Obligations

David Parnas A Case Study
A respected computer scientist within the Department of Defense, David Parnas was recruited to join the panel of directors for the Strategic Defense Initiative, more properly known as "Star Wars." One of his first tasks was to study the feasibility of creating a computerized network to be used in the defense against nuclear attack. The network was to communicate efficiently with satellites located around the globe to track and counter any ICBM entering US airspace. Citing the inherently unreliable nature of software, Parnas believed the project was doomed to failure. In a recommendation to the DoD, he revealed his findings and then promptly resigned from his position of leadership, citing that he would not support a futile project that not only would waste billions in revenue, but would also give the American people a false sense of safety. When the national media later obtained a copy of his recommendation to the DoD, government officials practicing spin control lambasted the respected Parnas. A man with strong convictions, Parnas refused to back down from blowing the whistle on technology in which he did not believe. In his reprisal of the events, he offers these guidelines for the consummate professional:

1) Must be responsible for own actions
2) Cannot ignore moral or ethical standards
3) Make sure that one is solving a real problem, not just making superiors happy

Code of Professional Conduct
- As offered by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

1) Act with integrity

a. Qualify self
b. Preface partisan statements with who it's for
c. Act faithfully for employers/clients

2) Strive to increase competence

a. Extend public knowledge
b. Do not misrepresent self
c. Design systems that meet needs
d. Maintain competence through continual education
e. Provide opportunity and encouragement

3) Accept responsibility for work

a. Accept only reasonable assignments
b. Shall not neglect accepted assignments

4) Act with professional responsibility

a. Conduct professional activities on a high plane
b. Encouraged to uphold and improve these standards

5) Use knowledge to benefit mankind

a. Consider health, privacy, and general welfare of mankind