It's Time For Computer Science To Get Real

A recent article 'Facebook’s crisis demands a reevaluation of computer science itself' states that 'Facebook’s carelessness with user data, and attacks the company has enabled against western democracies, are on software engineers’ consciences' and 'Yonatan Zunger, a former security and privacy engineer at Google, who has compared the power in the hands of software engineers to “kids in a toy shop full of loaded AK-47’s.” Safety and ethics are still elective, rather than foundational, to software design.'

The article contrasts the situation with 'real' engineering sciences where these issues are not elective extras but central features of their design methodologies.

It's true that many computer science courses seem to concentrate on producing academic techno-nerds with no knowledge of the global culture and the historical and ongoing effects on that culture of technology, and software technology in particular. This might be less worrying if the majority of CS graduates went on to careers in the academic ivory tower, but of course they won't, they will become commercial programmers out in the real world of morally compromised companies such as Facebook and Google.

It's hard to argue with the article's demand that computer science needs to go through a fundamental reeavaluation.



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