Uber is an example of a computer app that causes disruption to the economics of a profession. Jon Kay at the Walrus says it is unethical for the public not to help the taxi drivers. What about the people that wrote the app? Are they being unethical?
In the IT profession, we are often implementing a system that will cause significant change. Computers have been replacing jobs for decades. This year Gartner predicted one third of jobs will be replaced by robots – including some surgeons. And others are predicting that new jobs will replace the old ones if we are creative enough.
It is always important that the IT project include discussion about all the changes that are expected and what can be done to help the people being affected. The IT industry needs to focus attention on the changes that our technology is causing and ensure that the correct discussions are taking place. The taxi drivers deserve to be heard and governments who charge licence fees need to either protect that monopoly they are charging for or buy the taxi drivers out. Ignoring the change we are causing is not a professional approach.
Unfortunately, IT professionals do not know much about economics. Concepts like the sharing economy take study and context. I don’t believe we need to become experts in all the pros and cons of every project we work on. But if we want to avoid unethical acts, we need to be sure discussions are held and experts from all sides are involved. And people are protected from actions we have taken.
Not that getting attention for the proper discussions is easy, but at least we don’t have to know everything.