I follow a lot of folks on Twitter and one of the things Twitter succeeds at frequently is riling me up, and making me angry about stuff.
Sometimes, that’s fine because there are serious issues plaguing our industry! However, sometimes people are just jealous of other folks’ success stories and want to bring them down. (Which I think is unfortunate. As a sidenote, I do think that bad ideas deserve to be called out.)
In my previous post about PHP Monitor I touched on a few of my fundamental rules for developing the tool. One of the reasons I have these rules is because I have recently felt that our industry is leading us in the wrong direction.
Most importantly, I think software should carefully make use of your hardware, so that your machine isn’t slowed down due to bad technical decisions or features that are not needed.
That being said, as a developer I’m part of an entire industry with many moving parts. I’ve been made aware of the following issues that I think are concerning:
- We live in a consumerist society where we have to replace our hardware quite frequently to remain competitive
- Certain innovative technologies, while valuable, are very wasteful for our environment
- In terms of software, we’re building on top of foundations that are crumbling under their own weight
- I am in agreement with this video that states that software is in decline
- Due to the high abstraction level of popular programming languages, developers today are generally less aware of what’s actually going on with the computer
- Our software is full of security holes and problems (though we are starting to use memory-safe languages more often)
- Many people working in our industry are not properly educated in ethical and/or inclusive behaviour (which has implications on an organisational level, and has implications in our software)
- There have been cases where machine learning, due to the data used to train the system, is implicitly biased against a various minorities
- Dark patterns are very prevalent in our industry
- Our private information is sometimes being processed without our permission (although legislation has somewhat improved our ability to fight back)
These issues are broadly categorizable in three categories:
- Environmental deterioration
- Fundamental software & hardware issues
- Ethical issues that are unhandled
I sadly believe that the outcome of this — if these concerns are not handled — will land us in a dishonest and imbalanced surveillance society first. After that, society is at risk of perishing: because if we destroy our environment, both society and humanity are at risk.
What can we do? As individuals, our ability to do things is limited. As a group, we can act. I’ve seen some stuff that has made me consider quitting my job and leaving the software industry entirely. That being said, I think as an insider it is easier to change our industry than from outside.