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Do developers have an ethical responsibility?

Software developers believe AI is the least of their worries, instead concerns over ethical responsibility comes to mind.

By April Slattery

A new survey from Stack Overflow has revealed software developers’ perspectives on artificial intelligence (AI), coding ethics and the benefits in the business.

The survey revealed the optimism software developers have towards AI, despite concerns that it will take over the workplace. Developers look positively to the future regarding AI, according to the survey, with almost three quarters of the survey admitting they are more excited than worried about the technology.

Over 80% of respondents said that automation of jobs is the least significant danger of AI, with the biggest concern developers have is the type of coding they do. Statistically, data scientists are 1.5 times more likely to look at issues around algorithmic fairness dangerous in comparison to automation taking over jobs.

The findings bring into question the responsibility, as the creator is responsible for concocting the idea but management for pushing it through to publication. Developers are happy and take preference to develop their own coding and creations, but if the creations have nasty or damaging results, then a quarter of developers believe the regulatory body should hold the main responsibility for ethical issues.

Over half (58%) of respondents also said the responsibility is down to the upper management and not individual developers with only 20% admitting developers should be responsible for the creation.

Do developers have an ethical responsibility?

Developers don’t put automation as the biggest concern, but the ethical responsibly behind it.

“Today, every company is a technology company. Without developers, the economy would not evolve at the pace we’re seeing today” Joel Spolsky, Stack Overflow CEO, said. “They are the architects of code that empower our everyday lives, and the people responsible for teaching machines how to think. The findings of this survey are indispensable for businesses, as they look to enable their tech workforce and attract the best developer talent.”

The findings also revealed that for the sixth year running JavaScript is still the most commonly used programming language around the world. Rising in the ranks is Python, which has been claimed to be the fastest-growing programming language. Additionally, for the third time Rust is the most favoured language for respondents with Visual Basic 6 as the most dreaded in the same time frame.

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In the future developers said that in order to remain at the forefront of the technology and at the best of their ability over half attended a coding camp, to update their skills. A staggering 90% of developers said they had taught themselves new coding language, frameworks or tools in order to compete in the changing digital era.

The survey spoke to over 100,000 software developers across 184 countries.

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