SXSW 2019

Code Is Not Neutral: Ethics of Creating Software

Are you responsible for the software you design or the code you write? Ask the Volkswagen engineer who's in prison for creating software that allowed their cars to “cheat” on emissions tests. Or think of the ethical issues if you're creating IoT devices that spy on users and report back to the company. And what about social networks that allow users’ data to be stolen? Or self-driving cars that have to choose which lives to save in a crash? Designers and developers make all of these things happen. It's easy to forget that what we design and build affects real humans. We need to be aware of how much power we've been given and start taking responsibility for what we create.

Share this idea

Related Media


  1. You will understand that you need to consider the ethics of the work you do, and not just design or code without thinking of the consequences.
  2. You will learn that considering worst case usage scenarios is one key to helping make your product ethical.
  3. You will hear examples of how software has real world consequences that can change (and end) lives.



Clarissa Peterson, UX Designer & Educator, Clarissa Peterson

Meta Information:

  • Event: SXSW
  • Format: Solo
  • Track: Tech Industry & Enterprise
  • Track 2
  • Level: Beginner
Show me another idea

Add Comments

comments powered by Disqus

SXSW reserves the right to restrict access to or availability of comments related to PanelPicker proposals that it considers objectionable.