Letter to the Spectator

Sir: Rory Sutherland's recent article 'We let programmers run our lives. So how’s their moral code?' astutely observes the pervasiveness and importance of the software that surround us, including that which runs our VW diesel cars (of which I'm not a proud owner).

After exhausting any possibility of management being at fault in this scandal Rory unfortunately arrives at the most unlikely of suggestions. That rogue software engineers acted with foolhardy altruism towards the company for its competitive advantage.

In my years in the profession I've come to learn that nothing is just some lines of code. The complexity of this deceit would certainly have required more than one or two engineers. I suggest instead, follow the money. Who would be the most likely to gain from the cost reductions, time saving and market competitiveness advantages this software afforded. These are typically the kinds of advantages that concern managers more so than engineers.

If there is blame to place on the engineers involved, then it is this. That they failed to blow the whistle on VW when it become apparent the deceit in which they were complicit. But let us wait to hear their side of this story before we throw an entire profession under the proverbial VW bus.




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