General > Contests & Events

Who is being Ethical in Electronics?

<< < (8/8)


--- Quote from: 2N3055 on November 03, 2022, 10:22:06 pm ---Most of people (persons with a name) working in industry are very ethical.
Electronics engineers are amongst smarter and generally well behaved people. They work hard and are honest. They all are ethical for most part.

--- End quote ---

Well, I wouldn't go that far.  I've met some rather mediocre engineers in my time.  Some of whom I'm sure would be quite interested in joining or supporting $shady_organization as long as it pays well.  Or, put another way... I'm sure there's no shortage of ones that gambled their savings on the crypto boom.  I don't know anyone... who's admitted to it, at least, ;D but I'm sure they're out there.

Other cases in point:
Engineers had to design all those things used for killing and oppression.  Weapons (whether side arms, military bombs, etc.), surveillance, vehicles (anything from battleships and tanks, to whatever customized builds cops drive around), and just general industry nastiness (abattoirs, say?).

And sure, maybe an individual doesn't have a problem with any one of those things, or does but happens to work in a different sector, or etc.  Not everyone is vegan.  Not everyone is pacifist / prefers peace.  Or even those that do, perhaps prefer to weigh the defense value more highly (a mixed-use clause, in effect), simply accepting that such tools are as often used for oppression (whether domestic or foreign, and by whoever happens to have them).

But, well, that's in part why you'll never run out of engineers to do things.

Anyway, for the most part, none of this matters, as -- both by common understanding, and in practice -- engineers largely do what managers tell them to.

Hence the general griping above.

Despite being "professionals", we really have very little liberty, or autonomy, in our work.

So it reduces to the usual case of, who's giving orders.  No soldier ever got executed for "I was just following orders" (or at least... not nearly as many), but they sure as hell did for disobeying them.

For better or worse, we're little more than highly educated soldiers in a much larger "conflict" that is the world market, waged with dollars rather than bullets, but both are interchangeable at a sufficient level of abstraction (read: "money is violence", even if incrementally so).

So it reduces to the same old class conflict as ever.

And in that vein, I might suggest some examples:
This is mostly retail workers, but for the retail arm of a major tech company.

Likewise Facebook (mostly low level employees I think, not so much engineers?), Amazon (especially their exploitative warehouses), etc.

Amazon in particular has uniform management pressure i.e. massive mandatory turnover, by upper-level decree, even in their cloud/software space.  Not so bad that workers have sought to unionize that segment, AFAIK.
Google isn't immune.  It's been a long, long time since they pulled their "do no evil" slogan, remember.
Game devs however are facing not just the same bullshit that's clamping down on the rest of us, but actually abusive, harassing workplaces besides.  Mandatory crunch time and unpaid overtime are just the beginning at some of these places.

Perhaps some of the union leaders are worthy of highlighting, but I would suggest an individual focus is erroneous, and highlighting the effort that these collectives have put in (or are trying to achieve).


Nominal Animal:

--- Quote from: Prisca on November 03, 2022, 01:40:30 pm ---So I thought I would ask some actual engineers to give me examples of people they think are being ethical in engineering, exactly because I do not know this as well as you would - a lot of insulting has followed
--- End quote ---
We may be crass, but we are honest, and we care.  Which would you rather have, vapid but ignorant encouragement, or crass but honest opinions with the basis for those opinions explained?  I am limited, and politically correct perky socially aware discourse taxes me more than hard, disgusting, physical labour.

Do note that the "insults" are due to the fact that by "asking who people think are being ethical in engineering", you are not finding out who are actually ethical in engineering; you are finding out who are popular and project themselves as caring about ethics in engineering.

The exact same thing has been discussed with respect to sites like StackOverflow (and the entire Stack Exchange network), where the assumption is that the most popular answer is the likeliest to be correct.  Here, there are quite a few scientists and engineers who have participated there but left in disgust, exactly because that is definitely not the case.  Instead, the easiest answers are the most popular.  The only rational conclusion is that treating such sites as if they promote correct answers is propagating a falsehood; lying and misleading others.

I want to help, be useful, and help others learn.

I also did run my own IT business during the turn of the millenium, in the '95-'05 timeframe.  I was not suitable to be a CEO, because this industry is so full of exploiters, and especially "posers" –– people who talk one thing, but do a completely different thing, and really only succeed because of their ability to manipulate social situations and handle PR.  I myself consider my practices ethical, up to once cutting out a client I was subcontracting for, and going to the actual paying client and doing the job pro bono, because the one I was subcontracting for was trying to shaft both of us.  That's how I "retaliate".

Okay, so how would this kind of article be properly researched, then?  Two words: investigative journalism.  At minimum, you would look at the suggested people, and check if they are PR, marketing, or pure Cxx-level executives –– in which case they might be ethical business people, but have very little to do with actual electronics! –– or if they actually do ethical electronics in their day-to-day operations.

Yet, it seems that there are no journalists anymore doing this kind of drudge work.  Instead, there are just opinions, interviews, and lists of opinions.
Heck, even science/engineering topics are no longer covered as science/engineering, but as a human story: instead of describing what, why, where, the "articles" describe who, how they felt, how should you feel about this.

Again, we may be crude and seem hostile (when one is used to politically correct socially aware interactions), but we are honest and would prefer you to do better and succeed, than just push the same crud everyone else is pushing in your field; just like we'd prefer other scientists and engineers to do better than what the fields are overall doing right now.  I personally consider direct honesty more ethical than being socially aware but reserved.

--- Quote from: Prisca on November 03, 2022, 01:40:30 pm ---PJRC is a company and not a person
--- End quote ---
It's a company run by Paul J. Stoffregen and Robin Coon, as you would have found if you had bothered to open and clicked the About Us button in the About Us box in the left side of the page.
Paul is the main author (for both the hardware and software), and Robin handles most of the business side.
I do recommend you take a look at the forum PJRC maintains, to see how actual users see the company.  My opinion is irrelevant, but the underlying reasons for my opinions may be useful to others.

Can you not see why engineers and scientists here are unhappy about how you (plural, indicating "even science and electronics journalists in leading publications") are doing this task?  It is first instinct for us to go look at the background information – typically vendor site, manufacturer site, part datasheets or application notes –, because that is absolutely required for understanding the task at hand.  It is among the first things anyone learns at college or university, finding pertinent information.

Similar well known companies are Adafruit, founded by Limor "Ladyada" Fried; Sparkfun, founded by Nathan "Nate" Seidle; and Olimex, a Bulgarian company founded in 1991.  Many, if not most, of their products have been copied by Chinese manufacturers, and are the reason for the proliferation of the various microcontroller modules available on eBay, AliBaba, Banggood, Amazon, etc.  Not only are many (but not necessarily all, due to various reasons) of their designs open-source hardware (OSHW), but they have even provided the software and drivers needed for hobbyists and prototype developers to use to get quickly started!
Just look at Olimex, for example, and their OLinuXino OSHW Linux single-board computers, and the support they provide for all; no registration or even being a customer required.

Only when something cannot be completely open (like the Teensy boot loader, to stop them being duplicated by cheap Chinese manufacturers, and ensure the further development of the boards), is it closed, to ensure their products are of maximum utility to users/hobbyists/developers.  Even the lifetimes of their products are much longer than typical in electronics –– see Olimex and PJRC for example.  What is more ethical than that in electronics?

Or, say, people like Dave (the owner of this site, Dave Jones the EEVblog guy), who debunk horribly wasteful ideas (like solar roadways and walkways, batterizers) and reviews tools he finds useful; or say BigClive of, who takes apart lights (especially cheap decorative lights) and power supplies and powerbanks, and as an electrician, describes how useful they are?  Isn't that more ethical than a CEO flying around in a private jet, talking about how the plebs ordinary people need to cut their consumption so that the world won't self-destruct?

If I were you, assuming you work somewhere around Europe, I'd definitely contact Olimex and do a bit of research on how they came up with their attitude towards their customers (which most do consider ethical, and thus relevant), and use that information to reflect on the backgrounds and actions (as opposed to written speeches and PR talk) of the people already in your list.

Unless, of course, you (plural, your editor etc.) are really only interested in collating a list of popular people that other people consider ethical and who might be tangentially involved in some electronics stuff.  I suspect that is actually the case; I do recommend you check with your editor first.

--- Quote from: Prisca on November 03, 2022, 01:40:30 pm ---I work as a freelancer for Elektor, my network comes both from the social science side of technology and being a very small scale manufacturer of electronic synthesizers
--- End quote ---
If it matters any, I do wholeheartedly believe you have only the best of intentions here.  You should not consider any of what I've written here as being about your person; it is all specifically, and only, about how you're going about this particular task.  Any insults are directed at what and how you are doing a thing, not at yourself.

(This distinction is important to me, because I use the pseudonym "Nominal Animal" for that express purpose: to remind myself that any feedback I get is about my interactions with others, and not about my person.  I can change my interactions somewhat, but not who I am as a person.  As a result, if you look at my posting history here, you'll find cases where I am in "heated" debate with someone in one thread, while perfectly calmly trying to help them with a completely unrelated issue in another, or thanking them for useful help in one of my own issues.  This is what it means to be a "technical person".)

The topic at hand is sensitive to many of us, because we are tired of dealing with people who talk the talk, but do a completely different thing in real life, and we hate that kind of behaviour being rewarded.  We are the people who work hard to make better things, but whose efforts are almost never acknowledged, simply because we're not people-persons.  Yet, without us (technical people), everyone else would fall into the dark ages.

--- Quote from: Prisca on November 03, 2022, 01:40:30 pm ---This has to do with that they have a more powerful position to steer a company towards more ethical conduct and/or they are more openly communicating and can therefor be found and put in a list like this.
--- End quote ---
And yet, a vast majority of them only do so because at the moment, it makes business sense.  The moment they no longer get additional publicity by "making ethical decisions", they immediately change.

I have a particular favourite example, but outside electronics: former Finnish minister of interior, Maria Ohisalo.  Before her political career, she was an often-interviewed poverty researcher, who often berated politicians about hiring officials based on their political affiliations instead of their credentials and ability.  A couple of years later, as minister of interior, one of her first acts was replacing the highest officials in the ministry (which is not common in Finnish politics at all) by people affiliated with her own party.  "Do as I say, not as I do."

To be honest, I really expected to be excoriated, because I have been mulling this for weeks now, and couldn't hold back my own strong emotions on this.  I do hope Prisca (and others) see that my negative feelings are about the thing at hand, and that there is no ill will towards any person here.  Well, except for the PR and Cxx types that talk one thing, and do the opposite; they I hope get their comeuppance, and learn to do better.  I don't want any physical or lasting emotional damage to befall them either; only enough of a temporary hit that they see how the dissonance between their speech and actions  is causing lasting damage to not only the society overall (because it turns people from appreciating good actions towards good speech while ignoring any actions), but to the world itself –– you should check how much emissions a private plane has per flight if one considers the manufacturing and fuel production and transport costs as well, as is often done for "consumer" car emissions.

I would wager half my disposable monthly income that the vast majority of members here agree with the second and third sentence in the above paragraph.  Hopefully that still counts.


--- Quote from: Nominal Animal on November 04, 2022, 07:57:16 pm ---[ a long post that I completely agree with, and I thank Nominal for writing]  BTW, David Jones (EEVblog) is on that big list of ethical nominees, I don't know when that happened.

--- End quote ---

Ethical?  What does that even mean in this context?  I read the nomination page and apparently this is all about "influencers".

But here's a name: Hans Summers, founder and owner of QRP Labs.  I have no idea what Hans thinks about politics, sustainability, diversity, or any of the other areas that are apparently so critical to being considered "ethical", and I don't know what he would think about this "ethical" list.  But I can tell you that Hans has taken his passion and turned it into a small business developing and selling ham radio kits for an extremely fair price.  Hans is clever and helpful, and by his efforts has contributed much to the amateur community.  I will take that over yet another "influencer" any day of the week.


[0] Message Index

[*] Previous page

There was an error while thanking
Go to full version
Powered by SMFPacks Advanced Attachments Uploader Mod