Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ethics in Automation

Automation really shines when it's used to speed up a process or to address some tedious task. Unfortunately, some less than scrupulous individuals have asked me to do some things with automation in the past that are just flat out wrong. Case in point: someone once asked me to create an automated test to search on google, and then perform click throughs on a competitor's adwords. The theory was that, since the competitor had to pay each time that link was clicked, it would cost the competitor a ton of money. I'm pretty sure that Google has some sort of mechanism set up to prevent click fraud, but the fact that someone would stoop to measures like this really pissed me off. I told that person no. Firmly.

Another time, someone else asked me to write a script that would artificially inflate the number of times a particular page had been viewed. He felt that if people saw the page had a high number of views, it would seem "more interesting" to other viewers and they'd focus on it. Again, I said no. Firmly.

I don't mean to go high-and-mighty, or holier-than-thou, but the fact of the matter is that unscrupulous business practices shouldn't be performed in the first place, and they sure as hell shouldn't be automated.

Always make sure to use your automation powers for good, not evil.

And now I'll get off my soapbox.

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