Implementing ethics into agile software development

Values, standards and software systems

What is ethical software? The project “Ethics in Agile Software Development” develops a manual to enable a normative desirable design of software systems. Ethical questions will be integrated systematically and in a structured way into the development process of technical systems. Software developers and decision makers are accompanied in normative-conceptual design thinking in order to detect, localize and evaluate ethical questions, to translate them into technical requirements, and to develop ethically appropriate software.

“How can software be developed in an ethically adequate manner?” is thus the central research question of the project. Status quo approaches such as Codes of Ethics and other standardised processes and procedures offer insufficient normative orientation or do not achieve the desired effect. In addition, in contrast to the classical manufacturing industry, which is strongly based on standardization, a standardized procedure in software development is not easy to replicate. A rigidly prescribed construction plan already fails due to the multi-dimensionality of the system. It is therefore important not to limit the process of normative deliberation to the beginning of the development process or to an assessment of technology after the fact. The effectiveness and feasibility of the deliberation manual should be examined and supported by empirical monitoring. Therefore, in this project we aim to extend an agile management method, such as Scrum, by adding an ethical deliberation manual. In doing so we can ensure that normative elements will be continuously integrated into the development of software systems. Software developers will be sensitized to the appropriate normative concepts with the aim that ethical deliberation will become an integral part of product development.

The project is headed by Prof. Nida-RĂ¼melin (LMU) and Prof. Pretschner (TUM). The team consists of Dr. Jan Gogoll, Severin Kacianka and Niina Zuber. More info