Something for Nothing… and Chicks for Free

I am reading a book entitled Imager by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. It is the first book in a series of ten books so far. The premise is that there are certain people in this fantasy world that can manifest things just by thinking about them. It is a wonderful story so far (I’m about a third of the way into the first book). It has gotten me to think about some parallels between the Imagers in that world and programmers in ours.

What does a programmer do if not bring forth a creation solely from his or her mind. And it is more than just a story, although I shudder when I say just a story considering how much I have struggled writing fiction myself. My point though is that programs often have a utilitarian function. They enable us to do things that we couldn’t do without them. Never mind that a program doesn’t have a physical existence, per se. One that can be seen and touched. But it does have perceptible effects upon the world, whether it is on a display screen or in some physical process that it controls through a digital interface.

In the books, Imagurs walked a fine line between being useful to those that didn’t share their gift, and being killed out of fear of what they might do with their awesome talents. Although people don’t fear software developers now, I can see a not so distant future in which they do. And with fear comes persecution.

We need to start teaching our apprentice programmers a code of ethics and holding them to it. If people don’t trust programmers, we stand to face problems over that mistrust, sooner than later. When people realize the power that programmers wield in today’s digital world we better be prepare to allay their fears.

By the way, I highly recommend the book. It is riveting. I’m already looking forward to getting the next volume in the series.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.