Re: [SystemSafety] Another unbelievable failure (file system overflow)

From: Matthew Squair < >
Date: Thu, 4 Jun 2015 14:07:22 +1000


It's a pity that you can't use 61508 in Australia and still comply with the WHS act then. :)

On Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 11:10 PM, Les Chambers <les_at_xxxxxx

> Martyn
>
> In my experience the presence of IEC 61508 has had a positive effect when
> attached to a contract as a compliance constraint. It forces organisations
> to clean up their act. I've seen the same thing happen with EN 50128 in
> rail projects.
>
> I think we get too tied up in the details sometimes and forget about the
> overall positive impact of these standards.
>
> I do believe that the pricing of IEC 61508 is an immoral act of greed and
> a clear violation of clause 3 of a well known standard, common to many
> faiths in many civilisations over millennia.
>
> Refer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments
>
> "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image."
>
> Just as this standard will never stop greed, or murder for that matter,
> the existence of a functional safety standard will not make any system
> totally safe. It all lies with the people working within the FS framework.
> How committed are they? It's exactly the same as being committed to a
> faith. Faith fills a need in most of us. We like to believe (without proof)
> that we are part of a master plan for which we do not make the rules. Some
> of us like to reinforce it by attending a church/mosque/synagogue once a
> week and reflecting on it for an hour or two. In the Middle East I worked
> with people who reflected five times a day. Many Westerners would view this
> as an unproductive waste of time but I remember thinking at the time that
> it wouldn't hurt us all to reflect with that kind of frequency, on
> something positive. The more reflection, the stronger the faith and the
> higher the probability of righteous action when our faith is tested. This
> is why I keep pushing this barrow of constant reflection on the safety
> discipline for those whose actions could cause harm to others.
>
>
>
> We should all cheer up. "The faith" had a good day today. Sepp Blatter
> resigned and the US Congress wound back the Patriot Act. Things are looking
> up for global moral standards.
>
>
>
> Cheers
>
> Les
>
>
>
> *From:* systemsafety-bounces_at_xxxxxx > systemsafety-bounces_at_xxxxxx > Tockey
> *Sent:* Wednesday, June 3, 2015 3:36 AM
> *To:* martyn_at_xxxxxx > systemsafety_at_xxxxxx >
> *Subject:* Re: [SystemSafety] Another unbelievable failure (file system
> overflow)
>
>
>
>
>
> Martyn,
>
> I can't speak for IEC 61508, but I do agree that in general the weaknesses
> you point out are at least borderline ethical issues.
>
>
>
>
>
> -- steve
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> *From: *Martyn Thomas <martyn_at_xxxxxx > *Reply-To: *"martyn_at_xxxxxx > martyn_at_xxxxxx > *Date: *Monday, June 1, 2015 1:34 AM
> *To: *"systemsafety_at_xxxxxx > systemsafety_at_xxxxxx > *Subject: *Re: [SystemSafety] Another unbelievable failure (file system
> overflow)
>
>
>
> Les/Steve
>
> Thanks for this. There's little discussion of professional ethics in any
> forum that I read.
>
> Do you think there's any hope that we might be able to make a small
> advance in a focused area, such as IEC 61508? The standard isn't fit for
> purpose, in that it largely ignores cybersecurity issues and does not
> provide a sound basis for assessing whether safety-critical systems are
> safe enough for their proposed application. It's also too long,
> inconsistent, too expensive, and can't be copied/republished for use in
> teaching, research or professional debate. I see these weaknesses, in the
> central international standard for the safety of computer-based systems, as
> an ethical issue. Do you agree?
>
> Regards
>
> Martyn
>
> On 31/05/2015 05:14, Les Chambers wrote:
>
> Steve
>
> Thanks for referencing the code of ethics. It should be brought up more
> often. Unfortunately, for me, it makes depressing reading. Especially when
> you come upon paragraphs such as:
>
>
>
> 3.12. Work to develop software and related documents that respect the
> privacy of those who will be affected by that software.
>
>
>
> Although he has probably never read it, there is a man, who will probably
> never see his homeland again because he took these sentiments to heart and
> attempted his own corrective action. And what of the thousands of
> scientists, engineers and technologists who contributed to the construction
> of the software, the existence of which, he exposed to the world?
>
>
>
> My point is that non-compliance with this code of ethics is massive and
> almost universal. In fact, any engineer maintaining strict compliance with
> every paragraph of this code would be unemployable in our modern world.
>
>
>
> Reading these paragraphs through the lens of experience I am blown away by
> their flippancy. From personal experience I can tell you that screwing up
> the courage to implement even one of these items can be a massive life
> changing event. This sentence would be lost on a graduate. They're all
> perfectly reasonable statements of how one should behave. Much like, "Thou
> shall not kill, thou shall not commit adultery ...". The issue lies in the
> moral courage to implement.
>
>
>
> There is no quick fix to this problem as we are a decentralised,
> unorganised and generally fragmented lot. We don't have the luxury of the
> medical profession that deals with a single organism. We can't simply state
> and righteously comply with the notion of, "Do no harm." In fact, for us,
> the opposite is true, many of us work in industries where the primary
> purpose is to kill other human beings, and with high efficiency (fewer
> soldiers kill more enemy).
>
>
>
> One thing we can do is deal with the problem at its root:
>
>
>
> We are graduating incomplete human beings from science and engineering
> courses. There is insufficient focus on the moral issues surrounding the
> impact of our machines on humanity. For example, a study of applied
> philosophy, including ethics, should be a nonnegotiable component of all
> engineering courses. Not just a final year subject, but a subject for every
> year with a weekly reflection on the content. Much like the weekly safety
> meetings I was forced to attend in the chemical processing industry.
>
>
>
> I'm sure there will be howls of laughter at this, but, let me tell you
> it's the only thing that caused me to back a senior manager about five
> levels above my pay grade into a corner - he could physically not escape me
> short of punching me out and stepping over my body - and berate him until
> he promised to properly train his operators in the emergency procedures for
> a safety critical system.
>
>
>
> Popping a few paragraphs up on the web would never have done the trick.
>
>
>
> That experience was trivia compared to where we are headed. The massive
> computing power now available means that our software is beginning to take
> higher level decisions away from human beings. Some of these decisions are
> moral ones (refer my previous post on lethal autonomous weapons systems).
> "Shall I kill all humans associated with this structure, or no?"
>
>
>
> At a recent engineering alumni meeting I asked the head of my old
> engineering Department how much philosophy is taught to undergraduate
> engineers. He chuckled. "It is available as an elective but less than one
> percent participate," he said.
>
>
>
> I plan to speak to him again soon.
>
>
>
> Cheers
>
> Les
>
>
>
>
>
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-- 
*Matthew Squair*
MIEAust CPEng

Mob: +61 488770655
Email: MattSquair_at_xxxxxx
Website: www.criticaluncertainties.com <http://criticaluncertainties.com/>



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Received on Thu Jun 04 2015 - 06:07:35 CEST

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