Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ethics and truth

One might have well have titled this 'Truth and ethics' except that would change the emphasis. The main points of this blog are truth engineering, what it might be, why we might need it, etc. Ethics is something that we expect for a balanced game in the market; what we see with initiatives like Sarbanes-Oxley tells us that we have issues here.

One way to show that ethics is problematic is the 'proprietary' shield. A continuing problem is how to impart any necessary information that is true yet not complete enough to allow reverse engineering and duplication. Patent laws help here by allowing public disclosure with ensured benefits. Otherwise, what does the public need to know? In many cases, the public expects that someone knows enough (implying more than normal) to ensure the public is not being taken.

One might say 'need to know' as we see with classified information. If someone who is not on the 'need to know' list asks about what they don't need to know (current events show how this might not be uncommon) does that person being asked lie (or be rude and say you don't need to know). Actually, in many cases, one may not want to know the messy details. So, we have the lie, the rudeness or just ignore (such as changing the subject).

Of course, there are other actions which we hear about that might be even more problematic.

So, again, let's back up a bit. It is true that truth engineering assumes that there is 'truth' (this will be defined further as we go along) that we can know. Our problem, as folks, is that tying this stuff down is not as an easy task as some would like. So there is no intent in the dialog to pursue things toward the sophist's level nor is there any notion of confounding the issues as we might see more than we like (A. what TEng is not) in this age of disinformation (as enabled by the quickness of our modern media - cannot use 'new' here due to possible mis-construing of the message).

As an example, in a change of a major variety that took place in an organization, there were conflicts in ethics. For instance, for several reasons (one has to ask if that honored the golden rule), people were lied to about the coming changes. Now, 'lie' is meant stating some untruth (which could be characterized as a half-truth twisted). But, to be more truthful, many times the lies were actual fabrications (hogwash, if you would). Yet, this type of thing was taken in stride by management (naturally, there was the lure of massive pocket lining -- there are notions that business needs to be 'darwinian' like nature; hopefully, we'll see more leaders of the likes of Dame Anita Roddick, eventually).

In some cases, code names for projects like this help alleviate the problem in that they acknowledge the project but then delimit who can know what.

Now, getting to the market, as it is seen as an important measure by many, one would expect the information available to be meaningful. Yet. some decisions may need more than just a financial snapshot, or rating. That is, there is a mismatch in the ontologies that come into play in information. And, one can't eat a financial report or fly it to India.

Earned-value analysis is a good example of the mismatch. It is true that tasks related to definition and realization of some product are funded, thereby having financial characteristics; in actuality though, the actual accomplishment is of an entirely different, and more difficult, framework. Yet, the prominent feature of reporting progress rests on the 'funds' side. This is problematic since eating up 90% of a budget does not mean that something is 90% complete.

Or, people watch the DOW as some indicator of a product's readiness. If that does map to the quality, it's a fairly weak link (meaning that the chain has many nodes (n-ary) - with a high 'n', not a direct relationship). It mostly would deal with things such as whether the one doing the product development is believable; but, as they say for the market, past performance may be an indicator, of sorts, but does not guarantee future performance.

What measures might we be looking at in order to overcome the problem? This question is worthy of some attention.


06/08/2014 -- Does time tell?

03/21/2011 -- Changed link to Dame Anita Roddick's firm. Also, we have our 4th March.

01/27/2009 -- Now a new day and way to consider these matters.

07/29/2008 -- Both finance and engineering are complicated. The former is more ad hoc than the latter since the latter has nature slapping it around when it fails.

As an indication of information improvement, we can put in links to material that was not available a year ago.
Modified: 06/08/2014

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