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A factual question

Posted By: Michael Petch
Date: Tuesday, 1 December 2009, at 2:59 a.m.

In Response To: A factual question (Alex Lehmann)

I have no idea where the truth is in all this but here is my 2 cents. If I develop an algorithm to play backgammon (I can think of reasons to create algorithms to play backgammon that have nothing to do with cheating) and then hand off the algorithms to others to use, and those people use it maliciously I do not believe the developer of said algorithms should be responsible.

If the developer of the algorithm created them in good faith, and had no financial gain from others (like Alex) abusing the work he did - then I'd say the person who developed the algorithm was not acting unethically and immorally.

Lets say PJT developed the algorithms only, and had nothing to do with their application as a bot (independent of what the real truth is), should he be considered immoral and unethical? I don't believe so. If he had to take the blame for the misuse of an algorthim then we have to blame these people:

Leverman and the Snowie team for creating a Bot that people use to aid their play online. The makers of Jellyfish are responsible for Hank Youngermann and cheating, and Gary Wong the creator of Gnubg would be guilty for the demise of backgammon (which is being discussed in another thread!) because people can too easily integrate Gnubg into other applications.

In the case of Gary Wong did ya thing he sat there and said "I want to write an open soruce bot because I want the world to be able to cheat at backgammon!". I highly doubt it.

And our very own Frank Berger for making backgammon cheating Mobile! ;-)

Reminds me of Carl Neikter of Netbus fame. Netbus was an administration utility written to make remote access to PC's easier but the whole concept morphed into todays most prevalent backdoor trojans - SubSeven and BackOrifice. Is Carl immoral and unethical because he wrote a tool that others morphed into a utility targetted at hacking systems and stealing passwords? I say - No.

Did our ancestor who invented the first arrowhead for penetrating the flesh of another animal be held accountable for all the murders where the said instrument (and its derivatives) ended up in the back of another human being? No. If the original intent of creating soemthing was not in itself immoral or unethical and was created in good faith, then that person should not carry the responsibility of how others misuse and abuse what they created.

If PJT created an algorithm that play backgammon against humans and that was it, then PJT is no more immoral or unethical than the creators of any of todays bots. Those who twisted the algorithms/ideas into something else are the immoral and unethical parties.

If PJT was approached to develop a bot for use against players on Money Sites then thats where I have a problem. That would be morally questionnable even if he didn't profit from it because he knew up front how his work was going to be used by other individuals.

If I don't see hard evidence that PJT knew how his algorithms would be (or profitting after the fact) by Alex - then I will simply have to assume PJT did nothing wrong. If proof is made to support one of those 2 positions then I'll agree with those that think PJT should be shunned. Until that happens I'll consider it innocent until proven guilty.

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