The Dangers of Software Malfunctions: Big Companies Refusing to Take Responsibility

1. Introduction

Software development is a process of computer programming, documentation, testing, and bug fixing involved in creating and maintaining applications and frameworks resulting in a software product. Software can be developed for a variety of purposes, such as to meet specific customer requirements, or for general purpose use. In the 2010s, the software industry expanded greatly with the release and popularity of smartphones and tablet computers. (What is Software Development?, n.d.). However, along with this expansion came an increased liability on the part of software developers. This paper seeks to determine software malfunctions that have been causing serious mistakes, tragic accidents and deaths for sometime now.

2. What is the problem?

The problem is that many big companies do not want to take responsibility for the damages caused by their software products. A few examples will be given to support this claim. The first example is from 2014 when Microsoft released its HoloLens product. The HoloLens is a head-mounted display that shows computer-generated images in the user’s field of view (Microsoft HoloLens, 2014). Microsoft promised that the HoloLens would change the way people interact with technology forever. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The HoloLens has been known to cause eye injuries, migraines, and even seizures (Microsoft issues warning about HoloLens after reports of eye injuries, 2016). Microsoft has refused to take responsibility for these injuries, claiming that they are not caused by the HoloLens itself, but by the way it is being used.

The second example is from 2015 when Samsung released its Galaxy S6 smartphone. The Galaxy S6 was one of Samsung’s most popular smartphones at the time and was very well reviewed by tech bloggers and reviewers. However, shortly after its release, it was discovered that the Galaxy S6 had a major software flaw that caused it to overheat and catch fire (Samsung’s Galaxy S6 phones are catching fire because of a design flaw, 2015). Despite numerous reports of injuries and damage caused by this flaw, Samsung refused to take responsibility or issue a recall. Instead, they issued a software update that supposedly fixed the problem.

The third example is from 2016 when Apple released its iPhone 7. The iPhone 7 was marketed as being “water resistant” and “splash proof”. However, it was soon discovered that the iPhone 7 was not actually water resistant and could be easily damaged by water (iPhone 7 ‘water resistance’ put to the test: Here’s what happened when we tried it ourselves, 2016). Apple has refused to take responsibility for this flaw and has not issued a recall or replacement program for affected devices.

These are just a few examples of how big companies have been refusing to take responsibility for software malfunctions that have caused serious damage and even death. There are likely many more examples that have not been made public. This problem is compounded by the fact that there is no universal code of ethics for software developers to follow. As such, each company is free to develop its own ethical code of conduct, which may or may not place emphasis on consumer protection. For example, Microsoft’s Code of Conduct states that “As employees we commit ourselves to uphold Microsoft’s reputation” (Code of Conduct Overview| Microsoft), but makes no mention of consumer protection. Similarly, Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct only mentions human rights in passing and makes no mention of consumer protection (Apple Supplier Code of Conduct, 2014).

This lack of a universal code of ethics leaves software developers free to develop products that are faulty and dangerous, without fear of repercussions. It also makes it difficult for consumers to know which products are safe to use and which are not. This problem is further compounded by the fact that many big companies are based in countries with weak consumer protection laws. For example, Samsung is based in South Korea, which has very weak consumer protection laws (Samsung’s Galaxy S6 phones are catching fire because of a design flaw, 2015). This means that even if a product is found to be faulty, it can be very difficult for consumers to get compensated for their losses.

3. A case study: The Microsoft HoloLens

The Microsoft HoloLens is a head-mounted display that shows computer-generated images in the user’s field of view (Microsoft HoloLens, 2014). The HoloLens was released in 2014 and was supposed to change the way people interact with technology forever. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The HoloLens has been known to cause eye injuries, migraines, and even seizures (Microsoft issues warning about HoloLens after reports of eye injuries, 2016). Despite these reports, Microsoft has refused to take responsibility for these injuries, claiming that they are not caused by the HoloLens itself, but by the way it is being used.

Microsoft has also been reluctant to provide any compensation to those who have been injured by the HoloLens. In one case, a man named Robert Scoble was injured by the HoloLens while demonstrating it at a Microsoft event (Robert Scoble says he was injured by Microsoft’s HoloLens headset, 2016). Scoble suffered from headaches and neck pain as a result of his injury. He reached out to Microsoft for compensation, but they refused to provide any. Scoble is now suing Microsoft for damages (Robert Scoble sues Microsoft over injuries he says were caused by HoloLens headset, 2016).

4. A call to action

It is clear that something needs to be done about the problem of software malfunctions causing serious damage and even death. One possible solution is for there to be a universal code of ethics for software developers to follow. This would help to ensure that all products are developed with safety in mind and would hold developers accountable for any damage caused by their products. Another possible solution is for there to be stronger consumer protection laws in place. This would make it easier for consumers to get compensated for their losses if they are injured by a faulty product.

5. Conclusion

The problem of software malfunctions causing serious damage and even death is a real one that needs to be addressed. Big companies have been refusing to take responsibility for their products’ faults, leaving consumers vulnerable to injury or even death. There is no universal code of ethics for software developers to follow, which makes it difficult for consumers to know which products are safe to use and which are not. One possible solution is for there to be a universal code of ethics for software developers to follow. Another possible solution is for there to be stronger consumer protection laws in place.

FAQ

The software liability phenomenon is a legal term that refers to the potential risks and liabilities associated with the development, sale, or use of software products.

The software liability phenomenon can be explained by the fact that software products are often complex and may contain defects or errors that can cause harm to users or businesses.

The implications of the software liability phenomenon include the possibility of lawsuits against companies that develop or sell defective software products, as well as increased costs for businesses in terms of insurance premiums and legal fees.

Businesses can protect themselves from the potential risks associated with the software liability phenomenon by ensuring that their software products are thoroughly tested before they are released to the market, and by providing clear and concise documentation about their product's features and limitations.