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IBM and the Holocaust is mandatory reading.

July 28, 2008

I recently finished a book that has re-shaped my thinking about working as a practicioner of technology.  IBM and the Holocaust, by Edwin Black is the book that has shedded my gross naivety.  I could not do anything but butcher the book’s intent if I tried to summarize it so I won’t.  There is an entire website dedicated to this book at as well as a website for the author:

Especially if you are in the IT field, you must read this book.  When you read the book, think about how your company operates and who it does business with.  Is it possible that your very own company commits fraud against humanity as IBM did before and during World War II?  Think about large international corporations today and ask yourself if you think they would have done the same had they existed at the time?

The most important reason for any IT worker to read this book is the notion of our professional responsibility.  We all have the duty to work in our field responsibly and with care to other humans.  That means that it is our duty to know and understand what our technology is being used for.  If we are asked to contribute to a technology that harms humans then we automatically have the duty to stop contributing to that work.

I would guess that very few of us are in the position that the IBM employees were in 60 years ago, but we should all keep close watch regardless.


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