The meaning and purpose for programming. Are there any philosophical websites on the subject?

Posted on 2006-04-30
Last Modified: 2010-05-18
I am looking for anything written about the meaning and purpose behind programming, and how it affects the world today and the future. Are there any sites that have been written on the subject and that discuss the philosophy of it.

There was a time when I used to enjoy programming but its lost its meaning for me. I feel like I am so behind in the field that I can't do anything important with it, so the best I could hope for is getting a job writing code for a business that only cares about profits. I no longer have that childlike motivation to pursue something just for the sake of exploring it. I need a reason and meaning for doing it. Currently, I feel a lack of purpose.

When I look at how technology has sped up our world so fast that it is nearly impossible to live a peacful existence within a stable family social family, it make me hate everything about the only hobby I was ever good at. Everywhere I look I see human beings substituting technology for real life face to face communication. I can't help but feel that we've lost our way and went too far with it all. I think the most important thing in life is human bonding and technology has replaced that with horrible substitutes that only create the illusion of it.

I was wondering if there are any written texts or postings on the Internet (I'd prefer a website) that discusses this issue so that I could possibly hear another perspective. Or if any of you have anything to say on the subject that would be great too.

Question by:jerrykobes
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    Expert Comment

    I believe programming is a tool with which you accomplish something. By itself its relatively worthless, but effective when put to use.
    LVL 10

    Accepted Solution

    *rereads the question about 50 times and suddenly feels slightly empty*

    As programmers we have the possibility to enhance the world or deaden it.  It is not the fault of any single programmer for any downfalls of the age but you must also look at the light sides Jerry.

    My Uncle through IRC met the best thing that ever happened to him...  His current wife.  He lived in Pennsylvania and she in California... He had been dating around at the age of 26 through Church Singles Events and going out with friends on blind dates and unfortunately had no luck finding Mrs Right.

    After talking to my Aunt for over a year via the internet and chat programs finally flew out to meet her.  The rest is history, it's been 15 years he has 3 wonderful daughters (My cousins) and is happily living in San Jose.  Would this have been possible without programmers?

    Another aspect to look @ now he is living in San Jose, California... My Grandmother who lives in the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania was heart broken, her youngest son... and his kids she didn't get to see often.  Video confrencing allows her to literally sit and talk with them as if they were right there!

    Many things that used to not be possible are now possible and happen every day thanks to programmers!  Not everything went down the tubes, yes... Kids rarely go out and play hoops in the streets anymore due to MMO's and Console games but people have always wasted their time doing stupid things... Programmers did cause that downfall but here is how I see it Jerry..

    Programming is our tool to make horrifically complicated tasks easier and to automate monotonously boring things we do not want to do ourselves.  Programmers have designed software which is now solving the human Genome.. (This means possible cures for Cancer, Type 1 Diabetes, Mental Retardation, Physical Defects...)  Software that assists doctors in prior surgerys that were nearly always fatal are now routine procedures with little risk!

    Perhaps humans are substituing real life face to face interaction with other forms of interaction but this is not always a bad thing.  Familys living across the globe can now talk in real time every night!  Familys have cell phones that allow then to keep in touch and parents to track their college bound children, where before the phone card market made millions from parents buying their children phone cards in the hopes that they would recieve a phone call a week from their kids.  Now they can just call them at a whim.

    Even the game dev market has enhanced the world in different areas!  Flight simulators now assist in training of pilots without extreme risk to human life, and also complex software and hardware is used to assist a pilot in flying larger complex aircraft allowing much safer flights for transportation.

    Game Dev utilities are frequently used in automation and sensory robotics, Game Dev AI's are used in the Honda Robot that assist in manufacturing as well as a D.o.D. robot used for reconosance in hostile areas.

    Perhaps programming has led the world down a slightly dark path but in that darkness the coders still bring a shining light to society and the human race allowing for a more free and safe life.

    You can dispute my points as you wish, but through all the downsides to it all there are upsides.  If you want to get into something doing good for the world Jerry you can do it with a keyboard and monitor.  Not all programming is B2B software trying to generate profit or entertainment software with the same ideals.  

    McKesson Automation assists in medication delivery and labeling in the health care industry.
    Aethon designs robots that assist in many industries making it so humans don't have to be placed in dangerous situations.
    Ratheon is working on many things but one of the main things is a robot to do dangerous mining operations... once again taking away risk to human life.

    It isn't all profit based Jerry... Good can still come from a compiler, it is the same way everything else in the world works...  It isn't the tools... It's what you decide to do with them.

    I hope I've shed some light on your current dark time.  Feel free to question me on anything more.


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