The ending of the Cold War is freeing economic and technical resources from the military arena to yield the so-called ‘peace dividend’. Consequently there will tend to be a shift of business away from the defence sector. This change promotes the possibility of a more ethical orientation to many information technologists’ work, and furthermore represents the chance to argue for more socially useful and responsible applications of computer technology.
This paper avoids moral debate concerning the engagement of information technology professionals in military work in favour of more pragmatic, commercial arguments. The scope for change is surveyed, and the paper outlines a three-phase strategy by which computing professionals can attempt to influence government policy and public opinion in support of a more ethical direction to our work.