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[Computational Complexity] No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

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  • Lance
    From the Ethicist in yesterday s New York Times Magazine. Another college professor and I wanted a student to work on a project of ours, but she is a Mac user
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 22, 2008
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      From the Ethicist in yesterday's New York Times Magazine.
      Another college professor and I wanted a student to work on a project of ours, but she is a Mac user and the project required a program written for the PC. My colleague's husband, a Ph.D. in computer science, suggested an alternative program the student could download. She did; her computer froze and would not restart. The husband refused to assist her further. As the spouse of a colleague and the person whose advice caused the problem, isn't he obligated to help?
      Randy Cohen, the Ethicist, gave a wishy-washy response that the husband doesn't have to help but he should.

      Ignoring the whole Mac/PC issues, why is "a Ph.D. in computer science" relevant to the story? We don't get the fields of the questioner or the colleague.

      I certainly would stop giving advice if every time I recommended a program there was an implicit promise of additional support. Though my Ph.D. is in Applied Math so the situation above doesn't apply to me.

      Reminds me of some good advice I got as an undergrad when I was working as a programmer for Cornell computer services. Some person called me by mistake asking for some technical support and I helped him out. But then this person kept calling. My officemate suggested I give him some wrong but harmless advice. The caller thought I was an idiot and never called again. Problem solved.

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      Posted By Lance to Computational Complexity at 12/22/2008 01:14:00 PM

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