Ethics and Reverse Engineering
While working at a large information technology company over the past two summers, I have been involved with the hard disk drive group of the semiconductor division. One of the products that this group designs is the read channel chip. This chip communicates between the computer and the disk. This is a very competitive area in the semiconductor business, because the demand for computer performance has increased (and continues to increase) exponentially over the past decade. One common practice that I have heard discussed more than once is to use reverse engineering to see what the competitors are doing. This involves taking a microscopic picture of the chip as it is laid out in silicon, and try to work backwards to the transistor and system levels. The accuracy and amount of information that can be deduced varies, but it is certainly possible to obtain system level designs . In my four years at MIT, I have never been involved in any classroom discussion regarding reverse engineering, except for Real World Ethics. I find it peculiar that such a common practice in the engineering world does not even merit a discussion in academic realm, except specifically in ethics classes.
Cite this page:
"Ethics and Reverse Engineering"
Online Ethics Center for Engineering
National Academy of Engineering
Accessed: Saturday, May 25, 2013