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Tom is the head of IT at XYZ Medical. For the last 5 years, Tom has been paid very little money. But Tom has lots of stock options. Pancreatic cancer is a horrible disease. 90% of the people die within 6 months. Alex Trebek is an exception. XYZ medical makes a computerized laser treatment for pancreatic cancer. Tom’s software controls the laser. Of the 1000 patients treated, 950 patients have lived for more than 4 years. So, they got more ‘life’. Of the remaining 50, 30 died within 6 months (as is typical). The other 20 died immediately. XYZ medical is about to go public. The FDA bas given emergency approval. This treatment will be used all over the world. Thousands of people will be treated. The stock offering is 14 days away. Tom’s stock options will be worth millions. Tom has been dreaming about those millions. Tom is reviewing the deaths of these 20 people who died immediately. Tom discovers a bug in the software that he HIMSELF wrote. Tom has THREE options. What would advise TOM to do? You must explain your reasoning. Limit yourself to one or two pages. Type in WORD
Option 1. Stay Silent. Let the computerized laser treatment continue. Let the IPO make Tom rich. Let the treatment go worldwide. 95% of the people will be helped. 2% of the people will be killed. Perhaps in a few weeks, Tom will patch the software and test it properly. Tom could then proudly announce an upgrade. Tom realizes that many hospitals will NOT install the upgrade. Tom also realizes that the upgrade may be inspected and questioned.
Option 2. Inform the FDA. Stop the worldwide roll-out. Halt the IPO. Tom’s bosses will be upset. Tom will still be poor. Tom may get fired. But many more people can die from the cancer. But they would have died anyway. At least, Tom won’t be killing anybody. Tom will patch the software. Of course, Tom may have to do lots of sample testing before the FDA approves the new software.
Option 3. Tom should not tell anybody about the bug. Tom should patch the software and quietly fix the few machines before the worldwide roll-out. Let the IPO happen. But there is a risk of getting caught. Also, there is only 14 days to test the patch. Sometimes, the patch is worse than the original bug.
What would you do if you were TOM? What would Kant do? Bentham?