Our collective ability to judge the effectiveness of software is very bad

This a problem statement for future work. We are living in an era of prolific software creation, which has vastly outpaced our ability to audit software's capabilities and usability. This has pretty serious impacts on society in a number of ways:

  • Firms are able to charge customers for capabilities that have existed—often in free and open-source software—for years if not decades, and give them to a captured user base in piecemeal fashion.
  • Governments and firms build (or have built) software whose effectiveness they are woefully unequipped to assess. Hundreds of millions of dollars are wasted because of this every year, billions underutilized.
  • The lack of public awareness and established auditing practices makes "malicious compliance" with software-related regulation the norm, both by state actors and firms. Think of the "we use cookies" popup in response to GDPR or how legal records websites work.

We need better tools to audit and assess the effectiveness of software for users, and many many more people in hybrid roles that understand what is reasonable, possible, and acceptable from software that don't necessary write that software.