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I tried to convey the idea that it was a continuum between hacking and engineering. "Software engineering" is a lot closer to hacking than it is to hard engineering like chemical, aeronautical, or civil. It doesn't have the extreme safety requirements of building a bridge or a rocket booster, but it does have constraints on development cost, time, and performance that you can blissfully ignore in exploratory hacking.

With all due respect, your assertion that software engineering lacks extreme safety requirements is false. Like any engineering discipline, software engineering is applied to both safety critical and non-safety critical domains.

When I was in school this article[0] was required reading. Your life and safety depend on software engineers every time you dial 911, ride an airplane, etc. Not everyone is writing Facebook applications :)

[0] http://sunnyday.mit.edu/papers/therac.pdf

It's hard to make definitive statements about field as huge as "software" or "engineering". Yes, there are areas of software with high requirements for safety (avionics), performance (air traffic control), etc, just like there are areas of engineering that don't have them (improving the manufacturing process to make toothbrushes cheaper). I'm using it in the statistical general sense, sort of like "Men are taller than women." More software gets written for business apps than anything else, and the strict safety requirements aren't there.

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