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June 2018

Message from the Editor
Heather Love, Editor, IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) Newsletter
photo of Heather Love
Greetings, SSIT members! This month's newsletter includes important updates from the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS) 2018 conference committee regarding submission deadlines and the announcement of an impressive slate of confirmed speakers at a featured panel on "The Value of Information in Decision Making." In addition, I am pleased to present the second installment of SSIT's joint initiative with the IEEE Life Members Committee (LMC) to publish members' accounts of their personal experiences navigating professional ethical dilemmas. The articles are titled "Workplace Ethics" and "What's the Risk?"

As always, I invite submissions for future newsletters. To announce an event, news item, volunteer opportunity, CFP, award notice, or other article, please contact me at: Heather.Love@usd.edu. Although regular newsletter publication will pause during July and August, we will be sending out monthly ISTAS updates and announcements. Submissions for the September 2018 newsletter are due by 20 August 2018.




ISTAS Submission Deadline and Featured Speakers

Help us spread that word that 1 July is the final, extended deadline to submit papers for the conference program at SSIT’s flagship conference, ISTAS 2018! Be sure to review the full call for papers and send in your work for consideration. Please contact Paul Cunningham at paul@iimg.com if you have questions about the conference.

In addition, the 2018 ISTAS conference committee is pleased to announce that the following five speakers will present at a featured panel on "The Value of Information in Decision Making." Don’t miss it!

Dr. Christoph Aubrecht, a Senior Geospatial Specialist and advisor with the World Bank. He is also affiliated with the European Space Agency, representing ESA at the World Bank to coordinate collaborative activities.
Dr. Jamie Kruse, the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor at East Carolina University, NC, USA. She is recognized for her research in economics and decision-making under uncertainty, especially as it relates to natural hazards.
Dr. Yusuke Kuwayama, a Senior Research Fellow at Resources for the Future (RFF) who has worked with RFF as an economist since 2011. His is the Director for the Valuation of Applications Benefits Linked with Earth Science (VALUABLES) Consortium which is assessing the impacts and value of space-based data on decision making.
Dr. Emily Pindilli, the lead for the Natural Resource Economics theme at the United States Geological Survey's Science and Decisions Center in Reston, VA, USA. She has more than fifteen years of experience specializing in economic and policy analysis to support energy and environmental projects.
Dr. Carl Shapiro, who has been an economist at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) for over 35 years. He is currently Senior Economist, Energy and Minerals, and Environmental Health, and Director of the Science and Decisions Center (SDC), an interdisciplinary organization advancing the use of science in natural resource decision-making.

For more information about ISTAS 2018, which focuses on the theme "Technology, Ethics, and Policy," see the complete conference announcement below or visit the ISTAS website.




The following upcoming conferences should be of interest to many SSIT members:

Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (SPSP) Seventh Biennial Conference
29 June-2 July 2018, Ghent, Belgium

The Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (SPSP) is an interdisciplinary community of scholars who approach the philosophy of science with a focus on scientific practice and the practical uses of scientific knowledge. For further details on our objectives, read our mission statement.

The SPSP conference will be held at the University of Ghent and provides a broad forum for scholars committed to making detailed and systematic studies of scientific practices - neither dismissing concerns about truth and rationality, nor ignoring contextual and pragmatic factors. The conference aims at cutting through traditional disciplinary barriers and developing novel approaches. We welcome contributions from not only philosophers of science, but also philosophers working in epistemology and ethics, as well as the philosophy of engineering, technology, medicine, agriculture, and other practical fields. Additionally, we welcome contributions from historians and sociologists of science, pure and applied scientists, and any others with an interest in philosophical questions regarding scientific practice.

Keynote speakers at the 2018 conference include:
  • William Bechtel, University of California at San Diego
  • Sabina Leonelli, University of Exeter
  • Maarten van Dyck, University of Ghent
  • Alison Wylie, University of British Columbia

SPSP 2017-18 Organizing Committee:
  • Chiara Ambrosio, University College, London
  • Rachel Ankeny, University of Adelaide
  • Justin Biddle, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Till Grüne-Yanoff, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm
  • Sabina Leonelli, University of Exeter
  • Matthew Lund, Rowan University
  • Joseph Rouse, Wesleyan University
Register today!


2018 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS)
13-14 November 2018, Washington, DC, USA


SSIT invites you to attend and participate in ISTAS 2018, a multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary forum for engineers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, philosophers, researchers, social scientists, technologists, and polymaths to collaborate, exchange experiences, and discuss the social implications of technology. The 2018 conference theme is "Technology, Ethics, and Policy." For the latest updates, visit the ISTAS website.

We welcome proposals for papers, panel and workshop sessions focused on the relationship between technology and social issues ranging from the economic and ethical to the cultural, and environmental; in particular, we invite submissions that engage with the following topics:
  • The Social Implications of Technology as they relate to SSIT's Five Pillars:
    • Sustainable Development
    • Ethics/Human Values
    • Universal Access
    • Societal Impacts
    • Protecting the Planet
  • Intersections between the social implications of technology and:
    • Privacy and security of information (vs. national and homeland security)
    • Net neutrality (fast-access internet legislation)
    • Big data, e-Government
    • Impact of technology and information on decision making
    • Human genome editing (e.g., Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)) ethics, neurotechnology/big brain
    • Internet of Things (IoT)
    • Blockchain everything - what does it mean?
    • Open data, open government - social implications of open data
Papers accepted for the Conference Proceedings will be submitted for publication in IEEE Xplore, with some papers shortlisted for publication in a special issue of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine. These articles must be revised to be substantially different to the original paper appearing in IEEE Xplore.

Important Dates:
Panel, Tutorial and Workshop proposal deadline: 16 June 2018
Paper submission deadline (max 5000 Words): 1 July 2018
Accept/Reject notification date for proposed papers: 10 August 2018
Final Paper submission & author registration: 7 September 2018



The following two articles are part of a joint initiative between the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) and the IEEE Life Members Committee (LMC) to publish accounts of society members' personal experiences grappling with ethical dilemmas in professional contexts.

See below for information about how to submit an account of your own ethical dilemma for publication in a future SSIT and LMC newsletter.


Workplace Ethics
Submitted by: John D. Mahoney

In the professional environment it is important to give credit to others for their ownership of contributions to workplace projects, especially when that results in publications in learned journals or presentations at conferences. It helps to further careers. In my experience (and just one instance suffices to point the finger) I have seen young engineers' names not added to an author list when they have been involved significantly in activities resulting in publication. This is unethical. It is essentially the business of copying the work of others without proper acknowledgement. Good managers know how to deal with these matters but there are others who either "don’t know and need to be enlightened" or "don't wish to know and need to be re-educated."

Specifically, I knew once of a subordinate being asked to write and publish the results of work that had been carried out by a colleague. The subordinate refused but did not suffer career wise for the stance because the manager realized that the request was morally flawed. If one publishes material it is important to be mindful of the practice of "scholarly misconduct in the form of wrongful appropriation of the work of others," or plagiarism in short. Such behaviors are not uncommon and there is a wealth of information available now in the literature regarding just what constitutes the varying degrees of the practice. Learned societies like IEEE have policies that are designed to deter, and just as one has to be mindful about copying the works of others, so too does one have to exercise perhaps even greater vigilance regarding this Janus headed coin, that is the copying of one's own work by another party.

Like others, I can think of further instances where unethical workplace practices have occurred. My experience tells me that it is best to call them as they arise and try to deal with them on the spot. Sometimes this is not possible, and it is necessary to then take further steps, such as resorting to an HR department or a higher authority. In this respect, the workplace scenario is no more, no less susceptible to unethical practices than is the tenor of life elsewhere, in the home for example, and more often than not most such behaviors can be treated successfully without recourse to heavy guns.


What's the Risk?
Submitted by Steve Roemerman

During the Cold War, urgency drove weapons development and testing. Parallel efforts were common, increasing cost risks, but lowering schedule risk. Often, weaving intricate threads together imposed additional, subtle danger. When do "risks" become ethical dilemmas?

An experience highlighting this challenge came when I worked for a contractor developing a new, air-launched missile. We were chosen for electronics prowess, but the rocket motor was also challenging. The government started the program with a proven motor while we refined guidance and controls.

They also chose to develop a new motor and furnish it. My employer supported this division of responsibility; risks for the new motor were in the hands of the government and the motor vendor.

I led systems testing and integration, with most my firm's first-hand insights to system buildup and testing. Ordnance assembly teams worked for me. We were cautioned by company executives not to challenge the government motor team. Until the handoff, we were to have "zero opinions" on that subject.

We began to receive the new motors for testing. The government team X-Rayed them to ensure the solid grain was undamaged. Damaged rocket motors can explode and explosions aboard an aircraft are bad. At first, we used drone launch. After a few shots, the motor team declared the motor "man rated" and moved to aircraft with test pilots aboard. With man-rating, X-Ray tests ended.

So, the first shot with a test pilot was not going to be X-Rayed. But, my assembly team witnessed government mishandling of the new motor. They felt it might have internal damage. But, with the "no-opinion" rule, they told only me.

We hoped the government team would self-report the risk. They didn't; I had a dilemma. There was "risk' to the test pilot’s life, and risk to our contractual relationships. Crying "wolf" would be a setback. The motor might have been ok, and according to government "experts," it was fine.

I quietly went to the test pilots' commander. Safety was his top concern. I explained the issue and asked him to protect me as a source. Since he wanted to hear of other risks, too, he was more than willing to shield me. But how to bring the issue to a head? We wrote a script; he would ask a series of questions in the safety pre-brief and insist on an X-Ray before fight. The motor team objected, but his authority was absolute.

The X-Ray showed a huge crack. That certainly would have cost us the airplane, and probably killed the pilot. It might have ended the program. The trusted relationship fostered by the chief test pilot created a chance to save all three.

The missile went on to be a near-perfect program and helped end the Cold War. Only a few ever knew the credit the chief test pilot deserved, but credit was not what he wanted anyway. His personal reputation for integrity and ability to build trusted relationships was key to solving my ethical dilemma.

Publish your Ethical Dilemma

If you have an experience that involved navigating an ethical dilemma, consider sharing it with your colleagues through the SSIT or LMC newsletters.

A joint SSIT/LMC committee will vet all initial submissions, and authors will work with the editors of the two publications to finalize their submissions. Accepted Ethical Dilemma articles will be published simultaneously in the June and December issues of both newsletters.

Article submissions must be between 300 and 500 words in Microsoft Word format. The IEEE Legal Department requires that all articles be fully sanitized to protect the privacy of people and organizations.

Read an example of a previously published ethical dilemma, John Impagliazzo's story, from our June 2017 newsletter.

Submit manuscripts to Rosann Marosy at r.marosy@ieee.org.


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