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September 2018

Message from the Editor
Heather Love, Editor, IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) Newsletter
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Greetings! This month's newsletter include announcements about the upcoming launch of the new IEEE SSIT blog, a Distinguished Lecture, and a fast-approaching publication submission deadline. Read on to find out the details.

As always, I invite submissions for future newsletters. To announce an event, news item, volunteer opportunity, Call for Papers, award notice, or other article, please contact me at my NEW email address: Heather.Love@uwaterloo.ca. Submissions for the October 2018 newsletter are due by 24 September 2018.

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

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Don't miss 2018 ISTAS! ISTAS is 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. An outstanding lineup of speakers and the program are now available. Register today.

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New IEEE SSIT Blog "FutureProof" to Launch

SSIT is launching FutureProof, a new refereed blog of authoritative posts surfacing critical topics on the social implications of technology. FutureProof will feature scholarly authors and experts in the fields of engineering, sociology, automation, privacy, exploring the many facets encompassed by the study of societal implications of technology.

Romano imageThe new SSIT FutureProof Blog Editor will be Cia Romano, a human-factors analyst, specializing in usability and permission-based digital design, and a lifelong student of the societal impact of technology. She has a special interest in the perspective provided by expressions of technological anxiety in popular culture. Romano has tested and evaluated digital products for projects funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, focusing on public engagement with science.

For more information visit the SSIT Technology and Society website.

Upcoming Distinguished Lecture

Romano image SSIT Members in the vicinity of College Park, MD, USA are encouraged to attend the Northern Virginia/Washington/Baltimore September 2018 Chapter Meeting, which features a presentation by IEEE SSIT Distinguished Lecturer Dr. Luis Kun.

Details for the event are below:

Meeting Topic: A Wellness-Centric Healthcare System with Interoperable Public Health: The Multidimensional Global Threats, Interdependences of the Critical Infrastructures, and Geomedicine
When: Tuesday, 25 September 2018 at 06:30 PM
Where: College Park Aviation Museum, 1985 Corporal Frank Scott Dr, College Park, MD, USA. Operations Building (to the left of the museum), 2nd Floor Conference Room
Speaker: Dr. Luis Kun, IEEE SSIT Distinguished Lecturer
Registration:*Free* Please register on our website.
Contact: Murty Polavarapu; email address murtyp@ieee.org.

Abstract: A combination of factors affect Society today in ways that were unimaginable to many only a few years ago, in the ways we work, study, teach, read and write, have fun, find out the news, buy, sell and generally in the way we communicate and even the total way we live. Globalization, and the constant use of technologies in academia, industry and government has created a new generation of socio-economic dilemmas that are associated not only to biomedical and clinical engineering and electro-medicine but to many other disciplines. Professionally, new requirements have and will open new opportunities to those that have knowledge in a spectrum of areas that include biosensors, geographical information systems, nanotechnology, intelligent agents, and many other areas. Medicine and Public Health experts will have to incorporate in their teams, individuals that would be able to develop and maintain new technologies, within their respective fields. In many cases, solutions used in other fields, were used to resolve problems in this one. This in turn provides solutions that are more cost-effective. NOTE: This talk covers a wide range of topics that could be of interest to heterogeneous audiences that include not only computer experts, but biomedical, systems and communication engineers, technologists, physicians, nurses, epidemiologists and surveillance personnel associated with public health and epidemics, agencies and departments in charge of protecting our food, our drinking water, our environment, our borders, etc.


Call for Papers: March 2019 Special Issue of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine

Technology for Governance, Politics, and Democracy
Guest Editors:
Dr. Tom Kane (School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University, United Kingdom)
Nick Novelli (School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)

We are starting to see powerful tools of artificial intelligence disrupting governmental activities. How our relationship with the world around us is modified by such tools, and how we can articulate and correct inappropriate activities in such tools become urgent questions. The situation is made more difficult whenever these tools are the intellectual property of a private company and not fully open to being scrutinized.

Innovative Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are already playing a crucial role in the emergence of e-governance and digital democracy, both at national and community levels. Parliaments can be petitioned on a large scale to influence debates in the legislative process. There is, for example, an unprecedented opportunity for community collective choice, whereby those affected by a set of governing rules can actively participate in the selection, modification and application of those rules, in consultation with their local government representatives, and can help select policy options and rank spending priorities.

Although (as always) the technologies themselves are neutral with respect to both "good" or "bad" outcomes, design, and the intentions behind the design, are never neutral. Moreover, digital technologies, unlike other tools, are never neutral with respect to influence and control. Thus, for example, although it is possible to engage communities in broader and more meaningful political participation, it is equally possible to manage, distort or manipulate the dissemination of information through technological and/or economic mastery of the platforms for communication. In electioneering terms, we see the emergence of such tools as Facebook for Politics, which played a significant role in the 2016 Brexit referendum and US presidential elections being lauded, on the one hand for helping campaigns to be more proactive on social media, and being critiqued on the other for enabling distorted political messages to be decisive in important elections.

In a similar vein, although electronic voting systems based on blockchain technology may make it possible to prove that a citizen's vote has not been tampered with, in pursuing ethical use of such technology, we would need to ensure, among other things, that voting rights couldn't be awarded to pre-programmed bots with a particular agenda. More widely, using technology to broaden civic participation in the political process should be accompanied by meaningful civic education: there is no point enfranchising people and making it "easier" for them to vote by using an app on a mobile phone, if at the same time the voter's critical thinking skills are constantly being undermined. A key societal challenge is, where necessary, to perform dialectical engagements with governmental AI tools, and their developers, in a democratic and open fashion.

At the same time as we address these issues in ICT, more widely in society a political fault-line seems to be developing: just at the time when technology should make representative democracy richer than ever before in human history, so there is a breakdown of trust in politicians, loss of faith in the political process, marked polarization in political debate, and an unwillingness to compromise in political discourse. Will ICT be the final straw in this breakdown, or could ICT be used to set things right in the political world?

The aim of this special issue is to evaluate the social impact and social implications of new and emerging technologies on governance, politics, public administration, and policy-making, and to evaluate the future prospects of digital democracy, and its transformative potential for increasing public engagement, community empowerment, and social entrepreneurship.

  • Digital democracy
  • Technology for deliberative assemblies, debate and decision-making
  • Technology for evidence-based policy making, legislation, and political journalism
  • Role and use of technology in election campaigns
  • Social engagement, ethics, empowerment, and entrepreneurship
  • Civic participation, engagement, duty, and dignity
  • Knowledge management: improving the "correctness" and legitimacy of decision-making
  • Algorithmic governance and self-governance
  • Community self-governance using socio-technical systems
  • Bridging the digital divide
  • Technology and education for teaching and understanding political processes
  • Computational political science
  • Case studies: applications of eGovernance in local or national politics
  • Technology, political change, and transformative impact
30 September 2018: Paper submission deadline
15 November 2018: Notification of acceptance (or otherwise)
End December 2018: Final version
March 2019: Special issue published

Papers should be submitted as a standard magazine submission via Manuscript Central but should indicate in a cover letter that the submission is intended to be considered as a paper for this special issue. For any inquiries please contact the Guest Editors, Dr. Tom Kane or Nick Novelli.

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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