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December 2018

Message from the Editor
Heather Love, Editor, IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) Newsletter
photo of Heather Love
Seasons Greetings to all SSIT members!

As you know, November was an eventful month for SSIT, with our flagship conference taking place in Washington, DC, USA. Read on for a summary of highlights from that event (with links to more photos!), as well as an article about this year's Barus Award recipient, Philip Koopman. In this issue, you'll also find news about three SSIT members earning IEEE Fellow status, and Call for papers (CFP) and publication opportunities that may be of interest.

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 Submissions for the January 2019 newsletter are due by 27 December 2018.

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2018 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS)
Submitted by Terri Bookman

The 2018 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS) was held in Washington, DC, USA, 13-14 November 2018, at George Washington University.

With over 100 registrants, the meeting comprised a packed two-day program of paper sessions, panels, and plenary sessions on a variety of SSIT topics, ranging from sustainable development, human-robot interaction, and ethically informed standards, to societal impacts of the Internet of Things. A two-part panel on the second day of the conference addressed "How should engineering professionals respond to the rapid deployment of AI in our society?" Day two also offered an "IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee Participatory Workshop," moderated by SSIT President and ISTAS 2018 General Chair, Paul Cunningham.

"I thought the attendees were very engaged with one another," said Murty Polavarapu, Local Organizing Committee Chair for ISTAS 2018. "Compared to the really technical conferences that I go to where the attendees run from one session to another and copy down all the technical data that is shown on the screen, here the attendees talked to each other and lingered in the break area to interact."

The conference was live-tweeted from SSIT's Twitter account @IEEESSIT, and on Facebook, where additional photos and information can be found.

ISTAS' history extends back into the 1990s when the symposium in its present form was conceived, and even further to the 1980s when SSIT ran a series of smaller symposia. Some of this year's ISTAS attendees have attended the meetings for decades. Past ISTAS conferences have been held in, among other locations, Glasgow, U.K.; Rome; the Netherlands; Dublin; Fredericton, NB; Toronto; Washington DC; Los Angeles; Raleigh, NC; South Bend, IN; Worcester, MA; Stamford, CT; Arizona; Sydney, Australia; and Kerala, India.

ISTAS 2018 was supported by the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee, IEEE-USA, IEEE Standards Association, and the George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science. The Proceedings of ISTAS 2018 will be available on IEEE Xplore.

New IEEE Fellows

Three SSIT members have been elevated to IEEE Fellow status in 2018. They are:
  • Michael Condry - "for leadership in the development of semiconductor and computing technologies."
  • Mary Randall - "for leadership in the development and commercialization of audiovideo decoders."
  • Rajiv Sabherwal - "for contributions to research on management of knowledge and information technologies."
Congratulations to all new IEEE Fellows.

Haris Hamidovic Presents SSIT Distinguished Lecture in Zenica, Bosnia

On 1 December 2018, SSIT Distinguished Lecturer and IEEE Senior Member Dr. Haris Hamidovic delivered a lecture to students in the Software Engineering program at the Polytechnic Faculty in Zenica, Bosnia.

His presentation focused on issues related to SSIT's Pillar 4, which highlights and supports the development of technologies that incorporate into their design principles of safety, security, and privacy. The lecture aligned with recommendations drawn from the IEEE Computer Society and Association for Computing Machinery document "Software Engineering - Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Degree Programs in Software Engineering," which states that students should learn to think about the ethical, privacy, and security implications of their work.

For more information regarding the SSIT Distinguished Lecturer program, please contact Luis Kun.

feature articles

IEEE SSIT Carl Barus Award is Presented to Philip Koopman

On 13 November 2018, Dr. Philip Koopman of Carnegie Mellon University became only the twelfth person in 40 years to receive the IEEE SSIT Carl Barus Award for Outstanding Service in the Public Interest. Incoming SSIT President Bob Dent presented the award at a reception during the 2018 International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS) in Washington DC.

As outlined on the IEEE Barus Award nomination document, "the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) bestows the Barus Award to an individual or group who has acted within the field of interest of the IEEE to protect the health, safety or welfare of the public, despite risk to their career and professional reputation."

Koopman's award citation reads: "For contributions to understanding the causes of unintended automobile acceleration and despite attacks, publicizing and testifying about the problem."

"Philip has indeed experienced adverse effects, and I know firsthand, has withstood a barrage of attacks," said Katina Michael in introductory remarks. "Philip has dedicated his working life to automotive safety. Into the future he hopes to continue this work in the space of self-driving vehicle safety."

The award recognizes Dr. Koopman's work in identifying and raising public awareness of the causes and consequences of defects in automotive computer-based control systems. Koopman has identified and testified on behalf of victims regarding design and engineering process defects related to unintended acceleration in two class action lawsuits as well as a number of death and injury cases.

Based on these experiences, as part of his university work, Koopman created a one-hour lecture on lessons learned from analysis of software-based automotive control systems and engineering processes. The lecture has been given around the world to academic, industry, and government audiences to illuminate technical, legal, and social issues of safety critical software. (Lecture available on YouTube. View the slides.)

In the course of his advocacy for automotive safety, Dr. Koopman withstood a sustained series of attacks on his reputation. The attacks came primarily from an individual who was paid to be a witness for a car company involved in one of the unintended acceleration class action lawsuits. The attacks questioned Dr. Koopman's ethics and technical competence. While limited in what he could say by court secrecy orders, Dr. Koopman was able to point out that the articles contained significant factual errors. The attacks included publications in a professional society magazine and a high profile industry news source. Moreover, the professional society publication was used by that same car company's expert as a basis for arguing to exclude Dr. Koopman as an expert witness in the class action lawsuit.

Once the Carl Barus Award to Koopman was announced, the same individual launched email attacks addressed to IEEE leadership, ACM leadership, the press, and even to the faculty leadership of Prof. Koopman's own university.

However, the Barus Award committee had already carefully vetted Koopman's nomination before announcing the award since, by its very nature, the Barus Award is given to people involved in controversies. An additional careful review by the committee of all information in light of the email complaints confirmed that the award had been made appropriately.

Despite the attacks, Dr. Koopman has pressed on with his advocacy for automotive software safety and continues to work with car makers, suppliers, standards organizations, and other stakeholders to ensure that both testing and eventual deployment of self-driving cars will be safe.

SSIT congratulates Dr. Philip Koopman.

IST-Africa 2019
Deadline: 21 December 2018

Supported by the European Commission and African Union Commission and Sponsored by IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT), IST-Africa 2019 (May, Kenya) is the fourteenth in an annual series of Ministerial level Technology Research Conferences.

IST-Africa provides a platform in Africa to strengthen ICT-enabled Innovation, Science and Technology related policy dialogues within Africa and between Africa and Europe, Global Development, Research and Innovation Cooperation and Community Building. It also provides an opportunity to identify potential partners for future research cooperation under Horizon 2020. IST-Africa is a unique community that brings together cross-disciplinary stakeholders from public, private, education and research, societal sector with end user communities focused on ICT and STI Research and Innovation.

Thematic areas include:
  • eHealth/mHealth
  • Technology-enhanced Learning
  • eAgriculture/mAgriculture
  • eInfrastructures and NRENs
  • Energy
  • Next Generation Computing (Big data, Cloud computing, Future Internet, Internet of Things)
  • eGovernment
  • Content Technologies (Languages, Digital Preservation)
  • Cyber Security
  • Collaborative Open Innovation and ICT-enabled Entrepreneurship
  • Global Development including ICT4D and Societal Implications of Technology
IST-Africa 2019 Call for papers invites full papers (eight pages in length) using the paper guidelines and IST-Africa template to be submitted online for double blind peer review by 21 December.

It is necessary for the paper submitted to include a unique element that has not previously been published and any previous published materials to be clearly referenced.

Publish your Ethical Dilemma

If you have an experience that involved navigating an ethical dilemma as part of your professional life, we invite you to consider sharing it with your colleagues through the SSIT or Life Member Committee (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, which is the “Featured Article” at the end of our June 2017 newsletter.

Submit manuscripts to Rosann Marosy at

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