September 2019
Message from the Editor
Heather Love, Editor, IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) Newsletter
Dear SSIT Members,

As you’ll see below, the IEEE SSIT’s annual membership drive is currently underway. We hope that you will not only renew your own membership, but also help our organization grow by reaching out to folks you know who are invested in the social implications of technology! This month’s newsletter also includes updates about SSIT’s upcoming ISTAS conference, its new Transactions journal, and an introduction to two more members of the current SSIT Board of Governors.

As always, I invite submissions from all SSIT members for inclusion in future newsletters. To announce an event, news item, volunteer opportunity, CFP, award notice, or other item, please contact me at Submissions for each newsletter are due on the 1st of the month.
SSIT Announcements
IEEE ISTAS 2019 Update
IEEE ISTAS 2019 takes place in Boston, MA from 15 - 16 November 2019. It is kindly hosted by the School of Engineering, Tufts University at its Medford Campus. IEEE ISTAS brings together engineers, policy makers, social scientists and technologists to share experiences and discuss the social, cultural, ethical and economic implications of technology.

IEEE ISTAS 2019 is technically co-sponsored by IEEE USA, IEEE Region 1, IEEE Standards, IEEE Product/Safety Engineering Society, IEEE Reliability Society, IEEE Education Society, IEEE Industrial Electronics Society and IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society and supported by IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee.

This year's conference will host a plenary panel featuring contributions from Division VI Presidents moderated by Prof. Paul M Cunningham (SSIT Past President). Confirmed plenary panellists include:
  • John Allen, President, IEEE Product/Safety Engineering Society
  • Bob Dent, President, IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology
  • Carole D. Graas, President, IEEE Reliability Society
  • Russ Meier, President, IEEE Education Society
  • Xinghuo Yu, President, IEEE Industrial Electronics Society
  • Representative (tbc), IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society
There will also be a plenary panel on Creating Ethically Informed Standards, including Beth-Anne Schuelke-Leech, Chair, IEEE SSIT Standards Committee and a representative of IEEE Standards.

Click here to learn more about plenary speakers.

The Scientific Programme, which will incorporate panel sessions, workshops and paper sessions, will be published in late September.

Early Bird registration closes on 7 October. Click here to learn more about registration.

If your organization is interested in being a financial patron or if you wish to contribute to the Scientific Programme, please contact IEEE ISTAS Secretariat.
SSIT 2019-2020 Membership Drive Underway
Submitted by Anasuya Devi, SSIT Membership Chair 

Warm greetings to IEEE SSIT’s current and future members! Our 2019-2020 Membership Drive is now underway, and we hope that you will both renew your commitment to SSIT, and invite your friends and colleagues to join the society.

As part of SSIT, you are linked to a global network of professionals, scholars, and citizens who are concerned with how technology impacts the world and how the application of technology can improve the world. SSIT’s interdisciplinary membership draws from all other technical societies within the IEEE, and we welcome members from beyond the engineering profession who have overlapping interests, perspectives, and areas of expertise.

We are in a new golden age of artificial intelligence research which is driven by a fundamentally different conceptual approach. It’s powered by big data, new storage and processing capacities, and pattern-discrimination systems that learn from those data, constructing rules for their behaviour as they go. This is not just in the lab. These machine learning systems are implemented by all the big tech companies in everything from ad auctions to photo-tagging, and they are supplementing or replacing human decision making in a host of more mundane, but possibly more consequential, areas like loans, bail, policing, and hiring. And we have already seen plenty of dangerous failures: computer vision systems that do not recognize dark-skinned faces; risk assessment tools that systematically rate people of colour who have records of arrest as riskier than white people with similar backgrounds; hiring algorithms that learn to reject women.

These issues force a fundamental reconsideration of core democratic values—not just in what decisions are made, but how they are reached, and with what sort of accountability. At SSIT, we consider the impacts of these technologies on society, and we work to recognize, mitigate, and eliminate the errors and biases that creep into the technology humans create. We contribute to the IEEE’s core mission by championing ethical and humanitarian approaches to technological development in the world today.

SSIT activities and volunteer opportunities include:
  • IEEE and SSIT policy development, research, and working groups.
  • The SSIT flagship international Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS) and other IEEE conferences of interest.
  • The Award-winning IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.
  • A new peer-reviewed publication of original research, the IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society, starting in 2020.
  • SSIT Distinguished Lectures and Lecturers.
  • Awards, including IEEE SSIT Carl Barus Award for Outstanding Service in the Public Interest, and the Norbert Weiner Award for social and professional responsibility.
  • IEEE and non-IEEE volunteer’s collaboration on cross-border interventions in 1st-Africa Partner Countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa.
We hope that you will continue working with us to achieve the objectives at the heart of our five central “Pillars” of focus:
Introducing your Board of Governors (BoG)
In our soon-to-be-complete series of short introductions to the current slate of SSIT BoG members, this month we present BoG Member-at-Large, Jay Pearlman, as well as, Member-at-Large and Treasurer Howard Wolfman.

As noted in previous newsletters, we hope that these vignettes will help you get to know a bit more about the group’s varied (and impressive!) areas of expertise and backgrounds, the specific goals that different individuals have for their time on the SSIT BoG, and the more general aspirations they each have for the future of the SSIT.

We encourage you to contact BoG members whose interests and areas of expertise overlap with your own, and we hope that these introductions can serve as a starting point for building camaraderie and connections within SSIT as a whole.

Jay Pearlman: About a decade ago, I evolved from technical for the sake of technical to asking what impact technical information was having on society. When I retired from the aerospace industry, I focused on applications in oceans and also coordinated an international effort on the impacts of environmental information on society. For the latter, I turned my attention to the value of Earth information for decision making and this led me to co-create an initiative on the impacts of information on decision making in governments and society. While this initially included mainly natural and information sciences, experience showed the need to expand to social, economic and political sciences. 

Over the last 8 years, we have had annual workshops on socioeconomic benefits of improved environmental information. In this work, with partners from NASA, USGS, ESA, NOAA and the EC Joint Research Center, a community of practice, called GEOvalue was initiated to bring the natural, social and economic experts together to examine methodologies for assessing the impact of information on decisions. As a part of this effort, I am co-leading a community in the Group on Earth Observation program to address the impact of GEO information on decision-making. I have to admit that this has been a learning experience as we work with different disciplines, cultures and environments.

Within IEEE, SSIT is the best base to address this area. With the importance of sustainability, big data, open data, privacy questions, ethics as well as with advances in technology, we are moving into a new era and it is a privilege to be part of the SSIT Board of Governors. In addition to SSIT, I am active in the Oceanic Engineering Society, both as a member of their Administrative Committee (equivalent to the Board of Governors) and leading their technology committee on observing and environmental sustainability. I am a Life Fellow of IEEE. In my spare time, I enjoy gardening, swimming and flying our airplane.

You can reach me at


Howard Wolfman: holds a BSEE from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Illinois. His experience includes decades of industry work as an engineer or manager in large and small International and US companies, eleven years as a consultant, and eighteen years as an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

His service to the IEEE is extensive: currently, he serves as SSIT Treasurer and a member of the BoG, as well as a member of the IEEE Standards Board and IEEE Education Activities Board. His is Past IEEE Region 4 Director, Past IEEE Treasurer, and Past Awards Board Treasurer. Outside of the IEEE, he has served as part of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards development organizations, Canadian Standards Association (CSA), and Illuminating Engineering Society (IES). Howard has received several prestigious awards and honours, such as the IEEE Centennial Medal, IEEE Third Millennium Medal, NEMA Kite and Key Award (2008), CSA Award of Merit, Edison Report Lifetime Lighting Achievement Award, and an Eagle Scout.

As a member of the IEEE SSIT, he is working to move the organization to a position of financial stability and surplus so that we can expand our local and international activities in the area of our charter. He would like to see the IEEE SSIT recognized as the leading society within the IEEE with responsibility for direction and information regarding the social implications of technology.

You can reach Howard at

Call for Expressions of Interest to Host SSIT Conferences
SSIT is a sponsor of IEEE conferences in the field of technology and society. As a reminder, we are currently seeking expressions of interest from SSIT members interested in hosting the following conferences in their cities.

IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS)
ISTAS is the flagship conference of SSIT, addressing issues across the range of SSIT interests. Information about the most recent ISTAS conference is available here.
Expressions of interest are welcome for 2020, 2021, and 2022.

IEEE Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century (21CW)
The 21CW conference series addresses the technical, social and personal legacy of the founder of cybernetics, control theory, and information ethics, Norbert Wiener. It has been held in Boston (2014), Melbourne (2016), with satellite activities in India 2014, 2016, 2018. Additional information about these events is available here. The 2020 21CW conference will take place from 23-26 July in Chennai, India; see conferences section below for more details.
Expressions of interest are welcome for 2022.

If you are interested in hosting one of these events, or if you would like further information, please contact SSIT Conferences Chair Paul Cunningham at
Call for Nominations: IEEE SSIT Awards
IEEE SSIT has three major awards, all of which are open for nominations at this time.

The Carl Barus Award for Outstanding Service in the Public Interest is open to anyone, or group, who performs an important public service, possibly at the risk of career or reputation. This includes anyone, whether or not in the engineering profession, or a member of IEEE. Further information on recipients can be found here.

The Brian M. O’Connell SSIT Distinguished Service Award is for SSIT volunteers who have demonstrated outstanding service for the benefit of SSIT. More information on this award can be found here.

The SSIT Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional Responsibility is given to an individual or team for exceptional contribution, or outstanding career contribution in the field of the social implications of technology. Further information can be found here.

To nominate an individual, submit information to Michael Cardinale ( Include the individual’s contact information – name, address, phone, email, professional history (year, organization and position), and the proposed citation in 25 words or less. The nominator must also submit their own contact information.
Call for New SSIT Chapters

As a reminder, our website shows that several IEEE Regions are looking for motivated individuals to spearhead new SSIT Chapters.

If you are an SSIT member who is not currently affiliated with a specific Chapter of the organization, please consider starting one in your area!

It only takes 12 members to form a Chapter, and by taking the lead, you can help mobilize the people around you engage in discussions about technology’s role in society and tackle the challenges involved in advancing technology for humanity.

Petitions for IEEE Society and Technical Council Chapters and Joint Chapters can be submitted online, and questions about SSIT Chapter formation can be directed to SSIT Chapters Chair Ramalatha Marimuthu at
Update: IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society
Things are on track for the March 2020 launch of SSIT’s new journal, the IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society. The ManuscriptCentral submissions portal opens this week, and founding editor-in-chief, Professor Katina Michael, will be accepting submissions. Find out more about the publication’s scope, topics, and article submission guidelines here.

For expressions of interest to serve on the editorial board as an ongoing reviewer or associate editor, or for other enquiries please email

More information about the approved IEEE Transactions can be found on this website.
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. 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
6th IEEE Region 8 Conference on History of Technology, and Pre-conference History Milestone event
Technology and Innovation Centre, Strathclyde University
Glasgow, Scotland
18-19 September 2019
HISTELCON is an IEEE Region 8 conference covering topics in the area of Technology History, held about every two years. HISTELCON 2019 will be in the IEEE UK and Ireland Section, at Glasgow, Scotland. A primary theme is ‘historic computers’ including papers on those inventions and developments which have not already been the subject of extensive historical publications, and the contribution that special purpose processors have made to the development and use of advanced digital signal processing methods in many applications areas. Sessions to cover other aspects of technology history in the electrical, electronic and related fields are included. Note that all lectures and printed materials will be in English.

An aim is to keep the conference affordable. To register and pay to attend, use the link from the conference website. The conference website also has a direct link to five hotels which have special arrangements for attendees.
IEEE History Milestone about the Standardization of the Unit of Electrical Resistance (the OHM)
The day before HISTELCON 2019 begins (17 September), an unveiling ceremony for a new IEEE History Milestone will take place at Glasgow’s Hunterian museum. The event will recognize the work done to standardize the unit of electrical resistance. Initially, there were many incompatible and differing standards, and selecting a single reproducible one was of great importance for the successful design and operation of undersea communications cables. The availability of fast communications by cable between continents had a huge social impact, and led to the development of better and faster communications around the world, with a huge impact on the lives of most people.

Following the unveiling ceremony, an afternoon technical symposium about such standardization processes will take place in room 526 of the James Watt South building, University of Glasgow (A1 on Campus Map). The symposium is free to attend, but advance registration is required in order to estimate numbers. Please register here.

Provisionally, the talks will include the following:

  • Dr. Don Wright, Past President IEEE Standards Association and from Standards Strategies, Louisville, Kentucky “International Standards”
  • Prof. Peter Grant, Emeritus Regius Professor of Engineering, University of Edinburgh, “Early resistance standards”
  • Prof. Jan-Theodoor Janssen, Research Director, National Physical Laboratory, UK, “Evolution of the measurement of the Ohm over the last century”
  • More details about this Milestone are available at the ETHW website.
IEEE Africon 2019
Accra, Ghana | 25-27 September 2019

The bi-annual IEEE Region 8 flagship conference in Africa, IEEE AFRICON takes place this year at the GIMPA Executive Conference Centre in Accra, Ghana. IEEE AFRICON is financial co-sponsored by IEEE Ghana Section, IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) and IEEE Region 8.

Please contact Paul M Cunningham ( to confirm which areas you can address.
International Conference on Computing, Power and Communication Technologies (GUCON 2019)
New Delhi, India | 27-28 September 2019

GUCON 2019 is being organized by Galgotias University, India and will take place 27-28 September 2019. The University is based in Greater Noida (NCR New Delhi, India), has an enrollment of over 19,000 students across more than 100 Undergraduate and Postgraduate programs, is devoted to excellence in teaching, research and innovation, and to develop leaders who will make a difference to the world.

GUCON 2019 is a non-profit conference and it will provide an opportunity to the practicing engineers, academicians and researchers to meet in a forum to discuss various issues and its future direction in the field of electrical, computer and electronics engineering and technologies. The conference aims to put together the experts from the relevant areas to disseminate their knowledge and experience for the relevant future research scope. The conference is technically sponsored by various societies and Institutes. There are multiple tracks in the conference covering almost all areas of electronics, computer and electrical engineering:
  • TRACK A: Data Mining and Big Data Analysis
  • TRACK B: Communication Technologies
  • TRACK C: Cloud Computing and Computer Networks
  • TRACK D: Power Electronics and Control Engineering
  • TRACK E: Power and Energy Systems
  • TRACK F: Machines and renewable energy
  • TRACK G: Electronics devices, circuits and systems
  • TRACK H: Signal processing
  • TRACK I: Bioinformatics, multimedia and machine learning
  • TRACK J: Robotics and artificial intelligence
  • TRACK K: Language technologies and information retrieval
Confirmed keynote speakers include:
  • Prof. N. R. Pal, President, IEEE Computational Intelligence Society, USA
  • Prof. Joydeep Mitra, Michigan State University, USA
  • Prof. Marcin Paprzycki, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
  • Dr. Daleep Mohla, IEEE Industry Applications Society, USA
  • Mr. Deepak Mathur, Director-Elect, IEEE Region 10
  • Prof. Vincenzo Piuri, University of Milan, Italy
  • Prof Valentina E Balas, Romania
  • Prof. L. C. Jain, Australia and Many World Leaders
Email Address:
9th IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC)
Seattle, WA, USA | 17-20 October 2019

The 9th IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference takes place in DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport. Financial Co-Sponsors are IEEE Region 6, IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology, and IEEE Seattle Section.

We are inviting SSIT and other IEEE members to volunteer to provide constructive, actionable feedback on papers as a member of the Technical Program Committee. Please contact Prof. Paul M Cunningham ( to confirm which areas you can address.
The 10th IEEE International Conference on Awareness Science and Technology (iCAST 2019)
Morioka, Japan| 23-25 October 2019


The 10th International Conference on Awareness Science and Technology (iCAST 2019) is a major international conference to bring together researchers, engineers, and scientists from academia and industry working in awareness science and its applications, for discussion, exchanging ideas, opinions, and most importantly to present their works and latest results.

Topics include Awareness Science, Awareness Technology, and Awareness-Related Applications.

The event is sponsored by the Japan Chapter of the IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society (SMCS).

The Global Women in STEM Leadership Summit
Atlanta, Georgia | 4-5 November 2019

The Global Women in STEM Leadership Summit is an initiative founded and led by Engineering Professor Takoi K. Hamrita. This is the only one of its kind two-day summit held in the world that is dedicated to giving women in scientific and technological fields from all career paths access to powerful tools, strategies and connections to advance their careers and their lives.

Register here.
EPIC 2019 - Agency
Providence, RI, USA | 9-12 November 2019

Registration is open for EPIC2019. EPIC is the leading international conference on ethnography in business. Our attendees are a diverse group of practitioners and scholars from every industry and fields such as the social sciences, Science and Technology Studies (STS), Human Computer Interaction (HCI), and design.

Our theme this year is Agency:
What does it mean to have agency in an increasingly automated world? Businesses are investing in "intelligent" technologies that promise to take humans "out of the loop." But human agency is not disappearing-it’s evolving, and humanistic perspectives are more essential than ever. EPIC2019 will explore how our models of behavior and culture shape spaces of opportunity and risk for diverse people and organizations. We invite ethnographers and technologists of all backgrounds to advance the value of our work through the prism of agency.

Be part of the community.

2019 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (IEEE ISTAS 2019)
School of Engineering, Tufts University (Medford, MA Campus) 
15-16 November 2019 

SSIT’s flagship conference, the 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (IEEE ISTAS 2019) is hosted this year by the School of Engineering, Tufts University on its Medford, MA Campus. The event will take place on 15 - 16 November 2019.
Information and Communication Technology for African Development 2019 (ICT4AD'19)
Yaounde, Cameroon
 | 26-28 November 2019 

The 3rd International Conference on Information and Communication Technology for African Development (ICT4AD’19) is organized in Yaounde, Cameroon by ANTIC (National Agency for Information and Communication Technology) – IST-Africa Partner for Cameroon, and African Centre for Women, Information and Communications Technology (ACWICT) and Financial Co-Sponsored by IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology.

We are inviting SSIT and other IEEE members to volunteer to provide constructive, actionable feedback on papers as a member of the Technical Program Committee. Please contact Paul M Cunningham ( to confirm which areas you can address.
IEEE SSIT 3rd Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century (21CW2020)
Chennai, India
   | 23-26 July 2020 

21CW2020: “Being Human in a Global Village” is the third in a series of conferences initiated by the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT), following events in Boston (2014) and Melbourne (2016). It will take place from 23-26 July 2020 at the CEG Campus of Anna University in Chennai, India. The 2020 event invites us to consider how we – as policy makers, parents, citizens, business owners, researchers, humans – need to be proactively preparing for a new world in light of the challenges coming our way in the form of artificial intelligence, or machine learning.

The conference will have three general themes:
  • The state of technologies initiated by Wiener.
  • The social impact of those technologies.
  • Wiener’s 1950s engagement and travels in India.
The Call for Papers is now available, and additional information about the event will be available online soon.
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