October 2020
Message from the Editor
Heather Love, Editor, IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) Newsletter

Dear SSIT Members,

Our October newsletter includes information about:

  • The upcoming SSIT conference, ISTAS 2020, which takes place from 12-15 November as a virtual event. Please register today!
  • An upcoming webinar on “Ethics & COVID-19,” hosted by the Vancouver joint-SSIT Chapter on 27 October and featuring Dr. Rajiv Bhatia
  • SSIT’s 2020-2021 Membership Drive, which is currently underway
  • Several conference and publication opportunities that should be of interest to many members
As always, I invite submissions from all SSIT members for inclusion in future newsletters. In particular, I’d love to hear about your local Chapter meetings, events, or outreach activities. To announce an event, news item, volunteer opportunity, CFP, award notice, or other item, please contact me at Heather.Love@uwaterloo.ca. Submissions for each newsletter are due by the first week of the month.
SSIT Announcements
ISTAS 2020: Public Interest Technology, Register TODAY!
SSIT’s flagship conference, the International Symposium on Technology and Society, will take place this coming 12-15 November 2020 as a virtual event hosted by Arizona State University.

We encourage all SSIT members to register today! Fees are as follows:
  • Students: US$65
  • IEEE Members/ASU University: US$115
  • Non-IEEE/Non-ASU: US$150

If you are supervising PhD or Masters students, or you are a graduate candidate yourself and would like to access FREE student registration for IEEE ISTAS20, please email Katina Michael and request the discount code. She will provide full instructions on how this can be completed. It will require students to provide a brief 150-200 word abstract on a related research area to the Conference Call for Papers.

This year’s conference theme is Public Interest Technology, and the program features not-to-miss presentations by:

  • Bruce Schneier, Public Interest Technologist
  • Ben Schneiderman, University of Maryland
  • Christine Perakslis, Johnson and Wales University
  • Jeremy Pitt, Imperial College London
  • Isabel Pedersen, Ontario Tech University
  • Joseph Carvalko, Yale University
Visit the ISTAS 2020 Program page for information about these and additional invited speakers.
Upcoming Talk: Dr. Rajiv Bhatia on “Ethics and COVID-19” (27 Oct)
Submitted by Darrell Koskinen
On 27 October 2020, from 7:00-8:30pm (Pacific time), the Vancouver Section Joint SSIT Chapter is hosting a virtual talk by Dr. Rajiv Bhatia on “ Ethics and COVID-19.”

Controlling the COVID-19 pandemic is an effort that encompasses many choices, a wide variety of tradeoffs, and a sea of uncertainty. The goal is to save lives and prevent the spread of infection. Amidst this, industries such as pharmaceuticals are doing well, but there is a long and growing list of collateral damage: business closing, increased unemployment and hunger, delayed health care, and education and career plans thrown into disarray. Even considering all of this, the global impact is even more complicated.

This talk will explore the uncertainties about the virus, the impact of the responses so far, and trade-offs between protective actions and collateral damage. It will also explore our own responsibilities not only for protecting our neighbors, but ensuring that decisions made by our leaders are ethical. Prior to the talk, participants will be invited to complete a short survey about their own positions on the many uncertainties.

Rajiv Bhatia is a physician, public health scientist, and innovator. He pioneered work on health impact assessment (HIA), community health indicators, and open civic data, and co-founded Human Impact Partners. He currently practices medicine, and advises civil society organizations, healthcare systems, and governments. He would love to find a way to disrupt the longstanding and costly practice of irrational medical prescriptions in India.

On 10 October 2020, the SYFY (virtual) conference took place. The event was organized around the central question: “When looking at those times when science fiction has seemed to predict a change in technology or social behavior, are we witnessing a real effect or only a coincidental alignment of circumstances?” In other words, can art can influence technology and society?

Lisa Nocks (PhD), a historian of science and technology at the IEEE History Center whose research focuses on the history of robotics and AI, delivered the keynote talk.

In addition, Karen Burnham (engineer by vocation, science fiction reviewer by “avocation”) assembled an engaging six-person panel that featured internationally known writers from diverse disciplines, including science-fiction, engineering, science, and education. The speakers were: A.T. Greenblatt, Tobias Buckell, Gary K. Wolfe, Michael J. DeLuca, Geoffrey Alan, and Mary Turzillo.

203 attendees from 16 different countries were registered to attend the conference. Of those, 38% were IEEE members, 62% were non-members, 12% were from outside the USA, and 28% were from the local Southeastern Michigan Section. The event organizers’ intention was to draw in both IEEE members who are generally not currently members of anyone Technical Society, or Affinity Group, as well as interested non-members who have ‘not yet’ joined IEEE, EMC-S, SSIT or ESD. Conference data indicate we got a good spread of interest.

SYFY 2020 conference sponsors were:
  • The IEEE Southeastern Michigan Section and its EMC Chapter
  • The Engineering Society of Detroit (which provided the 300-attendee capacity ZOOM site)
  • The Society on the Social Implications of Technology
2020-2021 SSIT Membership Drive Underway
Submitted by Anasuya Devi, SSIT Membership Chair

Warm greetings to IEEE SSIT’s current and future members! Our 2020-2021 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.


Please consider subscribing to SSIT’s new publication, the IEEE Transactions on Technology & Society, as part of your membership renewal. Members pay only US$10 for this benefit!

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.

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.
Call for Expressions of Interest to Host SSIT Conferences
IEEE SSIT organizes, co-organizes, and sponsors conferences focused on technology, society and ethics. IEEE SSIT is seeking expressions of interest from SSIT members interested in hosting the following conferences around the world.

IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS)
ISTAS is the flagship conference of IEEE SSIT, addressing issues across the SSIT 5 Pillars (Sustainable Development; Ethics/Human Values; Universal Access; Societal Impacts and Protecting the Planet). Information about IEEE ISTAS 2020 is available here.

Expressions of interest are welcome for 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. The next 21CW conference will take place from 22-25 July 2021 in Chennai, India.

Expressions of interest are welcome for 2022 and 2024.

If you are interested in hosting one of these events, or if you would like further information, please contact SSIT Conferences Chair, Jay Pearlman.
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.
IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society
The IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society publishes four issues each year (March, June, September, and December), and submissions are accepted on a rolling basis.

The editorial team seeks research papers on the interactions among technology, science, and society; on the impact of such interactions on individuals and society; and on the ethical, professional and social responsibility in the practice of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Find out more about the publication’s scope, topics, and article submission guidelines here, and be sure to read the June 2020 issue of the journal, which is now available.

Please show your support for this new SSIT initiative by subscribing today!

For expressions of interest to serve on the editorial board as an ongoing reviewer or associate editor, or for other enquiries please email founding editor-in-chief katina.michael@asu.edu.
IEEE Systems Journal
Submitted by Amir Aghdam, Editor-in-Chief, IEEE Systems Journal
The IEEE Systems Journal provides a systems-level, focused forum for application-oriented manuscripts that address complex systems and system-of-systems of national and global significance. It intends to encourage and facilitate cooperation and interaction among IEEE Societies with systems-level and systems engineering interest, and to attract non-IEEE contributors and readers from around the globe. For example, it publishes original contributions on how to deal with disaster response such as that triggered by hurricanes, tsunamis, or current volcanic eruptions that are not solvable by pure engineering solutions.

More details on the journal scope can be found here.

We invite you to consider this journal as one of the venues where your systems-oriented research results can be published.
Ethical Dilemmas
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 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.

An example of a previously published ethical dilemma story, by Bruce Hunter, is available in the June 2020 SSIT newsletter.

Submit manuscripts to Rosann Marosy.
Seattle, Washington
 | 29 October - 1 November 2020
The 10th Anniversary of the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC) will take place in Seattle from 29 October to 01 November 2020. IEEE GHTC 2020 will share practical technology-enabled solutions addressing needs of underserved communities in resource constrained environments around the world in the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

Hybrid and virtual presentation options are available for participation in the event.

IEEE GHTC 2020 Thematic areas include (but are not limited to)
  • Agriculture & Food Security (SDG2)
  • Good Health and Well Being (SDG3)
  • Quality Education (SDG4)
  • Clean Water & Sanitation (SDG6)
  • Affordable & Clean Energy (SDG7)
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG8)
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG11)
  • Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness, Response & Recovery
  • Communication/Connectivity in Support of Development
IEEE GHTC 2020 is sponsored by IEEE Region 6, IEEE Seattle Section and IEEE Society for Social Implications of Technology; with confirmed and expected Technical Co-Sponsors including: Consumer Electronics (CES), Engineering in Medicine and Biology (EMBS), Power & Energy (PES), and Microwave Theory and Techniques (MTTS) and IEEE-USA.
ISTAS 2020: Public Interest Technology
Virtual Event
 | 12-15 November 2020 

SSIT’s flagship conference, the International Symposium on Technology and Society, will take place this coming 12-15 November 2020 as a virtual event. Hosted by Arizona State University, ISTAS 2020 will convene at the same time as the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) meeting, offering new and exciting opportunities for collaboration. 

We encourage all SSIT members to REGISTER TODAY so that you can tune in for the ISTAS 2020 events of interest to you! An updated fee schedule and information about how to apply for free registration are available in the link below.
Find out more about the ISTAS theme, venue, confirmed speakers and workshops here.
SUSTECH 2021: How Emerging Technologies are Driving Sustainability
Virtual Event
   | 22-24 April 2021 

The 8th IEEE Technologies for Sustainability Conference ( SusTech 2021) is designed to explore the development and application of science, engineering and technology in achieving a sustainable lifestyle for humanity. It brings together scientists, engineers, technologists and scholars from multiple disciplines to hold a dialogue on environmental issues and collaborate on ideas to develop and utilize innovative tools and intelligent systems to address them. Attendees will learn about the tools, connections and proactive solutions to take their sustainability programs to the next level. SusTech 2021 will feature technical papers, posters and workshops.

Papers are solicited for verbal presentations from industry, government, and academia (including students) covering relevant research, technologies, methodologies, tools and case studies. Topics with policy implications are also welcome.

There will be a separate Student Poster Contest. Cash prizes will be awarded. Abstracts due 15 December 2020. See announcement here.

NEW! SusTech Talks – online, last Tuesday of the month. Check website for announcements.
2021 Key Dates:
Submission Deadline for papers (or extended abstract): 1 November 2020
Acceptance notification: 15 December 2020
Early registration opens: 15 December 2020
Student Poster Abstracts submission deadline: 15 December 2020
Final Paper submission deadline: 30 January 2021
Early Registration ends: 15 March 2021
Call for Reviewers:
The peer-review process is a critical part of ensuring the quality and novelty of the papers and presentations at SusTech. If you are interested in being a reviewer, please complete the brief application form linked here. Please note that the timeline for paper submission and review has changed from previous years, with reviews starting in early October. We expect that each reviewer will be asked to review 4 to 6 submissions. Contact c.jackson@ieee.org if you are interested, or fill out the application form.

Sponsors for SusTech 2021 include the IEEE Oregon, Phoenix, San Fernando Valley, Inland Empire (Foothil), Orange County, Metro Los Angeles, and Coastal Los Angeles Sections, IEEE Region 6, IEEE-USA; and co-sponsored by IEEE PES, SSIT and TEMS Societies.
10th International Conference on Ethics in Biology, Engineering, and Medicine
Seattle, Washington
  | 24-25 April 2021 

The 10th International Conference on Ethics in Biology, Engineering, and Medicine will be held in Seattle, Washington, USA, 24-25 April 2021. This conference has been endorsed by SSIT.

Please follow the link below and visit the event website for further information regarding the program.
The conference is being organized by Subrata Saha (Ph.D., Affiliate Professor, Department of Restorative Dentistry and Affiliate Instructor, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, University of Washington), who has recently been elected as the member of the inaugural class of Fellows of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honors Society.
IEEE 3rd Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century (21CW2020): Being Human in a Global Village
Chennai, India
   | 22-25 July 2021 

21CW2020: "Being Human in a Global Village" is the third in a series of conferences initiated by the IEEE SSIT, and follows successful events in Boston (2014) and Melbourne (2016). This series focuses on the 21st century legacy of mathematician, technologist, and philosopher Norbert Wiener, whose work in cybernetics brought ideas like complexity, computing, communications, and control to the quest for a general systems theory.

The upcoming event invites participants 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.

This conference has three general themes:
  • The state of technologies initiated by Norbert Wiener
  • The social impact of those technologies
  • Wiener’s 1950s engagement and travels in India
More specifically, participants are invited to consider how Wiener’s work resonates with various contemporary interpretations of the concept “global village.” For example, literary scholar Sue-Im claims that it has come to designate “the dominant term for expressing a global coexistence altered by transnational commerce, migration, and culture,” while Thomas Friedman sees our world “tied together into a single globalized marketplace and village.”

In keeping with the interdisciplinary ethos of Wiener’s work, the conference invites participants from all disciplines that engage with the social implications of technology, and organizers welcome proposals for presentations or posters in a variety of formats.