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

Dear SSIT Members,

With the holiday season and the end of 2020 just around the corner, I’m pleased to bring you the December 2020 SSIT Newsletter, which includes lots of news and updates. Some of the highlights:

FUNDRAISING: the count-down is on for the 2020 SSIT Fund Donation Challenge. Please donate by 31 December 2020 to ensure that your gift will TRIPLE its impact. Funds raised will support a variety of SSIT’s technical and outreach activities.

AWARDS: last month’s newsletter reported on Leah H. Jamieson’s and John Vig’s 2020 IEEE awards, and we are happy to announce this month that two additional SSIT members who have been recognized by the broader IEEE organization for their accomplishments and contributions: Lew Terman (2021 Emberson Award) and Kalyan Sen (2021 IEEE Fellow).

PUBLICATIONS: 2021 will see a shift in the publication process for the IEEE Technology & Society Magazine; join the magazine’s editors-in-chief in thanking long-time Managing Editor Terri Bookman for her work making the magazine a success over the past 30 years!

ETHICAL DILEMMA: This month’s newsletter features the latest installment of the Ethical Dilemmas series, "On Matters of Money" by Marmon Pine. This initiative is a joint production of the SSIT and IEEE Life Members Committee newsletters.

In addition, you’ll find a Distinguished Lecture report, information about a new TechEthics virtual event series, reminders about the ongoing SSIT Membership Drive, and opportunities for SSIT-related Publication and Conference engagement.
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 Submissions for each newsletter are due by the first week of the month.
SSIT Announcements
LAST CHANCE: Donate to the SSIT Fund by 31 December and TRIPLE your Impact!
All SSIT members received an email reminder earlier this month about the SSIT Fund Donation Challenge that is taking place from now until the end of the calendar year: thanks to a generous SSIT member, donations to the SSIT Fund up to US$5,000 will be matched 2:1.

This means that any donation you contribute by 31 December 2020 will make triple the impact on SSIT’s ability to support new levels of activities of our Technical Committees, Standards, Publications, and Chapters.

The SSIT Board of Governors invites you to be part of this challenge and make your gift today!
In the USA, donations to the IEEE Foundation are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. For other countries, please check with your local tax advisors.
SSIT Member Recognition: Lew Terman and Kalyan Sen
Submitted by Terri Bookman
Join us in congratulating SSIT Board of Governors members Lew Terman and Kalyan Sen, who have received recognition from the larger IEEE community for their impressive accomplishments and valuable contributions to their fields.

Click on the links below to read more detailed accounts of this news on SSIT’s website.
IEEE SSIT Secretary and long-time Board of Governors Member  Lew Terman  has been recognized with the prestigious IEEE Emberson Award for 2021.

The citation for the Award reads: "For contributions to and leadership of multiple IEEE Societies, the Technical Activities Board, and the IEEE Humanitarian Technology Activities."

The IEEE Richard M. Emberson Award was established by the IEEE Board of Directors in 1986. It is presented to an IEEE member for distinguished service to the development, viability, advancement, and pursuit of the technical objectives of the IEEE.

IEEE SSIT Board of Governors member Kalyan Sen has been elevated to IEEE Fellow status, the highest grade of IEEE membership, in 2021.

As noted on the “About IEEE Fellow Program” webpage, “IEEE Fellow is a distinction reserved for select IEEE members whose extraordinary accomplishments … are deemed fitting of this prestigious grade elevation.”

Dr. Sen’s citation for Fellow status reads, “for the development and application of power flow control technology.” His Fellow nomination was processed through the IEEE Power and Energy Society.

IEEE Technology and Society Magazine News: Production Changes for 2021, Thank You to Terri Bookman
By Katina Michael and Jeremy Pitt
Excerpted from the December 2020 issue of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine
After thirty years serving as Managing Editor of IEEE Technology & Society Magazine (IEEE TSM), the December 2020 issue of TSM will be Terri Bookman’s last issue in this position.

In 2021 she will become SSIT Administrator with duties to include management of social media and the Society website, as well as, promotion of SSIT and IEEE TSM content. 

Heather Hilton, Editorial/Production Associate at IEEE Publications, will continue to assist with the production of the magazine.

Since 1990, Terri has applied her phenomenal editorial skills, her commitment to the cause of understanding the impact of technology on society, her encyclopedic knowledge, her attention to detail, her appreciation of aesthetics in production, her vast social network of friends, and her fabulous sense of humor, to help a series of Editors-in-Chief produce IEEE TSM.

As part of ISTAS2020, held virtually via Zoom 12–15 November, 2020, Katina Michael organized a surprise session of former (and current) TSM EICs and IEEE SSIT past and present leadership, including Clint Andrews, Joe Herkert, John Impagliazzo, Luis Kun, Keith Miller, Jay Pearlman, Jeremy Pitt, Jeffrey Robbins, Howard Wolfman, and Greg Adamson, who all joined Katina in reflecting on their history of working with Terri in producing the Magazine, and in paying tribute to the phenomenal work that Terri has done for so long, so tirelessly, so well, and with such great humor.

Terri, on behalf of every author, editor, reviewer, and reader of IEEE TSM for 30 years – thank you very much.

Ethical Dilemma: On Matters of Money

Submitted by Marmon Pine

In 1973, I started a company to mate a new technology, the floppy disk, with a 300-instruction-set programmable calculator. I called the result  a desktop computer. This was a system to be made available to the small business world, an affordable desktop solution to business reporting needs. If not the first, it was certainly one of the earliest uses of random-access technology applied to business applications (accounting, word processing, automat- ed forms fill-out) at the desktop level.

I financed the new entity using a newly-available government guaranteed loan program [from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)]. This form of bank loan required personal collateral. My partner and I provided our homes for this requirement. As unthinkable as it is today, back then, Chicago venture capital sources for technical start-ups were essentially non-existent. The failure of such ventures generally left investors with nothing of recoverable value.

Fast forward eight months: The new venture had 35 employees mainly writing software, and, although the desktop computer unit had proven itself valuable to at least 40 users, 400 users were required to provide the cash flow needed to service our then-current US$500,000 debt and burgeoning payroll. To say the least, a review of company financials did not inspire investor confidence. To make matters worse, a second larger SBA loan, granted by the same bank, was about to default. We exhausted assets and could not provide additional collateral to pledge to support additional debt financing.

A very close family friend, a Chicago attorney, offered to present our case to a bank (which was friendly to him) that he was certain would issue a much larger SBA loan, sidestepping the additional collateral caveat. This loan would carry us over for at least another year, thereby preventing the foreclosure loss of the company and the existing collateral (expressly, the homes of myself and my partner). The hitch was that I would be required to execute a “consulting” contract for 10% of the loan face value to whomever my attorney friend named. Of course, this “contract” was simply subterfuge to bypass the SBA-mandated 1.5% limit on allowable fees for representative agents. Eventually, the pressure presented by the potential loss of the enterprise (and our domiciles) overcame my reluctance to be part of such a loan.

One night, I drafted a letter giving my attorney friend power of attorney to negotiate for our company in this loan application. After a sleepless night, I arrived at my attorney’s home at 5 a.m. After much hemming and hawing, I retrieved the letter and destroyed it on the spot. Our enterprise eventually failed.

Never once in my entire entrepreneurial life did I ever regret my action. And never once did I ever again allow entrepreneurial pressures to cause me to entertain such behavior.
This ethical dilemma account is part of an ongoing initiative between the IEEE’s SSIT and Life Members Committee (LMC). 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. Please submit manuscripts to Rosann Marosy at

SSIT Distinguished Lecture Report: Haris Hamidović on Privacy Engineering
Submitted by Haris Hamidović
On the occasion of Third International Scientific-Professional Conference DIEC 2020, Radio television of Tuzla canton - RTVTK, Bosnia and Herzegovina in its primetime news program hosted Assistant Professor Haris Hamidović IEEE SSIT DL.

Professor Hamidović, DIEC 2020 Conference keynote speaker on the topic of privacy engineering, spoke about the privacy risks associated with new technologies.

The video is available on the RTVTK YouTube channel (see 33:13 - 42:30).

TechEthics Monthly Event Series: New Technologies, Ethics and Policy Engagement for Sustainable Development
New Technologies, Ethics and Policy Engagement for Sustainable Development is a new series conceived by IEEE TechEthics and UN-DESA as a way to facilitate and share technology solutions and promote substantive discussions among government officials and technologists. Each of these half-day, virtual events will focus on a theme related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and will engage policy makers, engineers, legal experts, ethicists, social scientists, and others in discussions about new technologies and their related societal impacts, as well as provide information on opportunities to become directly involved in ongoing activity and debate on the theme.
The series’ first event, focused on Health & Human Well-Being took place on 17 December 2020, and a recording will be available on the TechEthics channel.

Stay tuned for more information about future events in this monthly series. January’s theme is Sustainable Energy.
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 2023.

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 and September 2020 issues of the journal, which are now available.

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

Note that submissions are currently being accepted for a SPECIAL ISSUE on the topic:
After COVID-19: Crises, Ethics, and Socio-Technical Change,” which is slated for September 2021 publication (Details available HERE). Confirmed guest editors are:
  • Rafael A. Calvo, Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College London
  • Sebastian Deterding, Digital Creativity Labs, University of York
  • Catherine Flick, Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, De Montfort University
  • Christoph Luetge, Institute for Ethics in AI, Technical University of Munich (TUM)
  • Alison Powell, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Jack Stilgoe, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London
  • Karina Vold, Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto & University of Cambridge
For expressions of interest to serve on the editorial board as an ongoing reviewer or associate editor, or for other inquiries please email founding editor-in-chief
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.
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.

NEW! SusTech Talks – online, last Tuesday of the month. Check website for announcements.
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.
  • 31 December 2020: Early call for peer-reviewed papers and abstract-only submissions, including papers, posters, panels, and roundtable discussions (decision by 31 January 2021)
  • 1 March 2021: Regular call for peer-reviewed papers and abstract-only submissions (decision by 15 April 2021)
  • 31 May 2021: Final submission of accepted peer-reviewed papers due, and last call for abstract-only submissions (decision by 15 June 2021)