January 2021
Message from the Editor
Heather Love, Editor, IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) Newsletter

Dear SSIT Members,

Greetings and Happy New Year to all of you! After the roller coaster that was 2020, it’s hard not to feel a sigh of relief to have closed the door on the year, though I imagine that many people are feeling some trepidation about what might be in store for 2021. The hopes that are attached to increasingly widespread COVID vaccination are tempered by rising rates of infection and the sense that if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we never know what might be around the corner. On behalf of SSIT leadership, I’m sending out sincere wishes that you are all finding ways to stay connected with friends and loved ones, to stay healthy as you face the coming months, and to stay energized about the professional work you do that aligns in so many important ways with the SSIT.

For SSIT’s Board of Governors, the new year comes along with some important Thank Yous to the outgoing members of the BoG leadership team: Member-at-Large, Charmaine Hughes; Past-President, Paul Cunningham (who is assuming the role of IEEE Division VI Director); and President, Bob Dent (who is moving into the Past President role). In addition, we welcome the slate of incoming BoG Members-at-Large whose terms run through the end of 2023: Beth-Anne Schuelke-Leech, Jay Pearlman, and yours truly; and we are happy to welcome Clint Andrews into the SSIT President position. The next few issues of the SSIT Newsletter will feature introductions to the newly elected BoG members, and this month I’m happy to kick things off with a profile on our new Society President.

Following that item, here’s what you’ll find in this newsletter:
  • Information about upcoming events that should be of interest to many SSIT members;
  • Reports on the 2020 SSIT Fund Challenge and recent keynotes by members of the SSIT Leadership and Distinguished Lecture cohort;
  • Calls for expressions of interest to organize future SSIT conferences and nominate candidates for SSIT awards;
  • Several publication and conference engagement opportunities.
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
Introducing the Incoming SSIT President: Clint Andrews
Clint Andrews is the President of the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) for 2021-22. He has been an active volunteer for IEEE and SSIT for many years. Like many of us, his first IEEE experience was in a technical Society (Power & Energy) but he soon gravitated to SSIT, organizing ISTAS in 1996 and thereafter serving as SSIT president, division VI director, Ethics & Member Conduct Committee chair, and in many other roles.

Clint hopes during his presidency that we continue to improve our organizational performance, advance our unique and cross-cutting role within the IEEE, and expand our reach. His column in IEEE Technology & Society Magazine expands on this vision.

Andrews has an undergraduate engineering degree from Brown University, a masters in technology and policy from MIT, and a doctorate in planning from MIT. He is a Sigma Xi member and maintains licensure as a professional engineer. Clint is a Fellow of AAAS and received the IEEE Third Millennium Medal and IEEE SSIT Brian O’Connell Distinguished Service Award.

Clint Andrews works as a professor of urban planning and policy development at Rutgers University, where he directs the public informatics degree program and the Center for Green Building, while also serving as his school’s associate dean for research. He previously worked in the private sector and taught at Princeton. His research addresses behavioral, policy and planning questions related to how we use the built environment. His current focus is on social implications of, first, the long-sought clean energy transition, and, second, emerging smart city technologies. He has published many scholarly and popular articles and his books include Humble Analysis: The Practice of Joint fact-Finding, Regulating Regional Power Systems, and Industrial Ecology and Global Change. He has guest-edited special issues of IEEE Technology & Society Magazine, Proceedings of the IEEE, and Building Simulation, and just stepped down from the editorship of the Journal of Planning Education and Research.

Clint and his wife Ellen live just ten minutes away from the IEEE Operations Center in central New Jersey, USA.
Upcoming Event: SSIT Distinguished Lecture on mHeath4Afrika (28 January)
mHealth4Afrika – Lessons Learnt and Good Practices from Co-Designing Technology Solutions for Resource Constrained Environments (SSIT Distinguished Lecture), 28 January
The IEEE UK and Ireland SSIT Chapter, Pittsburgh SSIT Chapter, Philadelphia SSIT Chapter and Sweden SSIT Chapter are cooperating to organise this SSIT Distinguished Lecture (DL) as a joint Chapter Webinar. All IEEE and SSIT Members are invited to register and participate. IEEE Members should include their IEEE Membership Number when registering.

This joint meeting will take place online at 12 noon (EST) / 5pm (UTC) on 28 January 2021. Registered participants will be provided with the link prior to the event.

This Distinguished Lecture (DL) shares lessons learnt and good practices, as well as highlighting societal and ethical challenges associated with the systematic introduction of appropriate technology to address healthcare challenges in resource constrained environments. It will also facilitate discussion around potential opportunities for IEEE and non-IEEE members to get more involved in Sustainable Development and ICT4D activities at home and abroad.

Please complete registration by 27 January.
Upcoming Event: Rutgers Speaker Series on “Critical AI” (12 February)
The "Critical AI" series is a joint collaboration between Rutgers University’s Center for Cultural Analysis and Center for Cognitive Science. The Winter 2021 inaugural event series includes keynotes and “Thinkpiece” discussion panels with leading thinkers in AI from across the disciplines.

All events are virtual and registration in advance is free and open to the public. Please visit the event series website for more information about details and registration, including contact information for joining the pre-event reading group discussions on Friday, 22 January and Friday, 5 February.

The first lecture of the year takes place on 12 February 2020, and features keynote speaker Meredith Whittaker on "AI and Social Control."

Whittaker is the co-founder and co-director, AI Now Institute, Minderoo Research Professor at New York University, and Founder of Google’s Open Research Group. Her talk examines the limits of AI technologies, and their insistence on enforcing normative categories that necessarily exclude “that which doesn’t fit.” It then goes on to review the political economy driving the AI industry, AI’s recent history and capacity for social control, and how movements for justice must go beyond corporate-sponsored “ethics” and a fascination with technical mechanisms and adopt more militant tactics that contend with concentrated power, and the capacity of AI to exacerbate inequality and facilitate minority rule. David Pennock (Director, DIMACS) will moderate the event.

Report on SSIT’s End-of-2020 Fundraising Challenge: A Success!
We are delighted to report that the SSIT Fund Donation Challenge, which ran up to 31 December 2020, has more than met its US$5,000 goal. This means that the Society's fund will be receiving a boost of over US$15,000 to support new levels of activities of our Technical Committees, Standards, Publications, and Chapters.

You can see updates HERE as the final numbers for incoming checks are tallied.

Thank you to all members who contributed, particularly to the anonymous donor who initiated the challenge!
Event Report: SSIT Board Members Featured as Keynote Speakers at ICECE2020
The Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) has been successfully organizing the pioneering International Conference on Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering (ICECE) for the last 22 years (biennial). The 11th ICECE 2020 was held from 17-19 December 2020 as a virtual event.

At the conference, two SSIT members were invited to deliver keynote addresses:

Dr. Bozenna Pasik-Duncan spoke on "Interdisciplinary research addressing new challenges: The central role of stochastic systems and control" (Friday, 18 December 2020).

Dr. Luis Kun spoke on "Science, Technology and Society’s Critical Thinking: Public Health and the Price of Prevention in the Safety and Security of the Global Citizen" (Thursday, 17 December 2020). This talk was delivered as an SSIT Distinguished Lecture.

Additional details about the conference program available here.
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 & 2023.

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 visit the Transactions section of the SSIT website to read about current and past issues.

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 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 Marmon Pine, is available in the December 2020 SSIT newsletter.

Submit manuscripts to Rosann Marosy.
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 (Foothill), 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.
  • 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)
HISTELCON 2021 – Preliminary CFP
Moscow, Russia
 | 18-20 August 2021 

HISTELCON is an IEEE Region 8 conference covering topics in the area of Technology History, held about every two years.

HISTELCON 2019 was in the IEEE UK and Ireland Section (Glasgow, Scotland), and the Region 8 Committee has agreed that HISTELCON 2021 will be in Moscow, Russia. Sponsorship is by the Higher School of Economics, the IEEE Russia Section Computer Chapter and IEEE Region 8.

The theme for HISTELCON 2021 is: "The evolution of computer architectures and system software, the influence of social aspects on the development of computers." However, this is only the main theme and papers on all other aspects of the History of Technology relevant to IEEE scope will be welcomed. The language of the conference will be English (including lectures and printed material).

Key Dates:
Abstract submission deadline: 12 June 2021
Full paper submission deadline: 3 July 2021
Paper acceptance notification: 17 July 2021
Final paper acceptance notification: 31 July 2021

Information about the submission process and portal will be forthcoming. If you have suggestions for or questions about papers, please contact Sergei Prokhorov.

Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic it is not yet certain whether the conference will operate as a Virtual On-line event or whether it will be held in the traditional manner as an On-site event in Moscow.