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Welcome to the latest installment of our new "middle-of-the-month" IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) newsletter. Read on for more information about December's announcements and news, conference updates, and volunteer opportunities.

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Greg Adamson
Report on Ethics from Greg Adamson, SSIT President

Over the past two years, ethics activities within IEEE have risen enormously. These activities are being driven by several changing circumstances:
  • A tipping point in technology and responsibility, with the introduction of self-driving cars and the development of many artificial intelligence (AI) projects. One of the inputs to the recent White House report on AI (AI Now) makes specific reference to IEEE's Code of Ethics, and asks whether this is appropriate in a world of emerging AI.
  • Recent major fines and costs including BP's estimate of the total cost of its Gulf of Mexico spill at US$44bn including US$18.7bn fines and 11 deaths and Volkswagen's US$15bn initial fine for falsifying vehicle pollution data.
  • The extension of IEEE into life sciences and other areas with strong ethics traditions.
SSIT ethics activities have a 44-year history, and we are strongly engaging with this interest today, just as we do with other areas of SSIT interest (humanitarian technology and technology for sustainability). We don't need to directly organize every activity (and we don't have the capacity to do this), but our experts can make the difference between failure and success in these broader initiatives. Current projects include the following:
  • The IEEE Standards Association has initiated a Global Initiative on ethics and AI including SSIT Board members Phil Hall and myself. More than 100 participants have generated an initial document, which will soon be available for review.
  • SSIT was one of the key engagement partners in the IEEE European Public Policy Initiative panel on ethics and AI, held in Brussels, Belgium 15 November 2016. An SSIT brochure is being provided to all attendees. Paul Cunningham has been on the organizing committee, and I am a panelist. Stay tuned for links to the reports in future newsletters.
  • Ethics, Society and Technology (TechEthics), an Ad Hoc of Technical Activities, have heavily involved SSIT, including myself and Joe Herkert.
  • Our Distinguished Lecturer program has included a major ethics focus, including talks by Luis Kun in Region 9 and in late November by myself in Bosnia.
The ethics focus promises to expand into an IEEE-wide activity in 2017.

Update on IEEE IST-Africa/SSIT SIGHT Activities in 2016

IEEE IST-Africa/SSIT SIGHT was established in 2015 to carry out cross-border interventions in IST-Africa Partner Countries, initially in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa. SIGHT members currently include senior representatives of University of Gondar (Ethiopia), Strathmore University (Kenya), Chancellor College (Malawi), Nelson Mandela University (South Africa) and IST-Africa (Ireland)

We secured a project grant from the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee (IEEE HAC) in 2016 to fund travel and equipment costs associated with volunteer activities in rural and deep rural Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa. Based on an assessment of infrastructure and skills deficits carried out in rural and deep rural health clinics during 2015, the SIGHT volunteers have started the sensitization process in advance of installing touch screen laptops, tablets and WiFi routers, initially in three clinics (one each in Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi). This complements the activities of mHealth4Afrika, a European Commission co-funded Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation project focused on strengthening maternal and new born healthcare delivery in rural and deep rural health clinics.

Based on our cross-border, socio-cultural focus, the IEEE IST-Africa/SSIT SIGHT is developing and validating a replicable model to lower implementation risks associated with local volunteer-driven, technology enhanced interventions in rural environments. The strategy mobilizes collaborative open innovation, comparative baseline needs, and infrastructure assessments. Working from an ethos of sharing knowledge, lessons learned, and good practices, co-design and adaptation to local needs, this model will be applied over time in 18 IST-Africa partner countries.

For more information, please contact Paul Cunningham at

The following upcoming conferences will be of interest to SSIT members:

IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics
8-10 January, 2017, Las Vegas, NV, USA

SSIT is a proud to collaborate with the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society in holding their 35th annual conference, IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE), to be co-located with the CES® 2017 trade show. ICCE is the established forum for innovative research in all areas of consumer electronics.

The theme for ICCE 2017 is Virtual and Augmented Lifestyle. This year during the Mobile World Congress, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg stated that: "VR is the next platform, the most social platform." VR/AR technology has reached a level of maturity where it is about to impact on our daily lifestyle.

The ICCE 2017 program also features new activities designed to make it a more exciting conference, including affinity tracks organized with the IEEE Biometrics and RFID councils, the IEEE Cloud Computing initiative and the IEEE Society for the Social Implications of Technology. There will also be a dedicated industry track to highlight new and emerging industry research activities.

For more information and registration, visit our website.

IST-Africa Week 2017
8-11 May 2017, Windhoek, Namibia

Call for Papers - Extended Deadline 23 December

Hosted by the government of Namibia through the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology, supported by the European Commission and African Union Commission, and technically co-sponsored by IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT), IEEE Region 8 and IEEE South Africa Section, IST-Africa Week 2017 is the twelfth in an annual series of ministerial level technology research and innovation conferences.

Core thematic areas for IST-Africa 2017 include:
  • mHealth, eHealth and health information systems
  • Technology-enhanced learning and eskills
  • mAgriculture/eAgriculture and environmental sustainability
  • eInfrastructures and National Research and Education Networks (NREN)
  • Next generation computing: big data, cloud computing, future internet, Internet of Things
  • eGovernment-services to citizens and business
  • Content technologies: languages; digital preservation
  • Cyber security, privacy and trust
  • Collaborative open innovation and ICT-enabled entrepreneurship (including social entrepreneurship)
  • Sustainable development including ICT4D
  • Societal implications of technology
Follow IST-Africa on Twitter to get regular updates.

For further information, please email

IEEE 2017 International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS 2017)
9-11 August, 2017, Sydney, Australia

The SSIT Board of Governors is pleased to announce that ISTAS 2017 will be held in Sydney, Australia. The date and location of ISTAS 2017 has been chosen to coincide with the annual IEEE Panel of Conference Organizers (IEEE POCO) event, which will be held in Sydney from 7-9 August, and the biennial IEEE Sections Congress, which will also be held in Sydney 11-13 August, 2017.

The theme for ISTAS 2017 is "From Good Ideas to Practical Solutions", and is designed to focus on how we can identify a good technological idea and transition it into a practical solution that delivers real benefits to society. It will bring together scientists, engineers, technologists and scholars from multiple disciplines to hold a dialogue on many technological and societal issues, and collaborate on the co-creation of ideas to develop and utilize innovative solutions to address them.

Call for Papers
The ISTAS 2017 program structure provides for six keynote speakers, 72 oral and paper presentations, and 12 panels across three parallel tracks.

Paper proposals are solicited for oral presentations from industry, government and academia (including students) covering relevant research, technologies, methodologies, tools and case studies relevant to the conference theme and tracks. Papers on policy implications are also welcome. Full papers will be published in the Conference Proceedings. Papers accepted in the conference proceedings and presented during the conference will be submitted for inclusion in IEEE Xplore.
ISTAS 2017 Tracks:
  • Smart materials, smart buildings and smart cities
  • Climate, environment and sustainable technologies
  • Communications, security and privacy
  • Artificial intelligence and autonomous systems
  • e-Health, age care and assiste
    d living
  • Internet of things and consumer electronics
  • Digital senses, virtual reality and augmentation
  • Web science and big data
  • Green ICT
  • Defense technologies for public good
  • Humanitarian and emergency management
  • Ethics, law and policy
Key Dates:

28 February 2017 - Submission deadline for paper abstracts
13 March 2017 - Notification of acceptance
15 May 2017 - Final manuscript submission deadline

For details including information for authors, please visit the conference website. General inquiries should be addressed to the ISTAS 2017 General Chair, Philip Hall at

Dr. Katina Michael announces the following calls for papers for SSIT-related IEEE publications:

Greg Adamson Joe Herkert

We are pleased to announce that Greg Adamson and Joe Herkert have been selected by the Division VI Award Selection Committee to receive the 2016 Distinguished Leadership Award for their work to propagate the Field of Interest of a Division VI Society. Many congratulations, Greg and Joe!

Division VI is composed of these IEEE Societies: Education, Industrial Electronics, Professional Communication, Product Safety Engineering, Reliability, Social Implications of Technology, Technology & Engineering Management

SSIT Contribution to 2017 TAB Ad-hoc Committees
SSIT has been invited to contribute to the work of two TAB Ad-hoc Committees during 2017.

  • 2017 IEEE TAB Ad-hoc Committee on DIG ONCE
    This Ad-hoc will focus on how the IEEE can participate in and augment this policy initiative to couple the addition of broadband infrastructure with existing infrastructure improvements. This may include aspects such as technology (best practices), education (informing governments and utilities) and more. Previous relevant experience and/or civil engineering background are desirable.

  • 2017 IEEE TAB Ad-Hoc Committee on North and South Poles
    The main focus of the ad-hoc Committee is to seek in which ways IEEE can efficiently contribute to the different on-going and planned initiatives to study and address the changes that the North and South poles are experiencing from the environmental, communications, transportation, educational and outreach points of view.
If you believe you or a well-respected colleague can make a substantial contribution to either of these committees, please contact Paul Cunningham, 2017 SSIT President, at no later than 16 January, describing the contribution the nominee can make and provide a short supporting CV highlighting previous relevant experience and/or civil engineering background.

Stay Up-to-Date with IEEE SSIT Happenings

Visit the SSIT Blog for news items and the latest Society updates.

Newsletter Submission Guidelines

If you would like to submit a news item, SSIT-related update, volunteer opportunity, Call For Papers, award notice, or idea for a "Feature Article" for a future issue of the SSIT newsletter, please contact the editor Dr. Heather Love at Submissions for the January 2017 newsletter are due 26 December 2017.

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