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Message from the Editor
Heather Love, Editor, IEEE SSIT Newsletter

This month's newsletter includes important kudos for a well-deserved Student Chapter Award and a call for volunteers to engage with a new SSIT initiative to tackle Standards Development. Several excellent Conference and Publication opportunities also appear below.

As always, if you have a news item, SSIT-related update, volunteer opportunity, CFP, award notice, or idea for a "Feature Article," please contact me at Heather.Love@usd.edu. Submissions for the December 2017 newsletter are due by 20 November 2017.

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IEEE Region 9 (R9) Exemplary Student SSIT Chapter Award

Congratulations to the members of the IEEE SSIT Student Chapter of the Universidade of Brasilia (UnB) Centro-Norte Brasil Section, who received the "IEEE R9 Exemplary Student SSIT Chapter" award at the IEEE Student Branches Meeting of Latin America 13 October 2017 in Cusco, Peru. This achievement is particularly impressive, given that the group was only formed in February, 2017.

The Chapter has started strong, promoting humanitarian actions based on the United Nations's sustainable development goals for 2030. This year's SSIT UnB Student Chapter events have included: a hair donation for people with cancer, September Yellow activities to promote mental health, and a blood donation to celebrate IEEE Day 2017. In addition, the chapter has promoted a contest called Sustainable Cities Ideas to solve problems of Brasilia. On the technical activities front, the chapter developed two projects: "Signal" and "Recreate." "Signal" is a methodology to teach App programming for deaf students in public schools; "Recreate" is evolving to be the UnB recycle center for electronic waste.

The group began when students at UnB who were involved with projects related to environmental issues, humanitarian technologies, health, and well being decided to create the SSIT Student Chapter to increase their positive impact on society. According to Pamela Oliveira, chair of the chapter, the IEEE Student Branch offers many opportunities to volunteer. SSIT volunteering is important, she adds, because engineers should worry about the implications of their work on the environment and humanity.

The group is especially happy and proud about their achievement after less than one year of projects. This is just the beginning; they hope to grow even more and continue being a strong presence in Latin America.

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IEEE-SSIT Tackles Standards Development: Volunteers Needed

Submitted by Victoria A. Hailey and Kathryn Bennett

Read the full story on the SSIT Blog.

On 28 September 2017, SSIT was approved as a Standards Sponsor. This initiative was spearheaded by former and current SSIT Chairs, respectively, Greg Adamson and Paul Cunningham. A major catalyst to this effort was the IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems.

SSIT Standards Committee (SSIT/SC) will enable SSIT to develop relevant, useful, and needed standards within our key areas of interest. Because SSIT's scope of interest in standardization concerns how technology impacts the world, as well as how the application of technology can improve the world, the Sponsor is anticipating cross-Society collaborations, with engagement from a cross-section of stakeholders from across IEEE, especially given that ethics, sustainability, and social implications exist in the context of a particular technology.

SSIT will be developing standards for engineers to guide them into better awareness of the issues at stake, the potential for unintended consequences, and the need to design them out of their engineering processes, products, and services. Future SSIT/SC standards will be equipping engineers with the guidance to address the risks and opportunities that accompany technology and preempt any negative impacts on our world. Good governance that evaluates and balances outcomes against risk while deploying ethical considerations—such as sustainability, inequality, human dignity, safety, security, and inclusiveness, in other words, considering a first do no harm approach—is another step in this direction.

SSIT's Sponsor committee is seeking SSIT members to join our committee and participate in the evolution and development of standards within our scope of interest. If you have a passion for standards development work, please apply for membership. The Sponsor is seeking diversity amongst the members, both in terms of the mix of Societies represented as well through geographical representation. Previous standards development experience is an asset. Prospective members are encouraged to become members of an IEEE society, but it’s not a prerequisite to participate. If interested, please email your request for SSIT/SC membership to the Chair at vhailey.iso@gmail.com. Include in your request your reasons for joining, your resume, and the contribution you expect to make to SSIT/SC.

The following upcoming conferences should be of interest to many SSIT members:

9th International Conference on Ethics in Biology, Engineering, and Medicine
14-15 April 2018, Miami, FL, USA

The 9th International Conference on Ethics in Biology, Engineering, and Medicine will be held at the Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, FL, USA, 14-15 April 2018. Abstracts should be submitted by 15 November 2017. This conference has been endorsed or technically co-sponsored by IEEE/SSIT and many other professional societies and institutions.

More information about the conference can be obtained from the website.

Sixth Annual Governance of Emerging Technologies and Science (GETS) Conference
16-18 May, 2018, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

The Sixth Annual Conference on Governance of Emerging Technologies and Science: Law, Policy and Ethics is accepting submission of abstracts for proposed presentations. GETS is premised on the belief that there is much to be learned and shared from and across the governance experience for various emerging technologies.

The conference will consist of plenary and session presentations and discussions on regulatory, governance, legal, policy, social and ethical aspects of emerging technologies, including (but not limited to): nanotechnology, synthetic biology, gene editing, biotechnology, genomics, personalized medicine, digital health, human enhancement technologies, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, data analytics, telecommunications, information technologies, surveillance technologies, technology and privacy, cybersecurity, geoengineering, neuroscience, military technologies, artificial intelligence, algorithms, autonomous cars, and robotics.

The co-sponsors invite submission of abstracts for proposed presentations. Although abstracts are invited for any aspect or topic relating to the governance of emerging technologies (including any of the technologies listed above), we particularly encourage abstracts relating to this year’s two priority themes Internet of Things, and Success Stories in Public Engagement, International Coordination, or Soft Law.

Please submit your abstract (maximum 500 words; must contain your name and email address) by 31 January 2018. Submitters of abstracts need not provide a written paper, although provision will be made for posting and possible post-conference publication of papers for those who are interested.

Note: the sponsors will pay for the conference registration including all conference meals and events for one presenter for each accepted abstract. In addition, we will have limited funds available for travel subsidies (the application included in submission form).

Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (SPSP) Seventh Biennial Conference
29 June-2 July 2018, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium

The Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (SPSP) is an interdisciplinary community of scholars who approach the philosophy of science with a focus on scientific practice and the practical uses of scientific knowledge. For further details on our objectives, see our mission statement.

The SPSP conference provides a broad forum for scholars committed to making detailed and systematic studies of scientific practices - neither dismissing concerns about truth and rationality, nor ignoring contextual and pragmatic factors. The conference aims at cutting through traditional disciplinary barriers and developing novel approaches. We welcome contributions from not only philosophers of science, but also philosophers working in epistemology and ethics, as well as the philosophy of engineering, technology, medicine, agriculture, and other practical fields. Additionally, we welcome contributions from historians and sociologists of science, pure and applied scientists, and any others with an interest in philosophical questions regarding scientific practice.

Keynote speakers at the 2018 conference include:
  • William Bechtel, University of California at San Diego
  • Sabina Leonelli, University of Exeter
  • Maarten van Dyck, University of Ghent
  • Alison Wylie, University of British Columbia
For details regarding proposal guidelines please visit the event webpage.

Abstract submission deadline: 15 January 2018
Notification of acceptance: 7 March 2018
Main contact: Joe Rouse, jrouse@wesleyan.edu

An online submission site for paper or session proposals will be available later this fall. In addition, stay tuned for forthcoming details about a graduate student workshop, a smaller topical workshop before and after the conference, and a poster presentation session.

SPSP 2017-18 Organizing Committee:

Chiara Ambrosio, University College, London
Rachel Ankeny, University of Adelaide
Justin Biddle, Georgia Institute of Technology
Till Grüne-Yanoff, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm
Sabina Leonelli, University of Exeter
Matthew Lund, Rowan University
Joseph Rouse, Wesleyan University

Call for Papers for Special Issue of Proceedings of the IEEE
Machine Ethics: the design and governance of ethical AI and autonomous systems

Guest Editors:
  • Alan Winfield, University of the West of England (UWE), United Kingdom
  • Katina Michael, University of Wollongong, Australia
  • Jeremy Pitt, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • Vanessa Evers, University of Twente, Netherlands
Publication Date: 2018

The primary focus of this special issue will be on machine ethics, that is the question of how autonomous systems can be imbued with ethical values. Ethical autonomous systems are needed because, inevitably, near future systems are moral agents; consider driverless cars, or medical diagnosis AIs, both of which will need to make choices with ethical consequences. Using the terminology of James Moor (2006) [1] we seek papers that deal with both implicit ethical agents, that is machines designed to avoid unethical outcomes, and explicit ethical agents, that is machines which either explicitly encode or learn ethics and determine actions based on those ethics. Of course ethical machines are socio-technical systems thus, as a secondary focus, we invite papers that explore the educational, societal and regulatory implications of machine ethics, including the issue of ethical governance. Ethical governance is needed in order to develop standards and processes that allow us to transparently and robustly assure the safety of ethical autonomous systems and hence build public trust and confidence.
[1] James H. Moor: The Nature, Importance, and Difficulty of Machine Ethics, IEEE Intelligent Systems, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 18-21, July/August 2006.

Publish your Ethical Dilemma

The IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology has partnered with the IEEE Life Members Committee (LMC) to publish accounts of Society members' experiences grappling with ethical dilemmas in professional contexts. If you have an experience that involved navigating an ethical dilemma, 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 Word format. The IEEE Legal Department requires that all articles be fully sanitized to protect the privacy of people and organizations.

Submit manuscripts to Stacey Waters, IEEE Project Manager, at s.waters@ieee.org.

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