The IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) has had many volunteers step into leadership positions for purposefully limited terms over the past half-century. We address the challenges and opportunities of our day and then move on, unlike some world leaders who cannot bear to fade away.
This Anniversary Year provides a reason to reflect on the fact that many members have been involved with the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) throughout their full professional careers.
Where do historical debates take us? Their political and economic contexts are similar to ours, and even the list of technological issues is familiar. Many decades later, institutions still feel shaky, economies remain inequitable, geopolitics are increasingly multipolar, and societies are riven by technological change.
Emerging social contexts add new requirements to the knowledge that successful roboticists need. Much of this additional knowledge comes from the social sciences and humanities.
SSIT members have a history of getting into “good trouble” as they encourage IEEE toward more humanistic stances on ethics, transparency, sustainability, and global equity.
IEEE SSIT might better fit the dictionary’s secondary definition of community, by having a sense of fellowship because we share common goals. If so, what are those goals?
Critical thinking is a mainstream part of some educational traditions, but is it universally valued? Only some truths have an objective basis and many others depend on the eye of the beholder. No real society values everyone equally.
Unintended consequences of technological development matter in practice and thus are not just of academic interest. SSIT would do well to spark constructive and practical discussion about managing unintended consequences.
In 2020, our flagship ISTAS conference and the cosponsored conferences were huge successes, with record attendance, partly because going virtual allowed wider participation.