Call for Papers: After Covid-19: Crises, Ethics, and Socio-Technical Change

By on March 19th, 2021 in Call for Papers, Health & Medical, Human Impacts, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact, Transactions

Special Issue of IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society

Confirmed Guest Editors

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


As the COVID-19 pandemic shows, crises can catalyze socio-technical changes at a speed and scale otherwise thought impossible. Crises expose the fragility and resilience of our sociotechnical systems – from healthcare to financial markets, internet connectivity, and local communities. Their urgent peril can rush through radical measures, such as states globally rolling out digital contact tracing applications. Crises can accelerate technological trends like the virtualization of work, commerce, education, and communing, and dramatically reshape markets, threatening economic incumbents and creating new opportunities for innovation and profiteering alike. Thus, we currently see physical retailers and entertainment venues defaulting, while online retail and streaming companies thrive and stores, artists, and manufacturers desperately trial new digitally enabled services and new forms of financing, production, and delivery. Technology companies and scientists are rapidly developing new technologies to respond to the pandemic, from 3D-printing medical devices to data and AI-driven symptom tracking and immunity certification, while struggling to counter tides of unvetted, potentially harmful medical advice, opinion, and cures.

In parallel, ongoing crises like COVID-19 often dramatically reshape political and public demands on science. Standard forms of scientific inquiry, responsible innovation, and technology ethics emphasize slowness, deliberation, critique, long-term anticipation and preparedness, and systematic accumulation and vetting of evidence. In contrast, in periods of crisis, policy-makers and media publics require concrete, real-time decision guidance and interventions from researchers that are at odds with the standard practices of science as well as research and technology ethics. This has led some researchers to suggest their own discipline may not be ‘crisis-ready’.

Finally, many of the dramatic and sudden adaptations to a crisis are bound to stay with us. “After 9/11” has become a marker for a new epoch of pervasive socio-technical regimes of surveillance that were considered exceptional and temporary when introduced. Similarly, many of today’s ad-hoc responses will become historical path dependencies for a new era “after COVID-19”.

Catalyzing rapid change; reshaping demands on science, technology, and their regulation; locking in future socio-technical regimes: All these factors make it crucial for researchers and technologists to consider the societal impacts of new technologies and socio-technical changes that respond to COVID-19. But they also invite us to better understand how crises impact socio-technical change, and how we can develop forms of science and technology ethics and regulation that fit the needs and demands of crises.

To this end, this special issue aims to bring together researchers from different disciplines exploring the intersections of technology, ethics, and COVID-19 as an exemplary crisis.


Submissions are especially invited on but not limited to the following topics intersecting with COVID-19 and crises:

  • Responsible innovation and science and technology ethics
  • Science and technology policy, regulation, and governance
  • Public understanding of and engagement with science and technology
  • Innovation processes
  • Health surveillance, privacy, and data protection
  • Algorithmic and technological biases and inequalities
  • Impacts of technologies during social isolation
  • Impacts of technologies on healthcare and key support workers
  • 3D printing and medical devices
  • Future Mobility
  • Data/AI-driven health and social control technologies
  • Virtual/remote work, education, and leisure

Submissions that will be considered out of scope include:

  • Work that does not touch ethical or societal impacts of science and technology
  • Clinical research where a medical journal would be more appropriate

How to Submit

For article formats, templates, and submission information, see

Submit your papers through

Important dates

  • Submissions open: Now
  • Submissions close: 1 December 2021
  • Publication of final issue: 1 May 2022

Review and publication process

Papers will be reviewed and published online first upon acceptance on a rolling basis.

Papers accepted for full review will be reviewed by two anonymous reviewers and a meta-reviewer, with a target turnaround of three weeks for a review decision.

To be considered for the special issue, revisions of papers that are revise-and-resubmit or accepted with minor/major changes need to be submitted before 1st March 2022. Should they require a further cycle of revision, they will be included in a future regular issue of the Transactions.