Category: Social Implications of Technology

The Need for Public Interest Technology

By on September 7th, 2021 in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Editorial & Opinion, Ethics, Human Impacts, Magazine Articles, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

Systems can be designed using methodologies like value-sensitive design, and operationalized, to produce socio-technical solutions to support or complement policies that address environmental sustainability, social justice, or public health. Such systems are then deployed in order to promote the public interest or enable users to act (individually and at scale) in a way that is in the public interest toward individual and communal empowerment.

When Outlandish Science Fiction Becomes Real

By on September 5th, 2021 in Blog Posts, Case Studies, Environment, Health & Medical, Human Impacts, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

The nuclear anxiety of the Cold War now seems quaint. While speculative writers of the late 20th-early 21st centuries have largely relegated nukes to the past, the situation at San Onofre reminds us of our sins — of assuming the future would take care of the future. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission enabled this consensual hallucination. Did it take climate change into consideration?

Reflection for a More Equitable World Post-Pandemic

By on September 2nd, 2021 in Ethics, Human Impacts, Last Word, Magazine Articles, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

Reflective thinking allows humans to examine the past with intentionality, learn from what happened, and adapt accordingly. We explore thoughts, feelings, and actions, mine out insights, and enhance awareness.

Covid-19 in Conversations

By on August 21st, 2021 in Articles, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Editorial & Opinion, Ethics, Health & Medical, Human Impacts, Magazine Articles, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

The fiercest public health crisis in a century has elicited cooperative courage and sacrifice across the globe. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic is producing severe social, economic, political, and ethical divides, within and between nations. It is reshaping how we engage with each other and how we see the world around us. It urges us to think more deeply on many challenging issues—some of which can perhaps offer opportunities if we handle them well. The transcripts that follow speak to the potency and promise of dialogue. They record two in a continuing series of “COVID-19 In Conversations” hosted by Oxford Prospects and Global Development Institute.

Bias and Discrimination in AI: A Cross-Disciplinary Perspective

By on August 7th, 2021 in Articles, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Ethics, Human Impacts, Magazine Articles, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

Digital discrimination is becoming a serious problem, as more and more decisions are delegated to systems increasingly based on artificial intelligence techniques such as machine learning. Although a significant amount of research has been undertaken from different disciplinary angles to understand this challenge—from computer science to law to sociology— none of these fields have been able to resolve the problem on their own terms. We propose a synergistic approach that allows us to explore bias and discrimination in AI by supplementing technical literature with social, legal, and ethical perspectives.

Facing the Fragility of the Man-Made World

By on August 7th, 2021 in Articles, Blog Posts, Case Studies, Environment, Ethics, Human Impacts, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

When we see a built world, we tend to take its permanence and stability for granted. For those who have chosen coastal homes, that built world goes back at least 50 years, with few residents ever realizing that oceans, lakes, and rivers are living entities constantly in motion. The average person relies upon experts such as architects and civil engineers, and supposed guardrails such as state building codes and homeowner associations, to assess safety when purchasing property. But the 21st-century assumption that the built world is stable is a risky bet. Especially in “business-friendly” states. 

Vaccines, Public Health, and the Law

By on July 21st, 2021 in Articles, Editorial & Opinion, Magazine Articles, Social Implications of Technology

Disease prevention due to successful vaccination is a double-edged sword as it can give the illusion that mass vaccination is no longer warranted. Antivaccination movements are not completely absent throughout history, but for example, most recently, parents have been declining childhood vaccines at alarming levels [2, S9]. Safety concerns and misinformation seem to be at the forefront of these movements.

High Voltages and Low Esthetic Standards: Three Design Principles to Humanize Electricity Pylons

By on July 11th, 2021 in Social Implications of Technology

Few people would celebrate modern infrastructure networks as magnificent beacons of our civilization: our powerlines and pipelines are drab, unsightly intrusions on the landscape. Reflecting on this, the philosopher Alain de Botton points out the Roman aqueduct at Pont Du Gard in Southern France, which is now a famous tourist attraction even though it was built for the dull task of supplying municipal water. Wisely, the Romans built it, and many others, for both beauty and function, brightening citizens’ views while slaking their thirst. Indeed, so lovely is the Roman aqueduct of Segovia that it is featured in the emblem of that province.

A headshot of SSIT's 2021-2022 President, Clint Andrews

If a Colleague Asks: “Will My Innovation Have Unintended Consequences?”

By on June 20th, 2021 in Articles, Human Impacts, Magazine Articles, President's Message, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

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.

Norbert Wiener – Governance with Probabilities

By on June 14th, 2021 in Conferences, Human Impacts, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

The 21st Century Norbert Wiener Conference with the theme: “Being Human in a Global Village” is the third in a series of conferences initiated by the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT), following events in Boston (2014) and Melbourne (2016).