Category: Social Implications of Technology

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).

AI vs “AI”: Synthetic Minds or Speech Acts

By on June 10th, 2021 in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Editorial & Opinion, Ethics, Human Impacts, Magazine Articles, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

Just as the “autonomous” in lethal autonomous weapons allows the military to dissemble over responsibility for their effects, there are civilian companies leveraging “AI” to exert control without responsibility.

And so we arrive at “trustworthy AI” because, of course, we are building systems that people should trust and if they don’t it’s their fault, so how can we make them do that, right? Or, we’ve built this amazing “AI” system that can drive your car for you but don’t blame us when it crashes because you should have been paying attention. Or, we built it, sure, but then it learned stuff and it’s not under our control anymore—the world is a complex place.

From Artificial Intelligence Bias to Inequality in the Time of COVID-19

By on June 8th, 2021 in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Editorial & Opinion, Human Impacts, Magazine Articles, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated existing global inequalities. Whether at the local, national, or international scale, the gap between the privileged and the vulnerable is growing wider, resulting in a broad increase in inequality across all dimensions of society. The disease has strained health systems, social support programs, and the economy as a whole, drawing an ever-widening distinction between those with access to treatment, services, and job opportunities and those without.

Champions of AI4Eq: Equity as an Adaptive Challenge

By on May 27th, 2021 in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Human Impacts, Last Word, Magazine Articles, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

We celebrated AI for mental health equity when access is augmented for marginalized populations. We applauded AI as a complement to current services; practitioners would be less overtaxed and more productive, thereby serving vulnerable populations better.

Book Review: Techno-Fixers: Origins and Implications of Technological Faith

By on May 23rd, 2021 in Book Reviews, Environment, Human Impacts, Magazine Articles, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

The public’s faith in science and technology has never been higher. Computer “apps” that explore things such as the frequency of, and point of origin of, COVID-related Google search terms, and Twitter posts, are being used to trace the progress of the virus and to predict the sites of further outbreaks. The United States has been roiled by the death, at the hands of the police, of George Floyd. Floyd’s killing was captured by an app that has been circulating throughout the globe that has acquired the near iconic power of the crucifixion. With the majority of the American people equipped to make audio–visual recording of police brutality and post them on social media, we expect that crimes such as this will certainly diminish.

Being Human in a Global Village – IEEE 2020 Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century

By on May 22nd, 2021 in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Case Studies, Conferences, Environment, Ethics, Human Impacts, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact 22-25 July 2021, Chennai, INDIA N R Narayana Murthy to present Opening Speech on 22 July 2021. Infosys co-founder…  Read More

Book Review: Hacking Diversity: The Politics of Inclusion in Open Technology Cultures

By on May 21st, 2021 in Book Reviews, Ethics, Human Impacts, Magazine Articles, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

Open technology communities are loosely organized, volunteer, online groups, focused on development and distribution of open or free software and hardware. “Hacking Diversity:The Politics of Inclusion in Open Technology Cultures”  is a study of the efforts of open technology communities to “hack” the issues around the lack of diversity that pervades not only their volunteer communities, but also their related disciplines at large.

Toward a More Equal World: The Human Rights Approach to Extending the Benefits of Artificial Intelligence

By on April 29th, 2021 in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Editorial & Opinion, Environment, Ethics, Human Impacts, Magazine Articles, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

There is huge potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to bring massive benefits to under-served populations, advancing equal access to public services such as health, education, social assistance, or public transportation, AI can also drive inequality, concentrating wealth, resources, and decision-making power in the hands of a few countries, companies, or citizens. Artificial intelligence for equity (AI4Eq) calls upon academics, AI developers, civil society, and government policy-makers to work collaboratively toward a technological transformation that increases the benefits to society, reduces inequality, and aims to leave no one behind.

Artificial Intelligence for a Fair, Just, and Equitable World

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

From the 1970s onward, we started to dream of the leisure society in which, thanks to technological progress and consequent increase in productivity, working hours would be minimized and we would all live in abundance. We all could devote our time almost exclusively to personal relationships, contact with nature, sciences, the arts, playful activities, and so on. Today, this utopia seems more unattainable than it did then. Since the 21st century, we have seen inequalities increasingly accentuated: of the increase in wealth in the United States between 2006 and 2018, adjusted for inflation and population growth, more than 87% went to the richest 10% of the population, and the poorest 50% lost wealth .