|In this issue: Committees-Introductions and Volunteer Opportunities, Imminent Deadlines for Journal and Conference Call for Papers, Remembering Virginia Mary Edgerton
Message from the President
Call for Volunteers
We are also looking for nominations to chair the SSIT Pillar on Universal Access to Technology.
If you are interested in getting involved, please contact me at email@example.com, Subject: SSIT 5 Pillars “your pillar of interest.” You can help me point you in the right direction by briefly describing your previous activities and track record in this field, your location (city, chapter, section), two sub-committees of interest, and some insight into the contribution you believe you can make. A responsible volunteer will follow up with you.
If there is no SSIT Chapter or SSIT Student Chapter near you, let us know if you would like support to establish a new Chapter.
We are pleased to continue our series of introductions to members of the volunteer leadership team whose hard work makes SSIT a successful organization with wide-ranging influence that extends throughout the IEEE’s global, multi-disciplinary community.
We encourage all SSIT members to submit your details to our volunteer directory.
Joint Special Issue-Call for Papers
Remember that the submission deadline for the March 2018 Joint Special Issue of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine and IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine is fast approaching!
Due dates for authors are as follows:
Additional information about each call for papers is available at the links below below. For further inquiries, please email Katina Michael at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
#1: Robotics and Social Implications in IEEE Technology and Society Magazine
Visit the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine submission portal.
#2: Socio-ethical Approaches to Robotics Development in IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine
Visit The IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine submission portal.
General Call for Papers: IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine
Publish your Ethical Dilemma in the SSIT and Life Members Committee (LMC) Newsletter As we mentioned last month, the SSIT and LMC have approved an initiative to publish brief articles (300-500 words) detailing society members’ experiences grappling with ethical dilemmas in professional contexts. Beginning in June 2017, contributions of this sort will be published simultaneously in both newsletters after authors work with the editors of the two publications. If you have a story to tell, please contact the SSIT newsletter editor, Dr. Heather Love at Heather.Love@usd.edu.
The following upcoming conferences should be of interest to many SSIT members:
IST-Africa Week 2017
Hosted by the government of Namibia through the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology, supported by the European Commission and African Union Commission, and technically co-sponsored by IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT), IEEE Region 8 and IEEE South Africa Section, IST-Africa Week 2017 is the twelfth in an annual series of Ministerial level Technology Research and Innovation Conferences focused on Sustainable Development and International Research Cooperation.
IST-Africa is a unique community that brings together cross-disciplinary stakeholders from the public, private, education and research, societal sectors with end-user communities focused on ICT and STI Research and Innovation and their contribution to sustainable development.
IST-Africa is cooperating with IEEE to organise the first IEEE Experts in Technology and Policy (ETAP) Forum on Internet Governance, Cybersecurity and Privacy to take place in Africa as the pre-conference event on Tuesday 30 May.
The IST-Africa Week 2017 Advance Program featuring over 190 presentations from 35 countries can be downloaded at their website
Follow IST-Africa on Twitter to get regular updates.
For further information, please email Secretariat@IST-Africa.org.
IEEE 2017 International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS 2017)
The theme for ISTAS 2017 is “From Good Ideas to Practical Solutions,” and is designed to focus on how we can identify a good technological idea and transition it into a practical solution that delivers real benefits to society. It will bring together scientists, engineers, technologists and scholars from multiple disciplines to hold a dialogue on many technological and societal issues, and collaborate on the co-creation of ideas to develop and utilize innovative solutions to address them.
The main conference will be supported by several workshops and special sessions, including the 17th Workshop on Social Implications of National Security, hosted by Prof. Katina Michael (University of Wollongong), as well as a Doctoral Mentoring Workshop for PhD Students, hosted by the University of New South Wales.
For additional information, including the complete conference announcement, calls for papers, and information for authors, please visit the ISTAS 2017 website. General inquiries should be addressed to the ISTAS 2017 General Chair, Philip Hall at email@example.com.
IEEE Global Humanitarian Conference (GHTC)
GHTC focuses on innovation, deployment and adaptation of technology for humanitarian goals and sustainable development. The conference invites presenters to showcase innovation and progress in technology and methodology addressing the socio-cultural and socio-economic needs of vulnerable and resource-constrained end-user communities in developing and developed countries, as well as confronting the challenges of both natural and man-made disasters.
Key focus areas that are particularly relevant include (but are not limited to):
For more information, visit our website.
5th IEEE Conference on Technologies for Sustainability – Engineering and the Environment (SusTech 2017)
SusTech 2017 is sponsored by the IEEE Oregon Section, IEEE Region 6, IEEE Phoenix Section and IEEE-USA. SSIT is a technical co-sponsor long term supporter of the SusTech conference series and host of the Social Implications/Quality of Life Track.
For further details, please visit the conference website. Sign up for the conference newsletter and watch for the Call for Papers to be issued soon.
3rd IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, and Technology (ETHICS 2017)
For further information, please contact the General Chair, Philip Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On 28 February 2017, IEEE Mmmber Virginia Mary Edgerton passed away in a nursing home in Sweden. Virginia was the first IEEE Member and woman to request and receive ethical support from the then brand new Member Conduct Committee (MCC) in 1978. The MCC issued its report in June 1978 supporting her actions. She was also the second recipient of the IEEE SSIT Carl Barus Award for Outstanding Service in the Public Interest.
I never met Virginia Edgerton personally but I did play a part in her getting IEEE support for her ethics conflict with a former employer in New York City. One day in 1977, about the time I, Dr. Stephen H. Unger and others on the IEEE-USA Activities Board Ethics Task Force (USAB), developed the USAB procedures to discipline members and provide them ethical support, I received a telephone call from Virginia Edgerton asking for IEEE ethical support of her actions taken in a police dispatch system she was working on, which led to her being terminated for elevating her concerns above her unsympathetic Supervisor. I referred her to Steve Unger, who took it from there, as the story is told next.
The following is the summary report published by the then IEEE Committee on the Social Implication of Technology (CSIT), in its 1978 #22 issue of its CSIT Newsletter:
Reports on IEEE’S First Ethics Case
The two reports in this issue of Technology and Society are outgrowths of a case involving Ms. Virginia Edgerton, a senior information scientist with the Circle Project of the New York City Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, who was discharged after raising questions concering the efficacy of a computerized police emergency dispatch system-first to her supervisor and finally to the members of the Circle Committee. Ms. Edgerton contacted CSIT in June 1977, requesting assistance. At that time no formal mechanism existed within IEEE for evaluation potential ethics cases.
After a subcommittee of CSIT’s Working Group Ethics and Employment Pracices (chaired by Stephan Unger) completed its investigation of the case reported on here. IEEE instituted formal procedures for handling such situations. These were placed under the jurisdiction of the Member Conduct Committee (MCC). When the CSIT report was presented to the Executive Committee of the IEEE Board of Directors 21 May 1978, that body referred the matter to the MCC for consideration under the new procedures. Both the report and the complete file on which it was based, were then turned over to the MCC.
That group, chaired by James Fairman, reviewed the file, obtained a notarized statement from Ms. Edgerton, the individual seeking support, and then drafted its own report. Following the precedent set by the CSIT subcommittee, this draft was sent to the managers involved for their comments, and was subsequently presented to the IEEE Executive Committee with the recommendation that both the MCC and CSIT reports be published and that certain other steps be taken in support of Ms. Edgerton.
The Executive Committee then directed General Manager Richard Emberson to seek the opinion of IEEE’s attorney, James Wiener, concerning the legal aspects of publication. After discussion and some correspondence involving Dr. Emberson, Mr. Wiener, Mr. Fairman and Dr. Under, a consensus was reached that full publication was appropriate. This view was conveyed to the Executive Committee which, at its October meeting, approved such publication.
An article summarizing the Edgerton case appeared in the December 1978 issue of The Institute. Both committee reports are reprinted in their entirety here.
Subsequent to this, the new IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT), awarded Virginia the second Carl Barus Award for Outstanding Service in the Public Interest. Below is the photograph of Dr. Stephen H. Unger presenting Virginia Edgerton her Barus Award.
On a more personal side of Virginia, here is a first-hand account by Robert Osband, of the interaction he had with Virginia in the 1970s when both resided in the New York Area.
“I am very saddened to learn of the death of my old friend Virginia Edgerton.
She was a customer in the mid 1970s when I worked at The Computer Store of New York on 39th St near 6th Ave. When I moved across town to The Computer Mart on 30th St and Madison, she found me there, and became a “regular” in the Books section of the shop. We became friends and would occasionally chat over a beer at a little “British pub” near her apartment house on Park Ave South. On 17 December 1978, we stopped for coffee at a restaurant called “Kitty Hawk” in Manhattan we happened to be passing on the 75th Anniversary of the Wright Brother’s First Flight.
Virginia’s odyssey with the whistle blowing she did took years to get her recognition, but I was happy that she asked me to accompany her when she got her award from the IEEE, and naturally, I was very proud of her for receiving it.
One day, she came into the Computer Mart and pleaded with me to take over a class she was giving as an Adjunct Instructor at Baruch College on “Introduction to Teleprocessing.” She needed to find someone to take over the class before the school would let her out of her contract so she could take a job in Ohio. I agreed, and taught the class for a couple of years, but that was the last contact I had with Virginia. I’m sorry I have no further information to help you with, though I now recall a conversation we had that she had also attend the “Convocation on Communications honoring the 100th anniversary of the Telephone” at MIT in 1976. I was living in Cambridge, MA at the time with a group of science fiction fans, and was a bit of a “phone freak” even then. The highlight of that event was getting to meet Arthur C. Clark the science fiction author who had first calculated the Geostationary Orbit published in Wireless World magazine in 1945. When Clark remarked in his speech at that time that an “Infomaniac” was someone who needed to be where the information was anytime he could get there, it was all I could do to keep my seat, and NOT jump up and yell, “That’s Right! That’s why I’m here!” I always think of that whenever I attend a trade show exhibit hall.
Over the years I’ve wondered why Virginia was there, and never had the chance to ask if maybe she was the daughter of THAT Edgerton of MIT which would have gained her admittance. At the commemorative banquet dinner put on by AT&T, a book was placed on every seat, “The Telephone” by John Brooks which was a history of the device’s invention. Virginia claimed she left hers behind after the dinner, and I had picked one up that was left behind after I came out from the back of the room after the talk to look around. Years later, as a call center agent for Store.Palm.Com I got a call from a John Brooks who needed an accessory for his Palm Pilot. I asked if he was the author of “The Telephone,” and sure enough, he was! A pleasant conversation ensued, and his order got Extra Special service!”
This feature was compiled by Walter L. Elden, P.E. (Ret), IEEE and SSIT Life Senior member.
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