IEEE SSIT Newsletter – February 2017

By on February 15th, 2017 in Newsletter

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In this issue: Call for volunteers to support and promote SSIT’s Five Pillars, SSIT volunteer introductions, joint special issue Call for Papers from IEEE Technology and Society Magazine and IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, upcoming conferences, ethics and Green ICT updates

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Paul Cunningham

Message from the President

SSIT’s 45th Anniversary
During 2017, SSIT celebrates its 45th Anniversary as one of the fastest growing IEEE Societies. I welcome your ideas and suggestions for how to celebrate this milestone at Chapter level around the world, as well as through IEEE ISTAS 2017 and Sections Congress in Sydney in August.

SSIT’s Five Pillars – Call for Volunteers
SSIT activities going forward (including our Distinguished Lecturers Program) will now be focused around SSIT’s Five Pillars:

  • Sustainable development and humanitarian technology
  • Ethics, human values and technology
  • Technology benefits for all
  • Future societal impact of technology advances
  • Protecting the planet – sustainable technology

We are currently seeking volunteers to join sub-committees that will be responsible for operationalizing SSIT activities for each of these pillars. Please contact Paul Cunningham at with the subject: SSIT Five Pillars – “your pillar of interest” with a little background about your previous activities and track record in this field, your location, and the contribution you believe you can make. A responsible volunteer for your pillar of particular interest will follow up with you.

Please encourage respected peers, including students and young professionals, to also join SSIT and to consider volunteering. 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!

2017 SSIT Student membership is only US$4
Please remind peers, friends and family members who can take advantage of this fabulous opportunity to join a vibrant, growing, global community that is truly demonstrating leadership in supporting operationalization of the IEEE tagline, “Advancing Technology for Humanity.”

Paul M Cunningham, 2017-2018 IEEE SSIT President, is President and CEO with IIMC (Ireland), Founder and Coordinator of IST-Africa and Visiting Senior Fellow, Wrexham Glyndwr University.

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Over the next few months, we look forward to introducing you to members of the volunteer leadership team whose hard work makes SSIT a successful organization with wide-ranging impact that extends throughout the IEEE’s global, multi-disciplinary community.

Laura Edelson hails from Brooklyn, NY, USA, and has been an active SSIT volunteer since 2011. She began as liaison for Women in Engineering, and went on to serve as SSIT President from 2013-2014. More recently, Edelson was a member of the IEEE Technical Activities Board, and she has chaired the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee since 2016.

SSIT’s current Blog Master Jim Isaak is a resident of Bedford, NH, USA. He is a past IEEE Director, has been active in SSIT since 2003, and has served in numerous roles on a variety of IEEE Societies. His work overlaps with the SSIT’s Pillars focused on sustainability, ethics, and impact of emerging technology, and he is also interested in privacy, predictive (science) fiction, and policy.

Kimball Williams is based in Dearborn, MI, USA, and has been volunteering with SSIT since 2001. In addition to his work with the IEEE (where, like Jim, he has served as a Director), Kimball lectures on engineering ethics each year to local university graduating classes. When it comes to SSIT’s Five pillars, he is particularly invested in both ethics and the impact of emerging technology.

We invite you to submit your details to our volunteer directory.

Joint Special Issue-Call for Papers

IEEE Technology and Society Magazine and IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine are pleased to announce a Joint Special Issue for March 2018.

Due dates for authors are as follows:
1 May 2017: Submission deadline
1 August 2017: First decision communicated to authors
20 November 2017: Final acceptance decision communicated to authors
10 December 2017: Final manuscripts uploaded by authors

Additional information about each call for papers is available below. For further inquiries, please email Katina Michael at:

#1: Robotics and Social Implications in IEEE Technology and Society Magazine (M-T&S).

Guest Editors: Ramona Pringle (Ryerson University), Diana Bowman (Arizona State University), Meg Leta Jones (Georgetown University), and Katina Michael (University of Wollongong)

Robots have been used in a variety of applications, everything from healthcare to automation. Robots for repetitive actions exude accuracy and specificity. Robots don’t get tired, although they do require maintenance, they can be on 24×7, although stoppages in process flows can happen frequently due to a variety of external factors. It is a fallacy that robots don’t require human inputs and can literally run on their own without much human intervention. And yet, there is a fear surrounding the application of robots mostly swelled by sensational media reports and the science fiction genre. Anthropomorphic robots have also caused a great deal of concern for consumer advocate groups who take the singularity concept very seriously.

It is the job of technologists to dispel myths about robotics, and to raise awareness and in so doing robot literacy, the reachable limits of artificial intelligence imbued into robots, and the positive benefits that can be gained by future developments in the field. This special will focus on the hopes of robot application in non-traditional areas and the plausible intended and unintended consequences of such a trajectory.

Engineers in sensor development, artificial consciousness, components assemblage, visual and aesthetic artistry are encouraged to engage with colleagues from across disciplines- philosophers, sociologists and anthropologists, humanities scholars, experts in English and creative writing, journalists and communications specialists- to engage in this call. Multidisciplinary teams of researchers are requested to submit papers addressing pressing socio-ethical issues in order to provide inputs on how to build more robust robotics that will address citizen issues. For example:

  • How can self-driving cars make more ethical decisions?
  • How can co-working with robots becoming an acceptable practice to humans?
  • How might there be more fluent interactions between humans and robots?
  • Can drones have privacy-by-design incorporated into their controls?

This issue calls for technical strategic-level and high-level design papers that have a social science feel to them, and are written for a general audience. The issue encourages researchers to ponder on the socio-ethical implications stemming from their developments, and how they might be discussed in the general public.

Visit the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine submission portal.

#2: Socio-ethical Approaches to Robotics Development in IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine

Guest Editors: Noel Sharkey (University of Sheffield), Aimee van Wynsberghe (University of Twente), John C. Havens (The Global Initiative for Ethical Concerns in the Design of Autonomous Systems), and Katina Michael (University of Wollongong).

Converging approaches adopted by engineers, computer scientists and software developers have brought together niche skillsets in robotics for the purposes of a complete product, prototype or application. Some robotics developments have been met with criticism, especially those of an anthropomorphic nature or in a collaborative task with humans. Due to the emerging role of robotics in our society and economy, there is an increasing need to engage social scientists and more broadly humanities scholars in the field. In this manner we can furthermore ensure that robots are developed and implemented considering the socio-ethical implications that they raise.

This call for papers, supposes that more recently, projects have brought on board personnel with a multidisciplinary background to ask those all important questions about “what if” or “what might be” at a time that the initial idea generation is occurring to achieve a human-centered design. The ability to draw these approaches into the “design” process, means that areas of concern to the general public are addresses. These might include issues surrounding consumer privacy, citizen security, individual trust, acceptance, control, safety, fear of job loss and more.

In introducing participatory practices into the design process, preliminary results can be reached to inform the developers of the way in which they should consider a particular course of action. This is not to halt the freedom of the designer, but rather to consider the value-laden responsibility that designers have in creating things for the good of humankind, independent of their application.

This call seeks to include novel research results demonstrated on working systems that incorporate in a multidisciplinary approach technological solutions which respond to socio-ethical issues. Ideally this RAM paper is complemented by a paper submitted in parallel to T&SM that investigates the application from a socio-ethical viewpoint.

Visit The IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine submission portal.

The following upcoming conferences will be of interest to SSIT members:

IST-Africa Week 2017
8-11 May 2017, Windhoek, Namibia

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.

Core thematic areas for IST-Africa 2017 include:

  • mHealth, eHealth and health information systems
  • Technology-enhanced learning and eskills
  • mAgriculture/eAgriculture and environmental sustainability
  • eInfrastructures and National Research and Education Networks (NREN)
  • Next generation computing: big data, cloud computing, future internet, Internet of Things
  • eGovernment-services to citizens and business
  • Content technologies: languages; digital preservation
  • Cyber security, privacy and trust
  • Collaborative open innovation and ICT-enabled entrepreneurship (including social entrepreneurship)
  • Sustainable development including ICT4D
  • Societal implications of technology

For more information, please visit our website.

Follow IST-Africa on Twitter to get regular updates.

For further information, please email

IEEE 2017 International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS 2017)
From Good Ideas to Practical Solutions

9-11 August 2017, Sydney, Australia

The SSIT Board of Governors is pleased to announce that ISTAS 2017 will be held in Sydney, Australia. The date and location of ISTAS 2017 have been chosen to coincide with the annual IEEE Panel of Conference Organizers (IEEE POCO) event, which will be held in Sydney from 7-9 August, and the biennial IEEE Sections Congress, which will also be held in Sydney 11-13 August 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.

Key Dates:

  • 28 February 2017-Submission deadline for paper abstracts
  • 13 March 2017-Notification of acceptance
  • 15 May 2017-Final manuscript submission deadline

Call for Papers
The ISTAS 2017 program structure provides for six keynote speakers, 72 oral and paper presentations, and 12 panels across three parallel tracks.

Paper proposals are solicited for oral presentations from industry, government and academia (including students) covering relevant research, technologies, methodologies, tools and case studies relevant to the conference theme and tracks. Papers on policy implications are also welcome. Full papers will be published in the Conference Proceedings. Papers accepted in the conference proceedings and presented during the conference will be submitted for inclusion in IEEE Xplore.

ISTAS 2017 Tracks:

  • Smart materials, smart buildings and smart cities
  • Climate, environment and sustainable technologies
  • Communications, security and privacy
  • Artificial intelligence and autonomous systems
  • e-Health, age care and assisted living
  • Internet of things and consumer electronics
  • Digital senses, virtual reality and augmentation
  • Web science and big data
  • Green ICT
  • Defense technologies for public good
  • Humanitarian and emergency management
  • Ethics, law and policy

For details including information for authors, please visit the conference website. General inquiries should be addressed to the ISTAS 2017 General Chair, Philip Hall at

2017 IEEE Conference on Technologies for Sustainability – Engineering and the Environment (SusTech 2017)

The 5th IEEE Conference on Technologies for Sustainability – Engineering and the Environment (SusTech 2017) will be held 12-14 November 2017 in Phoenix, AZ, USA

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.

The 3rd IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, and Technology (ETHICS 2017) will be held 12-14 November 2017 in Ann Arbor, MI, USA with the theme Ethical Innovations in AI/AS.

Financial co-sponsors include SSIT, IEEE-USA, IEEE Standards Association and the Southeastern Michigan Section. Technical co-sponsors include the TA/TechEthics Initiative.

For further information, please contact the General Chair, Philip Hall at

Ethics Update from Dr. Greg Adamson

IEEE Board of Directors sets ethics as a priority in 2017
IEEE has had a Code of Ethics for more than 100 years. Throughout its 45 year history, SSIT has devoted significant effort to giving that code real meaning for practicing technologists. On occasion that was a challenge. In recent years, however, we have seen a significant growth in the public’s understanding of the need for ethical approaches, both our professional activities and in the way we create and build new technologies.

Today ethics is receiving more attention by technologists than ever before. Reasons include:

  • The financial impact of deliberate unethical activity, particularly Volkswagen’s (VW) US$15bn fine and reparations after evidence of falsification in code, and a recent FBI arrest of a VW executive.
  • The impact of accidental unethical activity, particularly the US$44bn fines and repa rations for BP following Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
  • A rise of ethical considerations in autonomous design, including cars and weapons.
  • The White House October 2016 report on AI, with a focus on ethics.
  • A call on IEEE and other professional organizations (ACM, AAAI) from a White House sponsored workshop to review or create Codes of Ethics reflecting the advent of AI.

Today there are more than two dozen initiatives, activities or events run by IEEE that include a significant ethics component. These include the IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems. The IEEE Standards Association has established the P7000 standard series on the inclusion of ethical considerations in design. The Technical Activities Board (which includes SSIT) has established an Ad Hoc Committee on Design for Ethics to meet the need to incorporate ethical considerations in technology design, something relevant across the Technical Societies and Councils. SSIT supports several ethics initiatives including the IEEE Ethics conference.

To coordinate this range of activities the IEEE Board of Directors has created the IEEE Ad Hoc Committee on IEEE Ethics Programs. This will focus on creating a roadmap for linking all the various activities as a part of making IEEE a global focus for ethics in technology.

If you are interested in getting involved in any of these activities, contact Greg Adamson at

Green ICT Community Update

Green ICT Brings Benefits to Society Information and communications technology (ICT) is a crucial driver of sustainable development, with the potential to reconcile socioeconomic benefits with positive environmental impacts throughout various ICT application sectors, while also improving the energy efficiency, carbon footprint and technology life cycle of ICT itself.

The “Greening through ICT” (GtICT) Summit is being launched in Paris, France 25 May 2017, in parallel with the IEEE International Conference on Communications ICC’17: Bridging People, Communities, and Cultures, 21-25 May 2017. The Summit’s objective will be to identify key technological, commercial and public policy challenges that must be overcome to achieve sustainability in our increasingly connected world.

As such, the event will stimulate a multidisciplinary discussion and bring together the research community, ICT practitioners, equipment, technology and vertical application providers, the ICT standardization community, as well as public policy influencers and decision makers. Interactive sessions are planned to foster exchanges between these stakeholder communities.

The mission of the IEEE Green ICT initiative is to develop a holistic approach to sustainability by incorporating green metrics in various IEEE technical domains. In addition to this new event, the initiative has resulted in the creation of new publications, training activities and standards working groups on the Green ICT theme.

Stay Up-to-Date with IEEE SSIT Happenings

Visit the SSIT Blog for news items and the latest Society updates.

Newsletter Submission Guidelines

If you would like to submit a news item, SSIT-related update, volunteer opportunity, Call For Papers, award notice, or idea for a “Feature Article” for a future issue of the SSIT newsletter, please contact the editor Dr. Heather Love at

Submissions for the March 2017 newsletter are due 24 February 2017.