Planning for the Future

By on December 17th, 2017 in Human Impacts, Magazine Articles, President's Message, Societal Impact

Change tends to concentrate the mind. In times of perceived significant or accelerated change, humans tend to reassess the past, reinterpret the present, and consider the implications for the future. Such change can be personal, organizational, or societal.

Societal change historically tends to be driven by a complex interplay of factors as diverse as climate and food security, conflict and disease, culture and technology, politics and religion. While societal change often takes place over extended periods of time, it should never be forgotten that at key times in the history of human society, innovation (in areas including culture, art, literature, medicine, music, science, or technology) can be accelerated by a combination of necessity and serendipity. We are currently experiencing such an accelerated transition.

Technological innovation clearly has far reaching implications for the future evolution of human society and the millions of other species sharing this green and blue planet. The ethical implications of interdependencies, context, and socio-cultural norms should never be forgotten when considering potential unintended and unanticipated consequences. With the increasingly rapid rate of technological innovation and societal change, at no time in the history of our Society, has our mandate been of more consequence.

As a Society whose focus complements the technical activities of all other IEEE Societies, contributions by our Society are in ever increasing demand both inside and beyond IEEE. The IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) is truly demonstrating leadership in supporting operationalization of the IEEE Tagline, “Advancing Technology for Humanity.”

The contribution of our active and committed volunteers as it relates to conferences, publications, distinguished lectures, and standards for example is widely recognized. The sheer scale of the opportunities we are being asked to address requires us to accelerate expanding our programs and continue growing our global footprint.

Meeting this objective requires access to more volunteers to undertake these responsibilities and the necessary financial and other resources required to adequately support our Volunteers and Chapters, as well as our Young Professionals, Students, Women in Engineering, SIGHT, Distinguished Lecturers, Publications, and Education programs.

Call for Volunteers

I invite you to help SSIT continue to make a difference. Volunteer opportunities include:

  • Serve your local community through SSIT Chapters.
  • Contribute to the work of SSIT’s committees.
  • Volunteer to host SSIT Distinguished Lecturers.
  • Submit articles or review submissions to IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.
  • Review submissions to IEEE ISTAS, Norbert Weiner, IEEE Ethics, IST-Africa Week, and other SSIT supported conferences.
  • Support activities of the IEEE SSIT IST-Africa SIGHT in IST-Africa Partner Countries.
  • Represent SSIT on IEEE committees (TAB, BoD, Standards, Future Directions Initiative)
  • Serve on the SSIT Board of Governors.

If any of these opportunities are of potential interest or if you would like to recommend someone, please contact me and I will direct you to the responsible team.

Call for Donations, Gifts, and Bequests

SSIT is launching a fundraising campaign focused on securing the level of resources required to scale activities over the coming years. Funds will be invested in further strengthening and expanding volunteer activities. Options to financially support SSIT volunteer activities include:

  • Donate to SSIT online
  • Mail a check payable to the “IEEE Foundation – SSIT Fund” to: IEEE Foundation, 445 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854, U.S.A.
  • Direct a gift to the “IEEE Foundation — SSIT Fund” from your donor advised fund, foundation or family office
  • Donate in honor or memory of someone who has touched your life or others
  • Remember SSIT in your will
  • Considering asking your employer to match your personal donation

Thanks and Welcome

I would like to acknowledge the enormous contribution Prof. Katina Michael, University of Wollongong, made during her six years as Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, and warmly welcome Prof. Jeremy Pitt, Imperial College London, who will step into Kat’s shoes in 2018.


Paul M. Cunningham, 2017–2018 IEEE-SSIT President, is President & CEO, IIMC (Ireland); Director, IST-Africa Institute (; Visiting Professor, International University of Management (Namibia); and Visiting Senior Fellow, Wrexham Glyndwr University (Wales). Email: