July | August  2021
Message from the Editor
Heather Love, Editor, IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) Newsletter

Dear SSIT Members,

Summer in Ontario has been barrelling ahead, and somehow July and August have melded into one… A fact that is reflected in this double-issue of the SSIT newsletter. Without further ado, here’s a quick rundown of the July/August highlights:

  • Calls for Nominations are still open for SSIT President-Elect (deadline: 30 September) – note that information about the slate of candidates for the Member-at-Large positions will be posted in next month’s newsletter;
  • Registration for the ISTAS21 conference is OPEN (early rates available until 15 September), and new information is available about keynotes, special sessions, and student/young professional engagement activities at this year’s event;
  • The 2021 recipient of the IEEE SSIT Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional Responsibility has been announced;
  • SSIT’s 3rd Conference on Norbert Wieners in the 21st Century took place in July;
  • The SSIT Student Activities Committee and website team have been busy, and invite your involvement;
  • Information about several publication and conference opportunities that should be of interest to many SSIT members are outlined in the final sections of the newsletter.

As always, I invite submissions from all SSIT members for inclusion in future newsletters. In particular, I’d love to hear about your local chapter meetings, events, or outreach activities. To announce an event, news item, volunteer opportunity, CFP, award notice, or other item, please contact me at [email protected]. Submissions for each newsletter are due by the first week of the month.

-Heather Love

SSIT Announcements
Call for SSIT Board of Governors Nominations: President-Elect Deadline, 30 September 2021
SSIT is seeking candidates for President-Elect (2022); this position is a voting member of the SSIT BoG. The 2022 President-Elect is a five-year commitment
  • One year as President-Elect (2022)
  • Two years as President (2023-2024)
  • Two years as Past President (2025-2026)

The President-Elect should expect to spend two to four days per month on SSIT-related activities. As the Society President this time will increase to four to eight days per month. The President leads the monthly BoG conference calls. Additionally, the President attends three two-day Technical Activities Board (TAB) meetings per year, usually held in February, June and November. Travel expenses associated with attendance at the TAB meetings are provided by SSIT.

The deadline for nomination for President Elect is 30 September 2021.

For more information: Potential candidates for either position are welcome to contact the SSIT Nominations Committee Chair Bob Dent.
IEEE ISTAS21: Registration Open! Find out about: Keynotes, Special Sessions, Student Essay Contest, Mentoring Sessions
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (Virtual Event) | 28-31 October 2021
We are pleased to announce that ISTAS21 registration is now OPEN! Be sure to register by 15 September to take advantage of early rates. A number of complimentary registrations are available for students and individuals facing financial hardship. For full details, visit the conference Registration Page.

In case you’re looking for a reason to register… The ISTAS21 program (including the ETHICS-2021 track) will feature 5 Keynotes and 20 Special Sessions that address the conference theme, “Technological Stewardship & Responsible Innovation,” from a variety of angles. The draft conference schedule will be available soon.

Thanks to partnerships with SSIT’s Young Professionals Committee and Student Activities Committee, this year’s conference features the following two inaugural events:

We look forward to seeing you at ISTAS21 in October!

Please contact Heather Love or Rozita Dara (ISTAS21 Conference Co-chairs) at [email protected] if you have additional questions about ISTAS21.

Announcement: Moshe Vardi Receives Norbert Wiener Award
Prepared by Clint Andrews, SSIT President
The IEEE SSIT Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional Responsibility is given annually to recognize an exceptional contribution or outstanding career by an individual or team of up to three members in the field of the social implications of technology. The award serves as a reminder of what Wiener stood for, and of what each individual can do to make this a better world.

SSIT is proud to announce that Dr. Moshe Vardi of Rice University is the 22nd recipient of this important award. He is being given this award "for leadership in raising awareness on adverse societal consequences of computing and communication technologies."

During a distinguished career spanning industry and academia, specifically IBM and Rice University, Dr. Vardi has made remarkable contributions to this most important of conversations. The following excerpts from a few of the nominating letters give the flavor of his contributions:
  • "Moshe Vardi, a noted Computer Science innovator, has transformed into one of the discipline’s most ardent spokesmen about the societal impact and consequences of computing and communication technologies."
  • "Prof. Vardi has seemingly boundless energy."
  • "Moshe exemplifies Wiener’s unrelenting engagement with the social consequences of new technology."
  • "Moshe’s essays offer no apologies."
Wiener says: We must always exert the full strength of our imagination. Dr, Vardi follows in this tradition. On going beyond his comfort zone, he writes  "I did not have a core expertise on how globalization will affect computing. It was out of my area, out of my domain. But I wanted to be a good student." And on asking hard questions of the profession, he has this to say : We like to think that what we're doing is a good thing…. But what happens if we suddenly say, ‘Wait a minute. Are you sure?" As these quotes begin to show, Dr. Vardi has become a leading contributor to the conversation on adverse consequences of computing and communication technologies, very much in the tradition of Norbert Wiener.


This award was officially conferred on 22 July 2021, during the Inaugural event of the IEEE 3rd Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century, a virtual conference hosted by Anna University, Chennai, India. Conference attendees were treated to a short talk by Dr. Vardi during the Inaugural, as well as a keynote presentation on the final day of the conference.
Report: IEEE 3rd Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century
The IEEE 3rd Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century (21CW), hosted by Anna University (Chennai, India) and sponsored by SSIT, took place as a virtual event from 22-26 July 2021. The 2021 conference theme, "Being Human in a Global Village," invited submissions from a range of disciplinary perspectives, ranging from technical to social to philosophical to artistic.

The diverse conference program included:
The conference committee thanks all presenters, attendees, sponsors, and reviewers, as well as SSIT and Anna University for their support of this event. The conference proceedings will be published through IEEE Xplore in the coming month, and recordings of the sessions are currently being prepared for posting to SSIT’s IEEE.tv channel.

The next conference in this series will take place at Waseda University, Japan in 2023. We hope to see many of you there!
Report: IEEE SSIT Student Activities Committee
Submitted by Saiteja Goud Karingu
Over the past two months, the SSIT Student Activities Committee (SAC) has continued its diligent efforts to recruit and train leaders and to facilitate engagement opportunities for SSIT’s current (and future) student members. All sessions took place virtually on IEEE WebEx.

SSIT Professional Chapter Chairs Meetup
On 19 June 2021 SAC representatives had the opportunity to meet with SSIT’s professional chapter chairs. The interaction was very productive, and the chairs showered a lot of appreciation for the programs that SAC is organising. They emphasised the need for such initiatives and provided several constructive suggestions for enhancing future SAC programming.

SSIT SAC Outreach Ambassadors Meetup

On 26 June 2021 the newly onboarded SSIT SAC Outreach Ambassadors had their first meetup <welcome retreat>. The ambassadors were enthusiastic and reflective as they worked together to develop a comprehensive understanding of the Outreach Ambassador roles. They had a chance to engaged in several breakout room activities to get to know their co-ambassadors; the group was especially excited to celebrated the diversity of representatives!

Upcoming SAC Programming
In upcoming weeks and months, the SSIT SAC will be rolling out several new initiatives for geared towards increasing engagement levels from our students and student chapters:
1. A New Funding Program for Student Chapters
2. Student Essay Contest for Undergraduate Students
3. Phase-2 Volunteering Call for SSIT SAC Outreach Ambassadors Program

Call for Volunteers
The Student Activities Committee has a number of vacancies. We are seeking proactive members to serve on the committee. Please see the complete structure of the committee, open roles and responsibilities here.

For expressions of interest to serve on the committee, or for other inquiries please email the SAC Chair, Saiteja Goud K

To learn more about the SSIT SAC, click here.

Call for New Content: SSIT Website and IEEE.tv Channel
Thank you to the SSIT Members and Chapters who have responded to date to the invitation to contribute content for publication on the SSIT website. We look forward to receiving regular contributions. Please send articles, event notifications and other relevant content including pictures to Miriam Cunningham, SSIT Web Committee Chair.

SSIT Chapters, Distinguished Lecturers and SSIT supported Events are invited to provide Miriam Cunningham with recordings of Guest Lectures and other relevant content linked with SSIT’s Technical areas and field of interest for publication in the SSIT Society Channel on IEEE.tv. Please send a link by email to download the .mp4 file, include SSIT branding in the recording, and ensure that you have written permission from the speaker to publish it.
Call for Expressions of Interest to Host SSIT Conferences
IEEE SSIT organizes, co-organizes, and sponsors conferences focused on technology, society and ethics. IEEE SSIT is seeking expressions of interest from SSIT members interested in hosting the following conferences around the world.

IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS)
IEEE ISTAS is the annual flagship event of the IEEE Society on the Social Implications of Technology (SSIT). It is organized each year by SSIT in cooperation with SSIT Chapters and IEEE Sections. IEEE ISTAS brings together a broad range of disciplines (e.g., natural and social sciences, policy, ethics and education) to share research and experiences about the implications of technology adoption, adaptation and evolution.

SSIT is looking toward future ISTAS two to four years from now to allow planning and continuity between annual events. We are issuing a call for proposals for volunteers as organizers of ISTAS in 2023, 2024, and beyond.

IEEE Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century (21CW)
The 21CW conference series addresses the technical, social and personal legacy of the founder of cybernetics, control theory, and information ethics, Norbert Wiener. It has been held in Boston (2014), Melbourne (2016), with satellite activities in India 2014, 2016, 2018. The next 21CW conference will take place from 22-25 July 2021 in Chennai, India.

Expressions of interest are welcome for 2023.

If you are interested in hosting one of these events, please contact SSIT Conferences Chair, Jay Pearlman ( [email protected]) to request SSIT’s Call for Proposals Guide, which provides:
  • Guidance for conference organization and operations
  • An overview of expectations for proposal content
  • Background on ISTAS conference (including a list of recent events)
  • A proposal template
Call for Nominations: IEEE SSIT Awards
IEEE SSIT has three major awards, all of which are open for nomination at this time.

The Carl Barus Award for Outstanding Service in the Public Interest is open to anyone, or group, who performs an important public service, possibly at the risk of career or reputation. This includes anyone, whether or not in the engineering profession, or a member of IEEE. Further information on recipients can be found at https://technologyandsociety.org/member-resources/awards-programs/barus-award-recipients/.

The Brian M. O’Connell SSIT Distinguished Service Award is for SSIT volunteers who have demonstrated outstanding service for the benefit of SSIT. More information on this award can be found at

The SSIT Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional Responsibility is given to an individual or team for exceptional contribution, or outstanding career contribution in the field of the social implications of technology. Further information can be found at

To nominate an individual, submit information to Michael Cardinale. Include the individual’s contact information – name, address, phone, email, professional history (year, organization and position), and the proposed citation in 25 words or less. The nominator must also submit their own contact information.
IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society
The IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society publishes four issues each year (March, June, September, and December), and submissions are accepted on a rolling basis.

The editorial team seeks research papers on the interactions among technology, science, and society; on the impact of such interactions on individuals and society; and on the ethical, professional and social responsibility in the practice of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Find out more about the publication’s scope, topics, and article submission guidelines here, and be sure to visit the Transactions section of the SSIT website to read about current and past issues.

Note that submissions for a SPECIAL ISSUE on the topic:
After COVID-19: Crises, Ethics, and Socio-Technical Change,” will be accepted until 1 December 2021. The issue is slated for May 2022 publication (Details available HERE), and confirmed guest editors are:
  • Rafael A. Calvo, Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College London
  • Sebastian Deterding, Digital Creativity Labs, University of York
  • Catherine Flick, Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, De Montfort University
  • Christoph Luetge, Institute for Ethics in AI, Technical University of Munich (TUM)
  • Alison Powell, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Jack Stilgoe, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London
  • Karina Vold, Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto & University of Cambridge
For expressions of interest to serve on the editorial board as an ongoing reviewer or associate editor, or for other inquiries please email founding editor-in-chief Katina Michael.
CFP : Flux Special Themed Issue
Submitted by Joel A. Tarr
Off-grid technologies in the history of urban services (18th-20th centuries): a reappraisal

We invite the submission of unpublished and original papers for a special themed issue of the journal Flux that examines the history of non-networked technologies, their role in the supply of urban services (e.g., energy, street lighting water supply, wastewater treatment, food supply…) and their relations to networked systems between the 18th and the 20th centuries. Papers could explore the role of non-networked technologies and their relation to the emergence of networked technologies in cities in Europe and North America where networked technologies became dominant during that period.

Privileging a reflective historical approach, contributions will seek to reconstitute the course of diffusion or retraction of off-grid technologies, and their interactions with the development of large technical systems, which is often presented as a coherent and uniform, even hegemonic, process. They may emphasize the inertia (momentum) and the social, technological and/or territorial path dependencies at play; the forms of competition or complementarity and sometimes even symbiosis between networked and off-grid technologies the sociotechnical and urban imaginaries underpinning the observed dynamics; etc.

More generally, this themed issue will seek to add historical depth and a long-term perspective to the work of urban scholars (geographers, planners, architects, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists…) who have sought to explore, conceptualize and at times anticipate the variegated figures and shapes of the post-networked city. Those researchers have questioned the dominant model—the modern integrated paradigm of the networked city—by confronting the ideal figure of the homogenous and homogenizing infrastructure to the diverse models of organization, management and servicing of urban spaces that accompany, often facilitate and sometimes indurate socio-spatially differentiated forms of urban development.

What were the historical conditions, modalities and spaces of deployment of off-grid devices? Did these technologies generate or facilitate forms of competition between spaces within given urban areas? Did they help maintain pre-existing socio-spatial differentiations? Did organizations in charge of networked and off-grid technologies systematically compete or did they develop links – industrial, commercial, technological, financial, territorial or otherwise? And from a more future-oriented perspective: can Western and other long-industrialized societies emancipate from a historical heritage characterized by the sociotechnical imaginary of the network, and if so, how? Can they at least deal with its material, social and political ubiquity?

Flux therefore welcomes submissions to an "alternative history" of urban services (the essential services of everyday life) through the study of the trajectory of off-grid technologies and devices. As with the recent historiography challenging the notion of linear energy transitions, contributions may help question the validity of periodizations based on successive dominant sociotechnical systems and underestimating the importance of “alternative” technologies for the societies concerned.

Deadline for submission of proposals: 1 October 2021

Proposals may be submitted in English or French.
Proposals should be sent to:
Professors Benjamin Bothereau, Olivier Coutard, and Joel Tarr
Virtual Tech Forum: Mitigating Societal Harms in a Social Media World

Virtual Event | 21-22 September 2021
Among the defining issues of our time is the fast-paced development of innovative computing technologies that constitute truly societal-scale social media systems, and the equally large-scale impacts – good and bad – that those systems have on day-to-day life.

The IEEE Computer Society’s new Tech Forum on Mitigating Societal Harms in a Social Media World brings together policymakers and technologists to explore the intersection of current technical efforts and public policies and the resulting impacts to society. This event focuses on elemental contributors to societal harm that can be amplified by social media – Hate Speech, Terrorism/Radicalization/Exploitation, Misinformation, and Disinformation – by delivering insights from experts working in policy, technical standards, and cutting-edge solutions built on promising technologies such as AI and machine learning.

Passes are complimentary for a limited time only.
We Robot 2021 (Robotics Law and Policy Conference)

Coral Gables, Florida
  | 23-25 September 2021
The 10th annual robotics law and policy conference—We Robot 2021—will be held at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, USA, on 23-25 September 2021. Currently, plans are for an in-person event with a virtual option, but this may change subject to circumstances. Previously, the conference has been held at the University of Miami, University of Washington, Stanford, Yale, and the University of Ottawa.

This conference will build on a growing body of scholarship exploring how the increasing sophistication and autonomous decision-making capabilities of robots and their widespread deployment everywhere from the home, to hospitals, to public spaces, to the battlefield, disrupts existing legal regimes or requires rethinking policy issues.

Note that although the call for papers deadline has passed, the call for posters remains open until 1 June 2021. Poster acceptances may be offered on a rolling basis (i.e. it may be beneficial to submit earlier). Here is a link to the PDF version of the We Robot 2021 – Call For Papers, Demonstrations & Posters.

The conference organizers anticipate waiving conference fees, paying reasonable round-trip coach airfare, and providing two nights hotel accommodation for one presenter per paper and for all discussants. They will waive all conference fees for all other authors and for poster presenters; they are currently exploring scholarship opportunities to help students cover the costs of attendance.

Follow the link below to visit the We Robot 2021 conference website for more information.

Virtual Event
  | 19-23 October 2021
IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (IEEE GHTC 2021) is an annual flagship international conference sharing practical technology-enabled solutions supporting achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) by addressing the needs of underserved communities in resource constrained environments around the world. The 11th GHTC will take place as a virtual event from 19 - 23 October.

Thematic areas include:
  • Affordable & Clean Energy (SDG7)
  • Agriculture & Food Security (SDG2)
  • Clean Water & Sanitation (SDG6)
  • Connectivity & Communication in Support of Development
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG8)
  • Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness, Response & Recovery: Disaster Planning and Preparedness
  • Good Health and Well Being (SDG3)
  • Quality Education (SDG4)
  • Other Related United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (e.g. SDGs 9, 11, 12, 14).
  • Technology Impacts on Societal Evolution

IEEE GHTC 2021 is Sponsored by IEEE Region 6, IEEE Seattle Section and IEEE SSIT, with Technical Co-Sponsorship by IEEE-USA, IEEE PELS, and (expected) IEEE CTS, IEEE EMBS, IEEE MTT, IEEE PES, and IEEE Smart Village Initiative.

2021 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS21): Technological Stewardship and Responsible Innovation

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (Virtual Event)
  | 28-31 October 2021
The IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS) is the flagship conference of the IEEE’s Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT). ISTAS is a multi/inter/trans‐disciplinary forum for engineers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, philosophers, researchers, social scientists, technologists, and polymaths to collaborate, exchange experiences, and discuss the social implications of technology.

Hosted by the University of Waterloo and University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada), ISTAS21 runs from 28-31 October, and will take place as a virtual event.

The ISTAS21 theme, "Technological Stewardship & Responsible Innovation," invites participation from academics and practitioners who are engaged in current debates about the status, future, and significance of technology in today’s society, and who are interested in topics related to ethics, sustainability, equity, and social values within the tech industry. The conference seeks to foster trans-disciplinary and cross-sector conversations about how technological innovation can embrace and build from principles related to "stewardship" and "responsibility," broadly conceived.

Five keynotes and twenty special sessions will be part of the conference program.

Register by 15 September 2021 to take advantage of early rates!

The inaugural SSIT Student Essay Contest is being run in conjunction with ISTAS21; submissions are due 31 August 2021.

Be sure to visit the ISTAS21 website for additional details about the Call for Papers, submission deadlines, speakers, registration, sponsorship/patronage opportunities, and more.
IEEE International Humanitarian Technologies Conference (IHTC) 2021: Secondary Call for Papers (30 September)

Virtual Event | 
2-4 December 2021
The IEEE International Humanitarian Technology Conference (IHTC) is a Multi-Regional Conference Series rotating between R7 (Canada), R8 (Africa, Europe and Middle East), and R9 (Latin America and Caribbean).

Established in R7 where previous editions took place in 2014 and 2017, IEEE IHTC 2021 takes place in R8 as a Virtual Conference from 2-4 December 2021, organized by Volunteers from IEEE UK and Ireland Section ( UK and Ireland SIGHT), UK and Ireland SSIT Chapter, SSIT IST-Africa SIGHT as well as Region 8, Region 7, Region 9 and UK and Ireland SMC and Systems Council Chapters.

This interdisciplinary conference series focuses on showcasing challenges, success stories, lessons learned, case studies, and technological innovation related to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ICT4D and the application of Humanitarian Technologies (including Disaster Relief and Disaster Recovery) and facilitating engagement stakeholders from the public, private, education and research and societal sectors around the world. We place a particular emphasis on facilitating participation by key stakeholder groups from low and lower-middle-income countries as well as low resource communities.

IHTC 2021 has issued a Secondary Call for Oral Presentations, Short Paper Presentations and Full Paper Presentations by 30 September.

Submissions are invited for Oral Presentation Only, Short Paper Presentation (early stage) or Full Paper Presentation (mature results) to facilitate the diversity of stakeholders who wish to contribute and have valuable experiences and perspectives to share. Submissions will be assessed for quality, relevance and potential or actual impact. Presenters and delegates alike will enjoy the opportunity to share insights and build relationships with like-minded individuals, organizations and stakeholder groups around the world.

Call For Paper Details Here.