IEEE SSIT Standards Committee
Lively and productive discussions are well underway within the IEEE and elsewhere, about how technology will impact every one of us and every aspect of our personal, social and professional lives. These discussions are taking place across the globe and across all fields — not only to consider the “what” and “how” of technology’s impact – but also to consider what we will ask of each other, our governments and organizations like the IEEE in order to accelerate the anticipated benefits of these technologies, while containing their costs and potential harms. In short, the Standards Committee is taking on the question of where and how we might deploy standards in service of the thoughtful adoption of technologies that are bound to impact individual lives, governments and societies.
The IEEE/SSIT Standards Committee is a natural home for these discussions and eventually, a place to render engineering and social standards that are available for deployment by the broader community. Standards developed in this Committee will go beyond technical issues to account for the social interests and norms that will enable productive and predictable functioning of technology that upholds core human and ethical values.
Advancing Technology for the Benefit of Humanity requires understanding the connection between technology and society. The Society on Social Implications of Technology is where those connections get made. In September 2017, SSIT became a Standards Sponsor. SSIT will be developing standards to help guide stakeholders through the complex interactions of technology development and deployment with society, in order to ensure that we all benefit from technology.
SSIT focuses on five major areas:
· Sustainable Development & Humanitarian Technology
· Ethics, Human Values and Technology
· Technology Benefits for All
· Future Societal Impact of Technology Advances
· Protecting the Planet & Sustainable Technology
The technologies we are developing today – particularly in AI, robotics and genetic engineering – promise breathtaking advances in human capability and productivity, as well as the risk of out-of-control, accelerated harms, unintended consequences and concerning openings for mischief and bad actors. Many of the opportunities and risks presented are similar to those we balanced in adopting earlier breakthroughs. Think fire, engineered agriculture, the combustible engine, nuclear energy, the Internet. Except that now, these new technologies do not afford us a millennia or even decades over which to learn how to manage them. Moreover, these new technologies will also raise some entirely new questions that will require entirely new ways of thinking. New standards will need to account for all of these possibilities, whether in the form of norms, engineering standards, industry rules, regulations or legislation.
The Standards Committee is dedicated to exploring how appropriate standards develop, where they are needed and how best to enforce them. We are a multi-stakeholder group that brings together engineers of all types, academics, lawyers and advisors. We are identifying areas where standards will advance the responsible adoption of technologies that are already or are likely to impact society in direct and predictable ways.
Standards are about helping others to develop and deploy technologies in a way that benefits humanity and minimizes the risks. Currently, we have projects on News Trustworthiness, Privacy, and Bias in Facial Recognition Algorithms. Please come and join us. Get involved in our activities. Propose a topic that needs a standard. Help us to ensure that technologies are created and advanced for the benefit of humanity.
Beth-Anne Schuelke-Leech, Chair of the IEEE SSIT SC, firstname.lastname@example.org
Christy Bahn, Program Manager, email@example.com