Minutes of the meeting of the Board of Governors (BOG)

of the
IEEE Society on the social Implications of Technology (SSIT)

at Mudd Engineering Center of Columbia University, New York City
September 11, 2004

1.   Welcome and Introductions

The meeting was called to order at 10:30 PM. President O'Connell welcomed the attendees. Attendees introduced themselves. A moment of silence was observed.

2.   Adoption of Agenda

The agenda of the meeting was approved with minor changes.

3.   Approval of Previous Minutes

The minutes of the previous meeting (June 19, 2004) were corrected and approved.

4.   President's Report (Brian O'Connell)

(a)   Membership

Membership is increasing. SSIT is the only division 6 society that has increased its membership. Most societies are seeing membership declines. The relevance of SSIT is becoming more clear to IEEE as a whole. IEEE asks societies to participate in various activities, but expects the societies to pay for participation. Small societies are hurt by this. Some societies have industrial support that pay for these things.

(b)   IEEE New Technology Committee

This committee looks at new technologies and how IEEE can use them. An example is nanotechnology.

(c)  IEEE Sections Conference

This conference is held every three years. The next meeting is in Tampa, October 14-17, 2005 (see their site). The focus is on chapters and regional activities. Should SSIT participate? We could nominate a speaker to represent us. There is a gulf between sections and regional societies. Delegates to the conference represents sections World wide. The product of the meeting is a document that says what priorities IEEE should have for the next several years. Joe Herkert has attended in the past and says that it has been a good meeting, with discussions of social issues and ethics, although these did not end up in the final document. Electronic voting is something we might bring to the meeting. Bob Brook is on the IEEE 1583 Standards Committee that is drafting a national standard for voting machines. SSIT could offer a speaker to discuss SSIT and/or voting machines. Other countries have gone over to electronic voting, so this topic is of international interest.

The consensus of the BOG is that SSIT should participate in this conference.

(d)   Collaborations

The National Institute for Engineering Ethics is interested in working with SSIT on several issues. Michael Loui is on their Executive Board. They produced the video Incident at Morales, a video designed for educational purposes which features a fictional case that highlights issues in engineering ethics.

The International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) is mostly a European organization and includes IEEE. Jerry Engel works with some of their groups; Brian O'Connell is a member of a Special Interest Group on professional codes and has been sending them quarterly reports. Possibly IFIP could be used to increase our international membership.

The IEEE Product Safety Engineering Society had their first annual symposium August 13-15 in Santa Clara, California. SSIT was a technical co-sponsor of this symposium. Joe Herkert and Brian O'Connell gave a presentation of ethics and product safety. They met many people and made many connections. Copies of T&S Magazine were distributed. Mark Montrose passes on his thanks to us for participating in this conference. We may collaborate with them with future ISTAS meetings.

Ken Foster and Swami Laxminarayan are working to get SSIT more involved with the International Federation of Medical and Bioengineering (IFMBE). IFMBE may have a future conference in Washington, DC.

(e)   National Institute for Engineering Ethics

The National Institute for Engineering Ethics is interested in working with SSIT on several issues. Michael Loui (SSIT BOG) is on their Executive Board. They have various educational activities.

5.   Past President's Report (Clint Andrews)

(a)   Technical Activities Board (TAB)

There were lots of little decisions. The Intelligent Transportation Council was turned into a society. The Computer Aided Design Council was created. Previously it was parts of Circuits and Systems. The All Societies Periodicals Package allocation algorithm continues to be tinkered with. The latest changes allow periodicals more flexibility with overshooting their page count target. The timeliness of publication is enforced. The allocation of revenue from electronic publication is changing. There is a two year phase-in of the current scheme. The base is 15% of total revenue is allocated to all societies. Then 35% of revenue is allocated based on contributions of PDFs. Finally, 50% depends on the number of hits from institutional subscribers a society's pages get. The allocation scheme for paper publication has not been changed. But funds from electronic publishing are increasing, and funds from print publication are decreasing. Right now they are close to equally divided, but in the future electronic publishing will dominate.

Mike Adler, a past president of IEEE, gave a presentation addressing the problem that engineering is not an attractive profession for children. They don't learn enough math and science. This is a long term trend that needs to be reversed. IEEE should be involved with K/12 education efforts to foster math and science literacy. A proposed way to do this is to sponsor a Disney World exhibit that promotes engineering. Sponsorship would cost about $9M. TAB discussed this proposal, and later the IEEE BOG approved the idea, but with the provision that $6M would be raised from external sources. Clint Andrews posted a critique of this idea to the TAB listserve. There was also a proposal to send IEEE Spectrum to high school libraries.

(b)  Presentation to the Japanese Chapter

Clint Andrews was invited to give a lecture to the Japan chapter of SSIT in June. The BOG previously (Jan 24, 2004) authorized $500 for Clint Andrews to add Japan to the itinerary of his trip to China. The Japanese chapter covered some expenses. There was a whole afternoon of events at Kyoto, with attendees from many other cities. In addition to the lecture there was a panel discussion were various professors spoke about various social issues. The event galvanized this society and was not very expensive.

(c)  Hydrogen Economy

The Hydrogen Economy conference helped us find strategic partners. IEEE Institute had a column on this conference. Half the column was on SSIT.

6.   Treasurer's Report (Karl Stephan)

(See attachment.) Our finances are steady, possibly a little behind. The six month free membership offer has had a positive effect; we are gaining members. Not all new members renew, only about 30%. Expenses are slightly ahead of their projected value; income from periodicals is behind. There will be no surplus from this year's conference. There is much activity at the end of the year. Middle of the year balance sheets are not very informative. The person at IEEE that was our contact for this has quit his position, so some details have not been entered. We have a small increase in dues, which will show up next year.

7.   Publications Report (Michael Loui)

(See attachment.) There are two special issues per year, one including papers from ISTAS and another on a special topic. This year's special issues are for ISTAS'03 and and issue on nanotechnology. The electronic newsletter is quarterly. The next one will be at the end of September.

The Web site needs help. It needs a more modern design, dynamic content, and continuous maintenance. Responses in the membership survey often suggested improvements to the site. It is our front gate to the members and others. Perhaps we should pay someone to do this, or find a graduate student to help. There should be links between the virtual community and the publicly available Web site.

8.   Conference Reports

(a) ISTAS 2004 (Schacterle)

Extra copies of the proceedings CD are available. The conference ran a $6,257 deficit. Possible reasons for this include conflict with ASEE, which started the following Monday after our conference. This likely affected attendance. Cosponsors posted announcements on their Web sites, but covered no expenses, and few of their members attended. Planning was based on the 2002 conference results, but this may not have been appropriate. There was no way of knowing how popular the conference would be. The paid registration was only 50, 2/3 of them IEEE members. Conferences in the humanities and in education have much lower registration fees.

Another problem was 14 students from Ghana who seem to have used the conference as an excuse to get into the country. Their credit cards did not work. Some of these students unexpectedly showed up, but soon left. In the future, conference organizers should be cautious about such situations and be careful not to e-mail such applicants anything that could be taken as a special invitation. There are bogus educational institutions set up in Ghana just for the purpose of obtaining visas. IEEE staff have sample letters that are carefully worded for this situation.

The first hint that the projected number of 125 attendees was not going to be reached was in late 2003 when few papers were being submitted. Work was done to advertise the conference and make it more attractive, but with little effect. There was thought of canceling the conference, but we went ahead with a scaled back conference.

Advice to future conference organizers: (i) avoid conflict with the ASEE conference, (ii) keep conference fees more in line with humanities conferences, (iii) keep to traditional ISTAS themes, (iv) a detailed list should be made, outlining the events to be planned for, commitments and responsibilities.

The conference had a series of good papers. The plenary sessions were good. It was a very stimulating, but poorly attended, conference.

Motion: The BOG shall give Lance Schacterle and Rick Vaz an award of recognition for their work with ISTAS 2004. Approved.

(Discussion:) We should pitch this conference for a attendees with lower expense accounts. The MLA conference has a $95 registration fee, no proceedings, and 2000 papers. The Society for the History of Technology is closer to a humanities conference. Conferences should avoid fixed costs such as management and production, and proceedings. Food should be the attendees own responsibility. Conference organizers should not count on attendees from outside of IEEE.

(b) ISTAS 2005, Los Angeles, CA (O'Connell)

This will be held at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), Los Angeles, June 9 and 10. Brian O'Connell and Jerry Engel visited LMU. The campus is very nice and is seven minutes from Los Angelas airport. There are a number of very nice rooms that can be used for the conference. Philip Chmielewski is the Sir Thomas More professor of Engineering Ethics at LMU. He is working hard on this conference and is trying to reduce costs. The audio/visual facilities may be completely sponsored. There is a student help organization that can be used instead of paid registration staff. On campus housing may be possible at nominal cost.

The annual conference on Ethics and Social Responsibility in Engineering and Technology, co-sponsored by Loyola Marymount and Gonzaga University, is going on at the same time, so there may be opportunities for joint meetings, common activities, and joint advertising.

The Crime Prevention through Environmental Design organization is interested in doing something in this conference. They are the group that cosponsored ISTAS 2003. Their US headquarters is in New Haven, CT. The NIEE is also interested.

NY to LA is a low cost flight, sometimes cheaper than flying to the midwest. The call for papers has already gone out. The next SSIT BOG meeting (December 4, 2004) will be at LMU.

(c) ISTAS 2006 (O'Connell)

There are some possible venues, but this is still open.

(d) ISTAS 2007 Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. (O'Connell)

This is still tentative. Susan O'Donnell and the National Research Council (Canada) are working on this.

9.   Committee Reports

(a) Awards (Benjamin)

Dr. Kim Harvin has been proposed for the Barris Award. Dr. Harvin's job at the Salem Nuclear Power Plant in New Jersey was to promote the safety culture of the organization. She heard stories about serious problems with safety, investigated them, and brought her findings to the company, PSE&G. At all levels of the company her findings were met with disinterest, so she went to the NRC. The company fired her in July of 2003. Dr. Harvin has filed a wrongful termination suit against PSE&G. PSE&G then hired investigators to look into her concerns. These concerns were validated and additional ones were found. The NRC did things specifically because of Dr. Harvin's actions.

Mel Benjamin went over all of this material with Dr. Harvin and with Dave Lockbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists. We can also get evaluations from Duke Energy and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

A nomination package will be created and distributed by e-mail to the members of the BOG by November 22. A vote on this is scheduled for the December meeting. Additional material is available on our Virtual Community site.

(b) Fellows Committee (O'Connell)

Jerry Engel has resigned from the committee due to conflict of interest. Irv Engelson has be asked to chair the committee. SSIT members of any level are encouraged to nominate colleagues for Fellow grade. Only Fellow grade members can write letters of support (see attached)

(c) Membership (Brook)

See the Treasurer's Report for numbers. Our increasing membership is possibly due to the employment situation. Perhaps people are worried about jobs going overseas. The membership of women in IEEE has increased.

(d) Student Membership

Emily Anesta is our student representative to the BOG. She would like suggestions about what she can do.

Motion: Cover travel, lodging, and incidental expenses for Emily Anesta to the December 4, 2004 BOG meeting in Los Angelas. Passed.

(e) Membership Survey

A survey was conducted of people who did not renew their membership. The report is very detailed. See the virtual community for the full report. The main reasons that people do not renew are: (i) IEEE is slow in processing the six month free memberships, so those members don't see any benefit before their membership has already expired. (ii) The Web site is poor. (iii) The magazine is too thin. Some of what people want is general interest articles similar to what professional writers produce for magazines. But our style is more academic.

(f) Virtual Community (Andrews)

IEEE provides free virtual communitee space to societies. A virtual communitee consists of discussion threads, announcements, images, questions of the week, and other resources. SSIT has a virtual communitee which has been starting up. We need to let more people know about this and try to engage to overseas members. In the future, we might want to appoint someone to be a moderator. The Product Safety Engineering Society has a very active virtual community. We should look at having a preview of the community that people can look at before they join. Each article in T & S should end with a link to a place where it can be discussed. In the future, possibly only SSIT members should be allowed on the site.

Do we need a password-protected discussion area for the BOG? The sense of the group was yes.

(g) Chapters

The Boston chapter is still struggling to start up. There are people in that area that are interested. Missy Cumings is working on this.

The Toronto chapter is planning to give Walter Zessner a lifetime appreciation award at one of their meetings.

Motion: SSIT will give Walter Zessner a certificate of recognition. Passed.

Brian O'Connell will give the keynote talk at their meeting and present our award.

Motion: To pay travel and lodging expenses for Brain O'Connell when he goes to Toronto. Passed.

(h) Society Development Committee (Pfatteicher)

The committee has had a fairly detailed discussion. There were three areas of the discussion: membership, events, and publications. Specific reccommendations will be presented at the December meeting.

(i) Nominations Committee

Ballots will be mailed September 20. There are four candidates for three positions on the Board of Governors. Results will be announced November 8. The slate for the 2005 term for president and vice president of SSIT is Brian O'Connell and Karl Perusich. The consensus of the group is that we are comfortable with this selection. The secretary cast a single vote to approve the slate.

10.   Liaison Reports

Division 5 (Hoffnagle)

There has been a mood change at IEEE. It has gone through some financially lean years. The Executive Director took over more control than in the past, but now the IEEE BOG is regaining control. The executive committee will loose most of its powers. The Executive Director now will report to the BOG. Some decisions have been pushed down from the BOG to a more appropriate level. The Divisions have been realligned; each division will represent a theme. The Membership Development Committee is doing a great deal of work. Other committees also are busy. Every member of the TAB is automatically a member of the New Technologies Direction Committee. They have been discussion several new technologies and how IEEE should react. The voting system and basic structure of TAB may be changed, and new by-laws are in the works.

11.   Old Business

No old business.

12.   New Business

(a) Electronic Voting (Benjamin and Unger)

The issue of electronic voting is an important issue. There is danger of it not being done correctly. The issue quickly becomes very complicated. There are many security issues. Systems must be protected from worms, viruses, and hackers. There are problems with verification. This is theoretically an unsovable problem. We can't afford merely to take a voting machine producer's word for their product. A voting machine can't be a black box; there may be many embedded problems. The hardware and software of the machine must be open for independent inspection. There should be a backup system, perhaps paper, for recording votes. A Web site www.verifiedvoting.org documents some known cases of electronic voting failures.

(Discussion:) SSIT can't mount an independent effort on this, but we might help discussions of the issue. Perhaps there should be a session on electronic voting at the next ISTAS. Or we could put together a news conference where we present a well thought out statement. Maybe we could have a half-day conference on this? Steve Berger, a resident of Austin, TX, is president of the IEEE standards committee and might be a resource for this. IEEE has a position paper on electronic voiting. Possibly we could suggest someone for an interview on National Public Radio's Fresh Air.

Motion: Authorize Steve Berger or Bob Brook to appear on Fresh Air. Ask Brian O'Connell to contact Fresh Air about this. Passed.

(b) The National Institute for Engineering Ethics (Loui)

The National Institute for Engineering Ethics (NIEE) is best known for its production of videos. Once it was a membership society, but now it is a federation of societies. The previous video, Incident at Morales, video has no bad guys, but has many interesting ethical issues. They are looking for the topic of their next ethics video from the societies. The group was asked to suggest topics. Various topics were suggested. Possibly something biomedical. Or perhaps software related issues: safety critical systems, privacy, intellectual property or software quality issues.

13.   Next Meeting Data and Place

The next Board of Governor's meeting will be December 4, 2004 at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA. There is a possibility that this will be combined with a regional SSIT meeting.

14.   Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 3:30 PM.

Attendees at the September 11, 2004 Meeting

NAME AFFILIATION EMAIL (replace # with @)
Clint Andrews SSIT BOG c.j.andrews#ieee.org
Emily Anesta WPI student eanesta#wpi.edu
Mal Benjamin Awards jmbenjamin#aol.com
Terri Bookman T&S Managing Editor    t.bookman#ieee.org
Roberta Brody SSIT BOG roberta_brody#qc.edu
Bob Brook SSIT BOG rbrook#att.net
Ken Foster member kfoster#seas.upenn.edu
Joe Herkert Editor T&S joe_herkert#ncsu.edu
Gene Hoffnagle SSIT BOG g.f.hoffnagle#eng.umd.edu
Bradley Kjell Secretary kjell#ieee.org
Michael Loui SSIT BOG m-loui#uiuc.edu
Andrew U. Meyer Region 10, Control Soc. meyer#ujit.edu
Robert Newcomb CAS rep. newcomb#eng.umd.edu
Brian O'Connell Vice President oconnellb#ccsu.edu
Sarah Pfatteicher SSIT BOG spfatt#engr.wisc.edu
Lance Schacterle ISTAS 04 les#wpi.edu
Karl D. Stephan SSIT Treasurer kdstephan#txstate.edu
Steve Unger SSIT BOG. unger#cs.columbia.edu