Intellectual Property Protection

I’ve been appointed to the IEEE-USA Intellectual Property Committee (IPC) as the SSIT liaison. IEEE-USA is a U.S. specific portion of IEEE with a focus that includes legislative and legal issues — which of course tend to be jurisdiction/ nation-state specific. The IPC focuses on Intellectual Property (IP) issues and includes a number of patent lawyers and others who have expertise in this area. While “IP” includes copyright, trademarks, and even trade secret considerations, currently patents hold the focus for the group. The U.S. is considering revisions of its patent laws in the short term.

Rep Goodlatte HR3309 bill (approved by House, Senate approval is unlikely I’m told), S2049 put forward by Senators McCaskill & Rockefeller, and Senator Lehey’s S1720 bill are all topics of discussion within the group. (Specific US Congressional proposals can be found at the U.S. Library of Congress “Thomas” web site: — entering HR3309 or S1720 will lead you to those specific bills and also related bills.)

Concerns related to HR3309 were raised in a letter signed by a 2000+ of patent holders expressing concern that it might reduce innovation and protection for individual inventors. A (long) paper by Mark Lemley,  “The Myth of the Solo Inventor” (which does not disparage the existence of individual inventors, but does challenge some of our assumptions about the theory of patents) is broader discussion of some of the issues in the IP world. Finally there is an analysis of “patent troll” activity at: that provides fuel for the discussion on “transparency”– who is actually behind a given patent — either at the time of filing, or after some transfers of ownership and the time of enforcement actions.

All in all there are lots of difficult issues here.
Clearly there are companies who are acquiring patents and resources to enforce or at least threaten action related to these. Such actions may be totally “on target” (reflecting true violations that would be upheld in court) or may be “sufficiently threatening” (to force a company to license/ pay-up) rather than face the expense of defending their action in court (even if they are likely to win.) Who pays the legal expenses is a consideration here as is the simple question of can you afford to defend/ pursue your position? A recent discussion with an independent New Hampshire inventor surfaced the observation that ‘it isn’t worth filing a patent if you don’t have resources to enforce it.”

There are tensions between corporations that hold patents, vs individuals with patentable ideas (employees, or independent.) There are inventions whose “time has come”, resulting in multiple related filings (the Telephone patent by Bell is the classic example, it was closely related to a filing by Elisha Grey.) Is a given “innovation” sufficiently different to justify a patent? What is patentable? — consider software, or the color and shape of a pill (a “design patent”), a process, or a human gene (recently rejected by the US Supreme court.)

In any case, being part of the IPC discussions will be informative, and I hope the group can be influential for the benefit of professionals and the public. I will try to provide feedback though the SSIT newsletter and occasionally the Blog, to keep folks informed.  And, as always, encourage your comments and perspective.

What is the Value of being active in IEEE (SSIT, etc.)

This started as a subgroup discussion on Linked In, but it is relevant to all of our IEEE forums …. so please add your thoughts as well … no doubt your experience is different than mine…

1) Innovation — sure IEEE is the #1 source of publications cited in US Patents… but that is not the key point … interaction with folks outside of your normal (r.e. work) work environment is a key source of inspiration … my few published papers have focused on the data here. … Being involved in IEEE events, conferences, sections, standards, committees, etc. provides cross-functional dialog — TYPICALLY OUTSIDE of the meetings (hallways, lunches, breaks…) that trigger critical inspiration. IEEE is the ONLY professional society with a wide range of engineering disciplines — which is where the real problems and solutions emerge.

2) Problem Solving — not all problems require patentable solutions, but experience with that type of problem is most useful … so “who you gonna call” … how about that insightful young/old feller/lady who you met at that IEEE <your event goes here> who seemed to know about these things. Trust me that call will provide more insight than a week on the web … why? because it is interactive — and oddly because you are showing the value you place in that other person which is at the core of social capital … which is the key to a variety of problem solving challenges … see Bowling Alone” by Robert D. Putnam — social capital is the high value networking that can occur in many ways — perhaps even online.

3) Career advancement — sure, take the seminars, read the journals, check out the tutorials … did anyone every tell you it’s WHO YOU KNOW, not what you know? Well, they were right. If who you know values what you know then you could get a promotion, job offer, new career that way …. you know? 8/10 of my job changes were a direct result of the network I have though professional societies. I’m told by one HR VP that 75% of jobs are being filled by folks “in network”, not resumes, or job fairs. For most of my employers (industry) my IEEE roles were of significant value … but I was engaged making it that way (seeking out relevant roles where win-win-win — me, IEEE, employer– could benefit). The leadership, communications and team work skills you develop are directly transferable back into your career — and with less career-limiting-impact when you don’t get it quite right.

By the way — did you notice that to get these benefits you actually have to be engaged?
(The easy paths for getting involved include — volunteer to help with a conference, become active in your local chapter/section, help out with a group’s Blog or social media presence, join a standards committee relevant to your work, offer to help out with curriculum development or accreditation visits — most committees below the IEEE Board level have openings and opportunities.)

What is IEEE’s value proposition … Your Future — (and of course the future of the world made better via Technology) … but when you are listening to WII FM (what’s in it for me) remember … it is being active and engaged with your professional society (not just IEEE) that provides the aforementioned benefits.

ISTAS 2014 = ETHICS 2014 23-24 May, Chicago

2014 IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, and Technology: Ethics’2014

Ethics – A Challenge to the Scientific and Engineering Community

The first IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Science, Technology and Engineering, IEEE Ethics’2014 will be held in Chicago Marriott O’Hare, Chicago, IL, USA, on May 23-24, 2014.  This will also be the official ISTAS 2014 conference for IEEE SSIT.

With the evolution of science, technology and engineering, ethical problems often arise. Ethics and ethical conduct have become a critical issue in the 21st Century.

Scientists, technologists and engineers of all ages, students as well as senior professionals, encounter ethical challenges in their professional and personal lives. Often, an answer to such challenges arises from brainstorming sessions and intense discussions. Are ethics and morals the same? Are ethics and laws consistent? Could professional ethics in one discipline conflict with ethical conduct of another discipline? Should ethics be sacrificed for global “competitiveness”?

Furthermore, ethical conduct has global and cultural perspectives. Could unethical conduct in one culture be acceptable in another? What is the difference between ethics and codes of conduct? Are there principles that could be considered as valid through all cultures? Could we claim that the fundamental bases of ethics are independent of our origins?

With all these questions (and many others) in mind, we are delighted to announce that the first IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, Technology (IEEE Ethics 2014).

The IEEE Ethics 2014 Symposium aims to respond to the needs and aspirations of a rising global professional community and to promote highest standards of ethical conduct among its members.

The Symposium will offer a rich scientific program of highest quality with invited speakers from all over the world and intends to bring together scientists, engineers, ethicists and practitioners from different disciplines to discuss questions and concerns related to ethics in science, technology, and engineering. Issues will be explored both from a scientific point of view and from a social or individual aspect, including global, multicultural perspectives. The Symposium will enable participants to debate and reflect on issues facing scientists and engineers, and to address the importance of ethics in a diverse scientific and professional global community. Scientists, engineers and other professionals who have relevant experience to be shared are encouraged to participate in the Symposium which will provide a platform for exchange of views in three different formats: formal presentations, panel discussions, and small group discussions.

Workshops, tutorials, “Birds-of-a-Feather” provokquium panels and special invited sessions will be organized on stimulating topics. The Symposium will be accompanied by an exhibition.

The conference web site is:


SusTech 2014, July 24-26 Portland Oregon

The 2014 IEEE Conference on Technologies for Sustainability – Engineering and the Environment (SusTech). SusTech 2014 is sponsored by the IEEE Oregon SectionIEEE Region 6, IEEE SSIT and IEEE-USA.

Sustainability has been defined as: the pursuit of environmentally sound development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the future. [Source: UN Document A/42/427: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future, August 1987]

Conference web site:



Volume 12. Issue 1.Winter 2014

Editor: Deepak Mathur
Message from the President IEEE SSIT

This past year, 2013, was a busy year for me, and for SSIT. Some of this activity was highly visible. Our SSIT Facebook group hosted a contest to help design a new Society logo. We held one of the biggest ISTAS conferences ever in Toronto, and we approved three new SSIT chapters.

A great deal of activity wasn’t visible – it was preparation for activities to come in 2014 and beyond. This year, in addition to ISTAS being held as the IEEE Ethics 2014 conference, SSIT is co-sponsoring four other conferences all around the world. These, and other activities to come, are only possible because of the hard work behind the scenes by many SSIT volunteers. This year I have constantly been amazed at what our volunteers can do – people with other full time commitments who make time for SSIT because they believe, as I do, in our mission.

So the question now is, with the wind at our backs, where do we go from here? That’s a question we can only answer together. I’m looking forward to another great year of planning conferences, special events, and of course, Technology and Society Magazine. Do you have a great idea too? Contact us! You can find us at, or by searching for IEEE SSIT on Facebook.

Laura Jacob

2013 Board of Governors Meeting

Board of Governors meeting was held at room no. 107 Stamford, CT at the University of Connecticut Stamford branch campus Saturday 20 July, 2013 10:00am – 3:00pm. The meeting was presided over by President Laura Jacob. The complete minutes of the meeting will be soon available at , please visit this URL to find minutes of earlier BoG meetings also.

The SSIT Board of Governors (BoG) also met on 26 October, 2013, at 508 Skirkanich Hall, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. The minutes of these meeting will be publically available after final approval at the next SSIT BoG meeting.


ICDP 2013

5th International Conference on Imaging for Crime Prevention and Detection was held at Kingston University’s Penrhyn Road Campus, London, UK on 16-17 December 2013.

The Conference aimed to create an important networking forum in which participants can discuss the present and future of image-based technologies for crime detection and prevention.

For details, please visit:

Internet of Things (IOT)

The IEEE World Forum on Internet of Things 2014 will be held at the Seoul Olympic Parktel Hotel in Seoul, Korea on 6-8 March 2014.

This flagship conference will feature a comprehensive technical program including numerous sessions, tutorials, and an industrial exhibition. The program will feature prominent keynote speakers and vendor exhibits.

The theme of WF-IoT is to investigate how progress in technologies and applications of IoT can be nurtured and cultivated for the benefit of society.

Important dates:

15 January 2014: Papers – Camera-ready Submissions Due
22 January 2014: Author Registration Deadline
31 January 2014: Final Tutorial Material Due
6 February 2014: Participant Panel Call for Presentations Deadline
7 February 2014: Early Registration Due

For details, please visit:

SIPC ’14

The Third IEEE International Workshop on the Social Implications of Pervasive Computing for Sustainable Living (SIPC ’14) being organized in conjunction with the Twelfth IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications – PerCom 2014 (http//

The conference will be held at Budapest, Hungary on 24-28 March 2014.

The workshop aims to discuss the social implications of pervasive technology used to support or facilitate a number of multi-disciplinary areas for sustainable living.

Potential workshop attendees are invited to submit papers of up to 6 pages that address at least one relevant social implication of pervasive computing and discuss how researchers can influence the direction of development. The papers will be peer-reviewed by at least two members of the program committee, and chosen according to their relevance to the scope of the workshop, the quality and originality of the submission, and their ability to stimulate and balance discussions.

The organizers will try to consider as many submissions as possible to help assemble a large community of researchers interested in the social challenges of pervasive computing. Papers will be included and indexed in the IEEE digital libraries (Xplore), showing their affiliation with IEEE PerCom.

For details, please visit:


2014 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS) and 2014 IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, and Technology, Ethics’2014 will be held on May 23-24, 2014 at Chicago Marriott O’Hare, Chicago, IL, USA. The theme is ‘Ethics – A Challenge to the Scientific and Engineering Community’.

ISTAS `14 and the IEEE Ethics 2014 Symposium aim to respond to the needs and aspirations of a rising global professional community and to promote highest standards of ethical conduct among its members.

For details, please visit thesite at:

IEEE Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century creating a real buzz
With just under six months to go until the inaugural IEEE Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century, 24-26 June 2014, we are starting to get some pretty special responses:

A short video about the conference received 130 view in its first three days on YouTube:

IEEE Fellow Prof Iven Mareels, Dean of Engineering at the University of Melbourne, has provided an excellent video on the importance of Wiener’s work today, especially to neural engineering, which should be posted by the time this newsletter is released. 18 people have already put their names down to attend from Melbourne, Australia.

Our five keynotes are reminiscent of the breadth of the Macy Conferences that were so important to developing Wiener’s ideas: a sociologist, a cryptographer, a cultural anthropologist, an aeronautical engineer, and a specialist in fuzzy logic, all renowned in their fields. Details at

The web site has now gathered a huge amount of information, and is a “must see”.

One early paper proposal looks at cybernetics and Ezra Pound, and promises to describe the link between Wiener and poetry, hinted by his friendship with TS Eliot

Dozens of volunteers are working on making this a very special conference.

Norbert Wiener epitomizes the themes of SSIT, which is one reason that we are sponsoring the conference, along with the Boston Section, Control System Society, and Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society, plus eight other technical sponsors.

Greg Adamson, SSIT Vice-President

SSIT Report – Australia Wide

•           ISTAS 2012 IEEE International Conference onTechnology and Society in Asia 2012:– While this conference occurred in 2012, there was still further work to be completed post conference. SSIT held conference wrap up discussion in early 2012 and made notes of any lessons learnt. In addition, members from SSIT organised a special issue in the Technology and Society Magazine based on publications from the conference (Issue 3 Fall 2013)
•           ISTAS 2013 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society: on themes of smart and wearable technologies, was held June 27-29, 2013, in Toronto, Canada. Held at the University of Toronto campus, this year’s ISTAS was one of the best-attended SSIT conferences ever. Organizers were Steve Mann, General Chair, and Katina Michael (from SSIT Australia), Program Chair.
•           Norbert Weiner in the 21st Century 2014: – Norbert Wiener made contributions across several disciplines during his lifetime. Many of these were immediately relevant, and influenced theories and production during his day. Others were long-term, and only in recent years has it been possible to test their relevance. For example, Wiener’s most cited work published 75 years ago in October is on Polynomial Chaos Expansion. This has gained popularity in the past decade, due to the growing capacity of modern computers to implement his approach.2013 was consumed by many of the Australia SSIT committee, several of whom are playing leading roles in conference planning. The conference continues to gain momentum with a fantastic conference site, and regular social networking updates
SAF05 Workshop
•           SSIT Australia was invited to hold a workshop providing input into an Australian Government policy report, Securing Australia’s Future, section 5: “New Technologies and their role in our security, culture, democratic, social and economic systems”.SSIT participated via a roundtable on the 3rd of August, chaired by Dr Greg Adamson for SSIT and NITCA head Prof Rob Evans for the project. Attendees were Assoc. Prof Katina Michael, Technology & Society editor; Dr Lyria Bennett Moses, UNSW (Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre); Dr Martin Gibbs, UMelb CIS; Dr Michael Arnold, UMelb History and Philosophy of Science; Adj Prof Phillip Hall, UWA (technology and climate variability); Adj Prof Marcus Wigan, UMelb (transport policy); Mary Hawkins, former ANZ Head of Technology Sustainability; Rick Noble, NGO IT services specialist; Sophie McKenzie, Deakin (games usage); Paul Siemers, Melbourne Water (technology infrastructure); Dr Greg Adamson, Vice-President IEEE SSIT; ReihanaMohideen, University of Melbourne; Jana Paripovich, media specialist; Dr Jan Newmarch, software specialist; John Lewis, KPMG; Prof Rob Evans, UMelb, SAF05 Expert Working Group Chair; Dr ChelleNicRaghnaill, SAF05 Principle Researcher; Dana Sanchez, SAF05 Project Manager;            Rebecca Skinner, ACOLA Project Manager. Details about the SAF report can be found at
Technical Meetings
•           Joint talk between IEEE CS and SSIT – Dr AndreOboler and Dr Lito P Cruz presented at Deakin on “The Problem with Big Data”. Friday the 5th of April at 1pm. Event pipelined between the two Deakin campuses.
•           SSIT Technical session in Melbourne on Thursday 1st of Aug 2013.Phil Hall presented on “Water Quality Management: The Case for Real Time Monitoring & Reporting”. Held at University of Melbourne.
•           SSIT Technical Workshop in Melbourne on Thursday the 5th of December on “3D Printing: Social and Cultural Trajectories”. This event organised by Angela Daly is sponsored by Swinburne University with the support of IEEE SSIT and occurred from 8:30am – 5:00pm at Swinburne University, Hawthorn Campus.
•           SSIT Technical session in Sydney on Monday the 2nd of September, presented by Greg Adamson. The topic was: ‘Reintroducing Norbert Wiener, inventor of cybernetics’. Great attendance with many names added to the SSIT mailing list, and thanks to KPMG for providing the venue.
•           The ‘Social Interface’ blog continues, thanks to the work of Sarah Lux and Lyria Bennett-Moses –
•           NSW– Dinner on 22nd of June 2013 for Sydney Volunteers
•           Annual end of year dinner – Planned for Melbourne in Dec 2013

Sophie McKenzie, Secretary, SSIT Australia

Activities on Social Implications of Technology by IEEE Córdoba Subsection
“Any technology that has existed, exists or will exist, has some impact over the social field, both in comfort, health, education, environment, behavior, habits or communications, to list a few. The study and discussion of this influence over society is not unique a technologists field, but involves varied disciplines, from sociology to law, psychology and medicine, philosophy and information science, and of course all technologies”.

Summary – Organized by IEEE Córdoba Subsection, on Wednesday 20th, November, was carried out the first activity related to the Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT), with the objective of show to all community activities related to this Society, and open a chapter in Argentina Section at the short term.

The activity, panel format, had the participation of five members of the SSIT as speakers, and more than 30 attendees, including people linked to the Social Sciences and other areas not related to engineering. The event also attended Eng. Roberto Terzariol, Dean of the Faculty of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences – National University of Cordoba (FCEFyN – UNC), Argentina.

From a long time ago was in IEEE Córdoba Subsection, and particularly the at the idea of Eng. Ricardo Taborda (past president of IEEE Argentina Section), the intention of organizing activities that go beyond the engineering field, linking and relating to other branches unrelated the hard sciences. For these reason emerged the idea to perform some activity that links other areas, and the Society on Social Implications of Technology, transverse all careers and professions, it was a good opportunity to do it.

Thus, not only was performing an activity of general interest, but also was promoting the creation of a SSIT Chapter at IEEE Argentina Section, which is already launch to be created.


At this case, the activity consisted of five lectures and a panel with five volunteers of IEEE Córdoba Subsection, all members of IEEE and the SSIT.

The first activity was carried out by Eng. Ricardo Taborda, the main organizer of the activity. In his dissertation, Eng Taborda explained briefly about the SSIT Society and what is the idea of opening a Chapter of this Society in Argentina Section, as well as its advantages and future goals.

After that, there was time for a small intervention of Eng. Roberto Terzariol, Dean of FCEFyN – UNC, who highlighted the value of such events at the University, and its benefits to society.

The second lecture, titled “Has connection between recycling of WEEE, the environment and the digital gap?”, was given by Eng. Laura Reyna, who explained about WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) and some activities that are underway in Cordoba aimed at solve this problem.

The following lecture was given by Eng. Diego Beltramone, who in his dissertation on “Rehabilitation Engineering: providing accessibility for all” showed some problems that arise in society to people with certain types of disabilities, and some actions that are being implemented to solve them, as well as some activities that are being developed at the University aimed at solving these problems.

The fourth lecture, led by Eng. Ronald Del Aguila, called “In case of medical emergency,  technology help us or complicated us? The case of ground ambulance” focused on show to attendees about safety that should have ambulances and standards that should be met to avoid accidents such as occurred in 2006 .

The fifth and final lecture, titled “Technology and Society”, was conducted by Eng. Susana Drudi, and was focused on the proposition of the conceptions of technology and the implications they have on the actions of technologists, decision makers and users.


To close the activity, a panel with five speakers was carried out, where speakers discussed with the audience over the issues raised in the lectures, as well as the audience was invited to propose activities to pursue in the future. It is very important to highlight the variety of public attendees at the event, allowing to project a lot activities for next year, trying very different topics, but very interesting.

Please contact Eng. Ricardo Taborda to know more about activities related to SSIT of Argentina Section.

Ricardo Taborda, SSIT Chapter Organizer,
Augusto José Herrera, IEEE Córdoba Subsection President,

SSIT Chapter in Kerala Section

The Society for Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) chapter of IEEE Kerala Section was formally launched with an inaugural function arranged at Hotel S.P. Grand Days, Thiruvananthapuram on 7 December 2013. The event witnessed a large gathering, including guests from Bombay and Hyderabad Sections, SSIT members of Kerala Section, Executive Committee members of the section and subsections, and Sister Professional Society members. The event included a strategy session by SSIT members followed by the formal meeting, which included a Panel discussion on the topic “The Society-Technology Interface: Emerging Challenges for Humanity”.

Mr. Satish Babu, Interim Chair SSIT Kerala Section Chapter presented a brief overview of the activities of SSIT. He emphasized on the appropriateness of SSIT in sensitizing engineers and educating the public to address issues from an ethical perspective.

Mr. Srinivasan Ravindran, Chair, IEEE, Kerala Section highlighted the significance of increased awareness on Ethics Education in society so as to make the user community vigilant in discerning between the positive and negative aspects of technology.

Mr Anthony Lobo delivered a talk on the topic “Technology and Society”. He opined that any technological innovation should consider and analyze the three aspects namely ‘Intent’,’ Implications’ and ‘Impact’ of the technology on all the stakeholders. Mr Lobo is an active volunteer of IEEE and works with Tata Consultancy Services.

Dr. Atul Negi made a presentation on the topic “Ubiquitous Imaging: Societal Boon or Bane?” Dr. Negi spoke about the evolution and recent advances in electronic surveillance products and underlying technologies and mentioned their merits and demerits, evaluated on the basis of personal and mass surveillance. Dr Negi is Chair of IEEE Hyderabad Section.

Mr Amarnath Raja and Mr. J Muraleemohan Lal, former Chairs of IEEE Kerala Section also presented their views on relevance of SSIT in present scenario.

A panel discussion was also organized on the theme “The Society-Technology Interface: Emerging Challenges for Humanity”. . The panelists included Dr. Atul Negi, Mr. Anthony Lobo, Ms. Sarada Jayakrishnan, Coordinator, IEEE WIE, Kerala Section and Mr. Ranjit R Nair, Chair, IEEE GOLD, Kerala Section. The session was moderated by Mr Amarnath Raja. Mr. Anthony Lobo made the critical observed that sustainability needs to be defined and understood in the broader perspective for any advent on technological innovation. Dr. Atul Negi observed that rationality should be brought in with proper design principles that should govern technology implementation. Ms. Sarada Jayakrishnan expressed the view that system should be able to inculcate a sense of discrimination for decision making among the general public, learnt through proper awareness on the rules and regulations enforced. Mr. Ranjit R Nair noted that given the rate and order at which innovations take birth and perish in the technology space, it will be impractical to aim for very long term solutions and encouraged promoting the course of ‘demonstrative anthropology’ among the young professionals to adapt themselves better to changing scenarios.

(Inputs from Mr Satish Babu)

Global Forum welcomes new era of open innovation

Innovation in information and communication technologies drives global economic development

Network World – Trieste, Italy — The historic industrial port city of Trieste hosted the 22nd Global Forum conference last week, where the focus was on innovation in information and communication technologies as catalysts for economic and community development. Invitation-only delegates this year came from 36 countries and international organizations such as the European Commission and the U.S. government, augmented by delegates from corporations and global government agencies.

Prosperous and picturesque, Trieste has long been a center of science and culture, frequented by writers such as Mark Twain and Rainer Maria Rilke. The 19th century explorer Richard Burton wrote The Arabian Nights here and it’s also the place where James Joyce produced his novels Ulysses and Dubliners. Global Forum often forecasts world trends in the information and communication industries and Trieste was chosen to highlight the transforming strategies of the information economy.

The Chair of Global Forum’s 2013 Innovation panel, Bror Salmelin, of the European Union’s Directorate General CONNECT organization, outlined the differences between the old days of corporate-government research being the dominant model, to a new era of user-centric innovation, open innovation, systemic innovation and experimental mash-ups.

“Sustainable innovation is full of disruptions,” he said. “Science-based linear innovation is not mainstream anymore. Success probability and success speed are critical.”

During a question-and-answer session, Finland native Salmelin was asked about the future of the once-leading mobile device company Nokia. He noted that before it got into telephony, Nokia was a manufacturer of rubber boots and paper products. The company will have to innovate once again to meet the challenges of the new era it’s entered, he said. He is confident that Nokia will rise to the challenges, but it will be a different Nokia than it is today.
Enrico Fiore, CEO of Truyoins Ventures (a neologism based on the slogan “Trust Your Instincts” he said), said the essence of innovating in the global environment is to follow the slogan (originated by an Italian fashion company) “No Fear.”

Innovation requires the ability to be fault-tolerant, to see yourself making mistakes and learning fast from them; improve and move on. Fiore said this is why corporate managers often are unable to be innovative, because they fear making mistakes. Fiore advised: “Listen. Try. Act. Remember.”

A change this new era requires is for governments to stop protecting status-quo businesses, said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, which sponsors the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Shapiro said, “Innovation is a belief system. It’s not just Silicon Valley. It’s regional. It relies on risk-taking and investment. It benefits from diversity, culture and reward systems. It is enhanced by a higher mission, goals, measurements and passion. It needs leaders/doers.”

Professor Yoshio Tanaka of Tokyo University offered some technology design suggestions. He said it is difficult to sell hardware by differentiation. What is required is service design with value-added. For example, two key drivers of satisfaction in the modern era are: to be stress-free by having less responsibility for outcomes, and to belong to a community. Technology can be built to deliver on both these drivers of user satisfaction.

“Open data is the raw material for innovation,” said Ann-Marie Fineman of VINNOVA, Sweden’s government agency for innovation systems. “Collaboration is key,” she said, and recommended Hackathons and Make-athons, which they have sponsored as “coworking spaces.”

Regional development

Regional development was emphasized. No longer are separate nation-states driving innovation, but regional partnerships, and innovative city states. One of the most intriguing approaches is “Danubio,” a trans-national approach linking the countries and regions of the Danube River drainage, which crosses most of southern Europe.

This is an approach forecast by the American nature writer Gary Snyder. Observing that many political borders are based on abstract surveyor’s boundaries like the Mason-Dixon line, or historical precedent based on wars and treaties, Snyder recommends building identity based on the naturally-occurring river basins worldwide. Such identity anchors the population in the natural environment it’s in, and in fact begins to reinforce what was most often the historic movement of peoples, trade and information until the industrial era.

Taking such an approach, new configurations emerge. Antoine-Tristan Mocilnikar, a French government ministerial “Delegate to the Mediterranean,” says the south and western parts of that region have 290 million people, almost the population of the United States. There is a 100% rate of mobile adoption, along with 100 million people sharing Internet access. The region has 50 million Facebook accounts already.

Global Forum 2013 was led by Dr. Sylviane Toporkoff, president of Global Forum, and a founding partner of sponsor ITEMS International. The next Global Forum will be held in fall 2014, at a European venue to be announced early next year.

Jay Gillette

Gillette is professor of information and communication sciences at Ball State University, director of its Human Factors Institute, and a senior research fellow and officer at the Digital Policy Institute.

A simple plan to limit global warming

Let us assume that there were a worldwide outbreak of the plague and all the governments did were to hand out aspirin to its citizens: “It does not solve the problem but it is something we can easily afford doing”. Most of us would not be happy with this response. Yet, it is exactly the kind of approach we seem to prefer when dealing with global warming. Whatever actions the governments are discussing, we all know that it is too little too late: the annual emissions of CO2 are still increasing globally, even though they need to drop significantly.

The reason for this is simple. Fossil fuel is still abundant and therefore quite cheap. According to the International Energy Agency (World Energy Outlook 2012), the energy source of the future is coal unless significant political measures are taken to change this.

This is all very worrying. If we assume that the climate scientists are right – and there is absolutely no reason to assume otherwise – our reliance on fossil fuel will lead to a hotter climate and rising sea levels, with a huge impact on our society. Arguably, we are already seeing the first consequences with extreme weather phenomena, increasing food prices, and a large number of climate refugees.

On the other hand, fossil fuel is only cheap because we choose to ignore the external costs related to pollution and CO2 emissions. As long as it is possible to dump CO2 into the atmosphere for free, it will always be difficult for other sources of energy to compete. This is very frustrating to engineers, as many of technical solutions for improving fuel efficiency and generating renewable energy are be available. The currently suffer from the problem of being slightly more expensive than the carbon-based alternatives. If energy from fossil fuel were more expensive than renewable energy, no company in the world would voluntarily burn coal.

The purpose of GISEco (Global Initiative for a Sustainable Econoly) is to improve the energy efficiency of the world economy through the introduction of Global Sustainability Fee (GSF) in the simplest possible manner:
1.         All producers of fossil fuel pay a fee proportional to the amount they produce (in carbon or CO2 equivalent) to a global fund.
2.         The money from this fund is distributed evenly among the world’s nations according to the size of their populations.

The system would be easy to set up and administer and would ensure a level playing field. Industrialized countries would have an incentive to reduce their dependence on carbon-based fuel while simultaneously providing poorer countries the necessary resources to deal with the consequences of global warming.

How radical is this idea? Actually, the world’s nations agreed to accomplish exactly what we propose already in1992. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change calls for CO2 concentration in the atmosphere to be stabilized and for richer nations to support the poorer ones in coping with the effects of climate change. Unfortunately, the parties agreed only on what to do and not how to do it. With GISEco, we propose a simple and effective plan to remedy this omission. The idea is not perfect but it is a lot better than doing nothing. With such a plan on the negotiating table, no politician should be able to claim that the problem of global warming is too complex to be solved. The solution is actually quite simple and we all know it.

We have been discussing the problem of global warming for 50 years now. The time has come to focus on solutions. GISEco was started to promote the idea of a Global Sustainability Fee with the aim of putting it on the agenda at the next UN Climate Change Conference. Please join our effort by spreading the word.

Henrik Nordborg

IEEE-SSIT on LinkedIn:

IEEE-SSIT is on LinkedIn! Interesting SSIT discussions on the LinkedIn site are on-going and currently there are more than 1200+ SSIT members connected to the LinkedIn site.

It is easy to join our LinkedIn Community – for more information, go to

Come and join the online interactions!

IEEE-SSIT on Facebook:

A place to discuss the Social Implications of Technology! See something technology related that poses an ethical dilemma or has unintended consequences? The SSIT Group on Facebook has 4600+ members at

IEEE SSIT Logo Contest was successfully hosted on the Facebook.

Come and join the online interactions!

2013 SSIT Logo Design Contest Yields Major Facebook Impact
Our logo design contest generated a number of impressive results, including an increase in our Facebook group from 200 to 4500 members (and still growing).

We also obtained some really neat designs that we are currently highlighting on our Blog page ( ).

So here’s the list of winners, their logos where applicable, and our congratulations and thanks to all who participated.

The “Best in Class” submission, selected by the SSIT panel of judges was submitted by Hiran Venugopalan of  Kerala, India.

I’m presenting variants created to combine the submission with acknowledgements in banners for the SSIT Blog page. You can see that Hiran’s submission complements the IEEE logo and colors and can be used as a symbol, or with text in various ways. Hiran is a web designer and entrepreneur, see for more insight.

The second major award was not actually for a logo. We also ran a Facebook “Like” contest, and folks had to join our Facebook group to “like” a submission.  If you think about this, it is not a measure of the logo itself, but of the influence and reach of the submitters and their friends.  Satya Tazi  of Ajmer, India won this contest, attracting over 450 ‘like’ votes.  It is interesting to note that the total number of like votes (a bit over 1000) did not come near the total number of new group members.

We also made a special award to Harish Chennamsetty,  Karlskrona, Sweden. . Harish created a Youtube video ( ) describing his submission, as well as a web page ( ). Harish obtained the second largest number of “likes”, is a regular contributor to the Facebook group, and  (2012/13) web designer for the IEEE BTH Student Branch ( ) In addition to a “Neat Idea” he also raised the bar for future contests with incorporation of Youtube and related materials.

In addition to the banner format, Harish also included smaller logo formats and black and white format.

A number of the submissions were not quite the right format for a “logo” but make really neat banner presentations.

Our participants here span from Africa to Malaysia.

One last Neat Idea was submitted by Piyush Bang, but I’ve not yet received his “ok” to use it as part of our banner presentations . The SSIT Board of Governors will be considering what changes, if any, to make to our current Logo. One of our lessons learned is we should have “entered” the current logo so some feedback and comparison could have been obtained from this process.

Jim Isaak, Logo Contest ad hoc chair


New to the Fellow Web Site is the redesigned Fellows Directory. It is the most comprehensive online search and networking tool available to members.  If you need to complete an IEEE Fellow Nomination, gather information for a region, section, or society, it’s now easy to accomplish.

The information in the directory can be accessed by six categories: alphabetical by last name, year elevated, gender, IEEE region, IEEE society, and deceased. Within these categories, members can search, sort, or run a filter. For example, a report can be compiled on all Fellows within a specific region elevated in a particular year. The directory allows members to view the profiles of Fellows plus the ability to network with the Fellows.  If you are not an IEEE member, you will have limited access to certain information.

Check it out today.  The directory works on handheld devices and computers.  To access the directory, go to, then click the Fellow Directory icon.

Rosann Marosy


In 2014, IEEE will mark its 50th Fellow Class. It represents decades of honoring IEEE Fellows whose extraordinary accomplishments have changed the world.

The IEEE grade of Fellow was born in 1964 out of the merge of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) and the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE).  The emphasis on the elevation was and still is reserved for select IEEE members who have contributed importantly to the advancement of engineering, science, and technology, bringing the realization of significant value to society.

Only one-tenth of one percent of the total voting membership can be elevated in any one year.  Over the last fifty years, IEEE has elevated roughly 10,000 members to this honor.  This is a very small percentage compared to the total membership.  Unquestionably, Fellows are the crown jewels of the organization.  One can only imagine what the next fifty years will bring, and the new technology that will be developed, discovered, or taught, and what new IEEE Fellows will be recognized for their achievements.

Throughout the year, various celebrations will take place to honor those who have achieved this distinction.  If you know an IEEE Fellow, congratulate him/her again for receiving this honor.  You can recognize them personally, or you can acknowledge them publicly at region meetings, society meetings, section meetings, and/or conferences.
Rosann Marosy


2013 IEEE-SSIT Board of Governors: 

President: Laura Jacob;
Vice-President: Greg Adamson;
Secretary: Lew Terman;
Treasurer: Kenneth R. Foster;
Past President: Gerald Engel;

Elected Members-at-Large:  (3 year terms, last year date)
2013     Greg Adamson, Joe R Herkert, Bradley P Kjell
2014     Emily Anesta, Jim Isaak, Laura Jacob
2015     Elya Joffe, Deepak Mathur, Lew Terman

Online Resources:

  • SSIT Website

  • How to Join SSIT

  • IEEE Technology and Society Magazine

  • Conferences

ISTAS: the annual International Symposium on Technology and Society

  • IEEE SSIT blog

  • SSIT Chapters

Toronto: (joint with other ieee society chapters) 

Next issue of SSIT newsletter (Spring 2014) will be published and emailed in the month of May 2014. SSIT brings 3 issues of SSIT newsletter in a year – Winter Issue in January, Spring issue in May and Fall issue in September every year.

SSIT invites news, articles, reports etc. for the next issue of the newsletter.

Please offer your comments, suggestions and feedback to make SSIT newsletter more effective and informative. All communication related to SSIT newsletter may please be sent to the newsletter editor: Deepak Mathur at


Copyright and Innovation

“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution) is the foundation for U.S. Copyright (and patent) law.  In an article siding with Google Books against the Authors Guild, James Panero, Executive Editor for the New Criterion, argues that US Copyright law needs to be revisited, objecting in part to the apparent perpetual extension of copyright as Mickey Mouse comes up for expiration. The heart of his argument is that creative expression is suppressed by the (inappropriate?) application of copyright law.

Let’s get some disclaimer’s clear here.  First, IEEE (home of the Society for the Social  Implications of Technology) is a major scientific publisher, with more papers cited in US Patent fillings than any other publisher, and a primary source of income for IEEE is subscriptions to it’s publications.  I suggest that New Criterion is also a publication with all of it’s copyright protections in proper order.  (Although I wonder if the Wall Street Journal, in the case of Panero’s piece, actually has it’s written legal agreement with Mr. Panero protecting it’s rights— they called me the last time they published one of my letters but I know they did not ask about movie rights, international translation rights, or even e-rights.)

This issue IS complicated.  I’m a published fiction author as well as more typical engineering with professional publications. My daughter is a “real” fiction author (multiple books in print, and an active leader in her relevant professional societies.) So we get in some delightful discussions about copyright which in many ways is vital for both of us.  In the U.S. there are different rules that apply to performance copyright as opposed to the written word, and trademark’s which are different beasts (Mickey Mouse is presumably covered by all of the possible laws, in addition to having personal body guards.)  Many “plays” are never actually published (ergo becoming subject to copyright expiration.) This tradition actually goes back to pre-Shakespearean times.  Back then the Crown owned all intellectual property, so by not-publishing the author retained control for some period of time.  Patents, circa 1600, were monopolies granted by the Crown, and not necessarily tied to innovation.  (Much of the North American colonies were founded on land granted by Crown patents.)  So you can see when the American Spring occurred (1776+), there were reasons for the United States to consider parting ways on intellectual  property with the mother country.

Consider two examples: Harry Potter and The Lego Movie (no, that is not a new Harry Potter movie, these are two separate movies.)  As the date for Harry Potter’s film debut approached, Time-Warner (along with the other copyright holders) became quite aggressive asserting their rights, including threatening kids who had created Harry Potter fan sites. The lucrative after-market item business is a strong incentive for stakeholders to grab as much territory as possible. (The Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios is really great, for example. But I’m an engineer so I made my own wand, thank you.)  Panero’s examples of creativity available if you can gently infringe on the rights of others presumably includes the fan-pages involved here.  I encountered this problem while assisting kids with Odyssey of the Mind (OM) where use of trademarked-copyright protected characters was prohibited (for a while they allowed parody, which is one exception, but that became to hard to judge.)  Of course OM split into Destination ImagiNation over a legal dispute on copyrights and trademarks.  (What goes around, comes …)

Which leads me to the Lego Movie.  Here we have an official Lego “property”, which actually is a parody at some levels of the Lego concept. I might add that Lego is the only corporation I know of that has managed to legally span from Harry Potter and Star Wars into Batman and Disney franchises.   This movie is so “true” to the Lego concept, that sound effects can reflect the type of noises kids might make while playing with their creations.  It may be difficult to distinguish between the best made YouTube videos by creative individuals (Legos aren’t just for kids anymore), and authorized creations by the Lego Corporation.  I suspect they are not going to aggressively pursue Lego Movie copyright abuses, at least in the area of derivative works. (They even brag that every scene can be constructed from Legos.)

The problem for technologists is that we want to be able to make a living (as do the artists and authors protected by copyright.)  And in the areas of engineering, software and so forth, the Intellectual Property protections can be a key asset for our remuneration and in most cases corporate prosperity.  However, often it is the corporate interests and not the individual that both pursue and benefit from the government granted monopolies associated with intellectual property.  When corporations can lay off some of the key innovators while continuing to profit from their patents and creations, one has to question if the U.S. IP system is actually serving it’s purpose. Things like “Design Patents” cover the color and shape of things as opposed to functional capabilities (I wonder if Disney has a design patent on Mickey?) which makes the concept even fuzzier.

How long should the government granted monopoly on IP last?  How might this differ between a book, a software program, a design, a mechanical device, the singing of a song, writing the words of the song,  writing the music for the song, recording the song on media, etc?  And are we really protecting “Authors and Inventors”  when the individuals no longer have the actual rights? (Paul McCartney now owns Yesterday, having bought it from Michael Jackson as I understand it, but other stories differ.)  Traditional book contracts have the rights revert to the author after the book goes out of print, but does it ever go out of print in a Print on Demand world?

If Innovation and creativity is our objective, then do we actually have the right rules to facilitate this?  What is your view? (Only creative and/or innovative comments permitted?)
(Oh my,  if your comments are as long as this entry, they fall,  defacto under copyright law, so I will assume your posting them on this site constitutes a non-exclusive right to publish your comments….— you see it does get complicated.)

How Should Humanity Steer the Future?

The Foundational Questions Institute, in collaboration with Scientific American, the Templeton Foundation, the Gruber Foundation, and Jann Tallinn is sponsoring an essay contest (9 pgs max) with submissions due by April 18th with the topic headlined in this post. See the contest rules if you want to make a submission.

There is a window for you to vote on your choices based on relevance and if the presentation is interesting.  This, IMHO, is right in SSIT’s ballpark. So I encourage all SSIT members and ‘similarly interested folks;’ to join the FQXi community, read the entries (after April 20th or whatever) and select your preferences before the May 30th deadline.

“In this contest we ask how humanity should attempt to steer its own course in light of the radically different modes of thought and fundamentally new technologies that are becoming relevant in the coming decades. 

Possible topics or sub-questions include, but are not limited to:

  • What is the best state that humanity can realistically achieve?
  • What is your plan for getting us there? Who implements this plan?
  • What technology (construed broadly to include practices and techniques) does your plan rely on? What are the risks of those technologies? How can those risks be mitigated?

(Note: While this topic is broad, successful essays will not use this breadth as an excuse to shoehorn in the author’s pet topic, but will rather keep as their central focus the theme of how humanity should steer the future.) 
Additionally, to be consonant with FQXi’s scope and goals, essays should be sure to touch on issues in physics and cosmology, or closed related fields, such as astrophysics, biophysics, mathematics, complexity and emergence, and the philosophy of physics.”



Technology Public Relations

A challenge for any technology community is to manage how they are perceived by the public, policy makers, etc.  This is something that many technologists and engineers “just don’t get”.  However, a key part of social impact is public perspective.

I had a curious lesson in this from the Oil Industry on a trip though Midland Texas.  As you may know, if you travel though US oil country (Texas, Montana, etc.) there are areas where you can’t get a hotel room, or if you can it costs an arm and leg … the oil industry is having a construction boom. Midland is one such spot.

This is the location of “The Petroleum Museum” where the industry celebrates it’s technology, history, etc. There is lots of neat stuff, some interactive displays  (unfortunately the one demonstrating a well pump is not a pump, which would be an easy fix that would help folks “get it”) …

A promotional video tends to get a bit too strong on the push for oil, discounting all other forms of energy. That is not needed, not credible, and probably not in the interest of the oil industry (some of the major suppliers are investing in alternative energy sources, and many are promoting these as part of their advertising at least.) … So, once you lose your credibility it is hard to recover.

Given the general interest in clean energy and impact on the environment, Midland Texas is a poster child for failure.  Ok, so I’m not a Texas desert flat land advocate in the first place. But, the amount of liter, roadside trash, accumulated junk is downright amazing.  Short of driving in a dump, I’ve actually never seen the sheer quantity of garbage, and this is all down the major highway into, through and leading out of town. A little bit of image control could go a long way, and that might include cleaning up the area surrounding the museum, airport, etc.

If the oil industry manages the environmental impact of their drilling and other activities the way they do one of their major centers of operations — well, they have a public relations problem.

And remember — this is a key aspect of technology — the industry as a user of technology, and also as part of the “pipeline” essential to powering our technology.
So we need to consider where that finger points.

The Ethics of Whistle Blowing

SSIT actually has an award for whistle blowers: The Carl Baraus Award. This recognizes Outstanding Service in the Public Interest, which often takes the form of whistle blowing.  There are other actions that can qualify, so this is not a specific limitation.  But it does acknowledge that running counter to corporate or institutional interests and policies requires some unique courage.  When this is driven by ethical concerns and the public interest it warrants kudos.

Finding the balance between interests is non-trivial.  Corporate cheating on tax forms is not in the same league as methodical, knowing, misrepresentation of fatal health impacts of products or activities; although I suspect governments allocate more resources to the former than the later — resources disproportionate to the level of occurrence.  There is limited support for government agencies that interfere with profitable businesses, at least until the public outcry gets loud enough.  Paths for building political support from corruption to “Citizens United” empowered contributions can lean the scales strongly in one direction.

The balance is more difficult when the players are a government and an insider who feels the need to reveal secret information.  Time Magazine did their cover issue on this question this week.  There is a difference, IMHO, between a real spy — someone who is working for the “other guys”, and as a result is misrepresenting his loyalties and a “leaker”.  Presumably the leaker is still loyal to the country involved, but has, as a matter of personal judgement, decided to break his or her oath of secrecy to reveal information deemed “critical to the public interest” or “a gross violation of national security” depending on whose viewpoint you take.  It is quite possible in some of these cases that the leaks will result in deaths.  The names of foreign agents can get them killed. Exposing aspects of the “security theater” that is used to dissuade terrorists can give them loopholes for admission.  While it should be little surprise to most terrorists that organizations like NSA are monitoring their activities (among millions of others) … one might take a bit of time before suggesting how they can circumvent the mechanisms.

I suspect there might even be a “code of ethics” applicable for leakers.  For example, taking care to not release information that will identify individuals and put their lives in danger.  No doubt some readers may be concerned about individuals making this judgement as opposed to the appropriate authorities, but recall, the individuals involved have already made a judgement contrary to the appropriate authorities, so this calls on them to make a more informed set of decisions.

Are there  other elements that might belong in a “Leakers code of ethics”?