IEEE Ethics History Repository (IEHR)

Introduction

This, the IEEE Ethics History Repository, or IEHR, is the first WEB site of the IEEE History Center devoted exclusively to IEEE's Ethics History. It was proposed by Walter L. Elden, P.E. (Ret), an IEEE and SSIT Life Senior Member (w.elden@ieee.org), and endorsed and approved by Michael Geselowitz, (m.geselowitz@ieee.org) Senior Director of the IEEE History Center. Technical Assistance is being provided by Nathan Brewer (n.w.brewer@ieee.org). It is yet to be decided which OU or OUs will take the lead of this project (read the next section which addresses this action item).

An Oral Introduction to the IEEE Ethics History Repository

Walter L. Elden, P.E. (Ret)



Audio File
Walter L Elden Provides an Oral Introduction (CLICK HERE) Discussing the Creation of this IEEE Ethics History Repository
Play (Oral_Introduction_to_the_IEEE_Ethics_History_Repository_by_Walter_L_Elden.mp3)

An open invitation is extended to any IEEE Member with first hand factual historical information, papers, documents, artifacts, etc which would be appropriate to add to the IEHR herein. For technical assistance about how to add content to the IEHR site herein, please contact Nathan Brewer, at the History Center, including digitizing from an original or paper content. The goal is to have all material in electronic form accessible from any where by the Internet.

An open invitation is extended to non-retired and younger IEEE Members to step forward, get involved and to take an active part in promoting IEEE's leadership in promoting, educating and providing both ethics advice and ethical support to Members through engagement and serving on the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee, the EMCC.

Walter L. Elden, P.E. (Ret)
Walter L. Elden, P.E. (Ret)

A Special Thank You to Michael Geselowitz and Nathan Brewer, The IEEE History Center

Michael and Nathan,

I have completed the new IEEE ETHICS HISTORY REPOSITORY as much as I could do. Of all of it I am must pleased with the section created which looks to the future ethical/moral questions yet to be asked and agreed upon by engineers, law makers and the public, dealing with how much autonomy to give to Autonomous Robotic Vehicles, ARVs, over life and death situations. The SSIT, under Greg Adamson, fortunately, is organized and studying these issues on an international basis. IEEE can and should be a/the leader in this.

Here is the IEHR section on Robotic Ethics issues:

FUTURE AUTONOMOUS ROBOTS-Will We Be Prepared for Them?

Can They be Taught Ethics, Moral Reasoning and Should We Trust Them?

Thank you for allowing me complete autonomy to contribute this ethics history repository to IEEE and the future. This will be my last contribution and hope some younger Members will continue the work.

Walter L. Elden, P.E. (Ret)

WEB Site of Walter L. Elden

IEEE & SSIT Life Senior Member

June 26, 2016

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Organizational Unit (OU) Responsible for Maintaing this IEHR

As of this date, June 22, 2016, this IEEE Ethics History Repository is as complete as was possible to do. Now, an IEEE Organizational Unit, OU, needs to take ownership and responsibility for updating and maintaining it. The following invitation and recommendation was made to Greg Adamson, President of IEEE's Society on Social Implications of Technology, the SSIT, for taking over the IEHR, and his response.

Greg,

From the start of my first proposing the creating of an IEEE Ethics History Repository, Dr. Geselowitz, Senior Director of the IEEE History Center, has been wanting an IEEE Operational Unit to assume responsibility for overseeing it. I have created and taken the IEHR as far as I am able to for now, and now suggest for the SSIT to consider offering to become the OU to perform this role. I am hopeful it will do so under your leadership.

I will assist it in whatever way deem helpful, but feel now an OU, like the SSIT, needs to assume responsibilty to keep the IEHR alive, current and relevant.

Walter L. Elden, P.E. (Ret), IEEE and SSIT Life Senior Member

Hi Walter

That sounds appropriate, as long as we get the right volunteer to lead it and introduce it in the right way.

I will get Phil Hall to add this topic to our Strategic Planning Committee list, with a goal of having an answer by the end of this year.

Regards, Greg Dr Greg Adamson, President, IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology

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AN OVERVIEW OF IEEE'S TECHNOLOGIES AND ETHICS HISTORIES

A Timeline of IEEE's Ethics History Events

This provides a timeline of the key ethics events in IEEE's history which to date (October 17, 2016) have been identified, beginning with the formation of the AIEE in 1884. Following this are highlighted summaries of what took place during the time periods highlighted.

1880 to Present Timeline of IEEE's Ethics Historical Events and Activities

Updates to this timeline are invited on an ongoing basis. Send them to either:

w.elden@ieee.org or n.w.brewer@ieee.org

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A. IEEE'S TECHNOLOGIES, 1884 - 2016 and Beyond

In the beginning, 1884, there was Telegraphy, then Electric Power Generation/Distribution, followed by wireline Telephony technologies, inventions and new equipments and creations. Soon, Radio and Electronics arrived. The next newest additions were Computers, Computer Science, the Internet and Global/Spacial Communications with Social Information Sharing. Today we are on the brink that leads us to Future Ethical/Moral Robotics employing Artificial Intelligence in Autonomous Systems. All that spanning AIEE/IRE/IEEE's 132 years of growth. Let us be well prepared for what lies ahead in our new history, yet to be created

B. ACTIVITIES IN THE ETHICS AREA 1884 - 2016 AND BEYOND
  • IEEE's First Code of Ethics, 1884 - 1912

When the IEEE first began, it was first created by a former founding Society, the AIEE. This was composed of practicing electrical professionals who were working engineers. They formed the first society, the AIEE, and by 1912 they had adopted the first code of ethics. Even then the adoption of this code came with some controversy as it actually took six years before it got approved in it's first version.

  • Control of the AIEE Taken from the Founding Engineer Professionals, 1912

By a ruling of the New York Supreme Court, in 1912, the founding engineer professionals had their power to control the AIEE taken away and given to non-engineer practicing professionals, who were business and industry leaders/executives, and were not for the most part able to pass the necessary criteria that practicing engineers were able to. They wanted to and did direct the AIEE thereafter to advance their own business and industry interests, through developing industry standards and limiting the activities to just technical, and not professional.

  • The 1950 Unknown About Code of Ethics, 1950 - 1972

By 1912, the second founding Society, the IRE was formed. Then there appears to be a gap in the record of the history of AIEE ethics until 1950.At that time AIEE's original Code of Ethics was revised for the first time, incorporating Canons of the National Society of Professional engineers' Code of Professional Conduct.

  • Professional Activities Added to IEEE's Constitution, 1972 - 1978

Then in the early 1970s, because of the downturn in employment in the aerospace industry, a number of IEEE Members in the USA were demanding IEEE become heavily involved in professional activities. This resulted subsequently in a vote of the members which was approved by over 86%, amending the IEEE constitution to incorporate professional activities for the first time in his history. After having done this, IEEE then updated the code of ethics to a 1974 version. The previous 1950's code was virtually unknown about later in 1975 when IEEE entered a "friend of the court" Amicus Curiae brief in a case known as the BART case.

Upgrading the 1974 version then led IEEE to the realization of the need for a means for how to enforce it. There were two debates on this issue. On the one hand, some of Members of IEEE's Board of Directors wanted to only discipline members. But on the other hand, other segments of the IEEE, USAC and SSIT, wanted additionally to provide ethical support to engineers whose employment was placed in jeopardy for trying to uphold IEEE's Code. This debate was resolved by combining both services in the creation of what was called the Member Conduct Committee in February 1978.

  • IEEE's Member Conduct Committee Performed Discipline and Support Services, 1978 - 1998

Over the subsequent 20 years, until around 1998, the new Member Conduct Committee acted to enforce discipline and provide some support to a few engineers who requested it. When IEEE created a new Ethics Committee, it instituted several new support programs, such as an Ethics Hotline, the publishing of articles in the INSTITUTE on a bi-monthly basis, an ethic support fund, to which Members could contriburte.

  • IEEEE's Board of Directors Terminated all Ethics Advice and Support Activities, 1998 - 2016

But by the end of 1998 to 2008, the IEEE Board and it ExCom had instituted various stop programs which terminated all ethics advice, it's support hotline and the publication of ethics articles. This brought to a halt everything except the discipline procedures. This was basically what the original IEEE BoD wanted back in 1978; to only discipline violations of its Code. Ever since 2000, that's basically all the new Ethics and Member Conduct Committee, the EMCC, has been allowed to do to today.

  • IEEE's Current Dual Ethics Advice/Support Restrictions on the EMCC Are Challenged, 2016

[[The dual restrictions of IEEE's Board against the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee offering "ethics advice and ethical support" to its Members, are challenged as not being in conformance with various IEEE Governance Documents. It calls for an Amendment to IEEE's Constitution to guarantee providing advice and support.

  • IEEE's Future Will Need to Adapt to Deal with Moral/Ethical Robotics, and Autonomous Systems using AI, 2016 and Beyond

So looking out to the future with the prospect of technology involving new robotics, and artificial intelligence in autonomous systems, medical applications, driverless cars, military weapons, and new technologies, a new code of ethics will need to be created to address these new technologies.

  • The New 2017 IEEE Ethics initiatives

Dr Greg Adamson, President of IEEE's Society on Social Implications of Technology, reported on the new IEEE's New 2017 ethics Initiatives

WLE, January 06, 2017 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

An IEEE Ethics Commentary by Dr. Stephen H. Unger* (printed with permission)

"Walt,

I've been following, with admiration, your efforts to revive ethics support activity in the IEEE. It saddens me that these efforts are receiving no support, and that, to my knowledge, no other efforts have been made along these lines for almost 2 decades.

I'm struck by the fact that our past work in this area, involving also Joe Wujek, Mal Benjamin, Ray Larson, Toni Robbi, Vic Zourides, Frank Kotasek, (I probably left out a few others), all of us being over 80, have not been picked up by any younger engineers. Student essay contests seem to be the most militant activity in the ethics field. An engineer today speaking out against the kind of shocking corruption that produced the VWs with faked pollution controls, could expect no help at all from the IEEE. I have no idea why almost 2 generations of engineers (apart from a very few isolated individuals) seem not to care about the effects of their work on the well being of the public.

Best wishes,

Steve" May 26, 2016 *A Former Member of the IEEE Board of Directors, Chair of the IEEE Ethics Committee, Professor of Computer Science, Columbia University and currently an IEEE Fellow and Member of the Society on Social Implications of Technology

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ETHICS HISTORY REPOSITORY

The following made either direct or indirect contributions to this ethics history repository and are recognized:

Michael Geselowitz, Nathan Brewer, Stephen Unger, Charles Turner, Ray Larsen, Victor Zourides, Greg Adamson, Katina Michael, Cindy Polo, Julie Cozin, Chris Brantley, Jim Issak, Kathy Prez, Susan Hasler, Clinton Andrews, Jeanette Barott, Deepak Mathur, Natalie Krauser-McCarthy, Margie Rafferty, Ronald Standler, Carl Barus, Virginia Edgerton, Salvador Castro, Martha Sloan, Wallace Read, John Guerrara

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IEEE's Earliest Ethics History Began With the AIEE and the IRE

The 1884 Announcement to Form the American Institute of Electrical Engineers

Nathaniel S. Keith in 1884 issued a call for a New York meeting to organize a society of electrical professionals to represent the United States to foreign dignitaries who would be attending the International Electrical Exposition the Franklin Institute was hosting in Philadelphia that fall. They met in New York on May 13, 1884 and established the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the AIEE.

1884 International Meeting
1884 Announcement to Form the American Institute of Electrical Engineers


The AIEE's First Technical Meeting is Recognized as an IEEE Milestone

The AIEE's First Technical Meeting is Recognized

Pre-IEEE merger background history 1884 - 1912 - 1963

The AIEE formed in 1884 to be able to host an International Meeting of Foreign Electrical Engineers meeting at the Franklin Institute. It attracted persons from the Telegraph, Power and Telephone industries. It adopted the first Code of Ethics in 1912, the same year the Institute of Radio Engineers formed.

The IRE formed in 1912, the same year the AIEE adopted its first Code of Ethics. It attracted engineers engaged in electronics and grew faster than the AIEE did, with more younger members. It restricted its mission to Technical and Standards Activities. The IRE did not engage in Professional Activities.

For more in depth history, see The Making of a Profession - A Century of Electrical Engineering in America

A List of AIEE's Presidents

A List of IRE's Presidents

Ethics initiatives in AIEE 1906

"Our organization is powerful, is of a very high standing; it is up to us and it is within our power either to increase the standing of the electrical engineering profession, to put a ban on everything we consider improper, to raise the code of ethics of the electrical engineering profession, or to let matters slide and trust to Providence whether our standing shall rise and fall".

Charles Steinmetz

"I believe we should not do that". Charles Steinmetz, American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the AIEE, 1906

Charles Proteous Steinmetz (1865-1923) was Chief Consulting Engineer for the General Electric Company, President of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) from 1901 to 1902 and was one of the engineers who helped transform electrical engineering into a respected profession.

Business Leaders Versus AIEE's Founding Engineer Professionals

The Professional Standing of Electrical Engineering by A.M McMahon is from a comprehensive paper which traces the origins of IEEE's two founding societies: the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the AIEE, beginning in 1884, and the Institute of Radio Engineers, the IRE, starting around 1912. The AIEE was a product of Power Engineering and Telegraphy whereas the IRE was a product of Wireless Radio Communications. The paper discusses how in the AIEE after the turn of the 19th century, there was competing forces competing to maintain and change the early direction of the AIEE. Conflicting interests between the founding Professionals and the Business leaders and Managers who wanted higher level membership to enable them to direct the AIEE activities more to support their business interests. With the help of the New York Supreme Court, they succeeded. Then the IRE engineers wanted to fucus just on the technical aspects and not get involved in a Code of Ethics or Professionalism that the AIEE professionals wanted. The reading of the history of the AIEE and IRE in this paper is highly recommended for it laid the foundation for who in the later part of the 20th Century had control of the IEEE in curtailing its ethical support activities.

From IEEE's beginning, there were two basic "professional activities" issues, from the era of 1912, which led to IEEE having severe challenges in the ethical and professionalism areas arising strongly in the early 1970's. Both of these had their genesis in the early transformation which occurred in one of IEEE's predecessor societies, the American Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or the AIEE. This was documented well by Edwin T. Layton, Jr. in his book "The Revolt of the Engineers" (The Johns Hopkins university Press, 1986). A Power Point presentation is available.

Edwin T. Layton, Jr. (1929-2009) was president of the Society for the History of Technology and a professor of the history of science and technology at the University of Minnesota from 1975 until his retirement in 1998. He was awarded the Dexter Prize of the Society for the History of Technology for his book The Revolt of the Engineers.

The Revolt of the Enginers, http://www.amazon.com/The-Revolt-Engineers-Responsibility-Engineering/dp/080183287X The Revolt of the Engineers

The Revolt of the Engineers, http://www.amazon.com/The-Revolt-Engineers-Responsibility-Engineering/dp/080183287X The Revolt of the Engineers

In examining the history of American engineering, this book emphasizes professionalism, social responsibility, and ethics. It explains how some engineers have attempted to express a concern for the social effects of technology and to forge codes of ethics which could articulate the profession's fundamental obligation to the public.

  • The document's major sections address:
    • (1) the engineer and business;
    • (2) the evolution of the profession;
    • (3) the ideology of engineering;
    • (4) the politics of status;
    • (5) the revolt of the civil engineers;
    • (6) measuring the unmeasurable (scientific management and reform);
    • (7) the engineer as reformer (Morris L. Cooke);
    • (8) the engineering method personified (Herbert Hoover and the Federated American Engineering Societies);
    • (9) the return to normalcy (1921-1929); and
    • (10) the depression and the New Deal (the engineers ideology in decline).

I will highlight two of these impacts next.

The first and earliest basic issue was that "businessmen" wanted full membership in the AIEE, so they could direct its interests and activities away from the "professional" interests and activities of the "founding practicing engineers", and toward the business interests of utilities and other industries which they managed. They accomplished this when the New York State Supreme Court ruled in their favor over a suit they brought to broaden membership rules to include them as "engineers" too in the AIEE. This led to the relaxing of the criteria that had been used to ascertain the technical/professional qualifications of the then early "founding practicing" engineers. Subsequent to this, the AIEE/IRE merging into today's IEEE, was limited by its Constitution to engage in Technical Activities alone. It was not until 1972 when the IEEE Members overwhelmingly voted to change IEEE's Constitution, did it begin to engage in "Professional Activities".

For a detailed account of this transformation from the AIEE being led by its founder Professionals to the new Business leaders, read in Layton's book, "The Revolt of the Engineers", pages 79 through 93. This is a MUST READ for IEEE Members, to learn from where the AIEE started, to the takeover by Busniess leaders. It is contended that this control carries on to the present, 2016, and led to the dual restriction prohibiting the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee today from offering ETHICS ADVICE and ETHICAL SUPPORT.

The second issue followed this takeover of the AIEE by "businessmen" again in which this time they used their corporate political power in the AIEE and industry to cause "practicing engineers" who were engaged in industry, to be exempt from being required to obtain and hold a valid legal Professional Engineer's license. This action in essence killed any motivation of the vast number of industry engineers from becoming licensed "professionals", as was envisioned by the earliest practicing founding engineers of the AIEE. By not holding a P.E. license, they were not held accountable to a legal Code of Professional Conduct, ethics, in their industry practices. Industry's argument for this change was that they, the corporation, would be held liable for engineering errors which might occur in their design practice of the corporation's products and services. This P.E. exemption of engineers practicing in industry still exists today.

1912 Code of Ethics

Dr. Schuyler Skaats Wheeler, was President of the A. I. E. E. 1905–1906. At Milwaukee in May 1906 Dr. Wheeler delivered his presidential address on “Engineering Honor” and it was from this address that the ideas were taken for the “Code of Ethics” for Electrical engineers finally adopted by the Board of Directors in 1912]. He always took an active interest in the work of the Committee on Code of Principles of Professional Conduct of which he was chairman at the time of his death. This became in effect, IEEE"s first Code of Ethics and the first of any of the Founding Engineering Societies.

A proposal for the first AIEE Code of Ethics was published in 1907 as a proposed code of ethics.

The authors and co-signers of the proposal were:

  • CHARLES P. STEINMETZ,
  • HAROLD W. BUCK,
  • SCHUYLER SKAATS WHEELER. Chairman.

In it, these PRINCIPLES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT FOR THE GUIDANCE OF THE ELECTRICAL ENGINEER were proposed:

  • A. General Principles.
  • B. Relations of the electrical engineer to his employer, customer, or client.
  • C. Relations of the electrical engineer to the ownership of the records of his work.
  • D. Relations of the electrical engineer to the public.
  • E. Relations of the electrical engineer to the engineering fraternity.
  • F. Relations of the electrical engineer to the standards of his profession.

But it wasn't until 1912 that it was finally adopted.

Primary documents and papers

Cover of the 1912 AIEE Code of Ethics

GO TO THE TOP OF PAGE

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IEEE Was Formed from the AIEE and IRE

History of the IEEE and its Forming when the AIEE and IRE were Merged in 1963

History of the IEEE

The IEEE Today

List of IEEE Presidents 1963 to the present

IEEE Modernized its Code of Ethics and Created the Member Conduct Committee

Ethics under IEEE 1972 to Present

  • The Proposed Constitutional Amendment to Add Professional Activities - This article appeared in Spectrum in 1972 and explained a proposed Constitutional Amendment, if passed, would add Professional Activities to IEEE's long standing Technical, Educational and Standards Activities. In November of 1972, the Amendment passed by over 86 %. That led to the upgrading of the IEEE Code of Ethics in 1974, entering the BART Case and forming the Member Conduct Committee, among other professional and career enhancing programs.
  • The IEEE and the New Professionalism
  • USAB-Where Did We Come From, by John Guarerra, John Guarerra, a former USAB Vice President, writes about where the USAB came from, why and what it set out to accomplish.
  • IEEE USA -Its History from the USAC and USAB, This presents the history of IEEE's USAB, the Professional Arm of Regions 1-6. USAB, and its predecessor the USAC, played a pivotal role during the 1970's in the development of the 1974 Code of Ethics, IEEE's entering an Amicus Curiae in the BART Case, the forming of an Ethics Task Force which drafted the set of Discipline and Ethical Support procedures which led to forming the Member Conduct Committee.

In November of 1972, the IEEE Members voted over 86% support and Professional Activities was added to the IEEE Constitution for th e first time since the AIEE forerunner was first established in 1884. In the Orlando (FL-USA) Section of IEEE, at its next meeting, held in December 1972, when outgoing IEEE President Robert Tanner, from Canada and IEEE's first International Member President, attended, a proposal was made by Member Walter Elden for the forming of a Professional Activities Committee, or PAC, in the Section. The Executive Board gave its approval and the new PAC, believed to have been the first to be established following the Constitutional Amendment change, began operating starting the next month, January 1973. The first PAC Chair then was Walter Elden and monthly meetings began to be held regularly, and well attended. In later years, the term PAC was changed to PACE, meaning Professional Activities Committee for Engineers, to avoid confusion with Political Action Committee, another PAC jargon.

It just so happened that the next SOUTHEASTCON was to be held in Orlando in April-May of 1974, the next year. PAC Chairman Elden proposed and received approval to form and hold a new papers session at this conference, that being for Professional Activities. In so doing, the Orlando Section at that SOUTHEASTCON created the first Professional Activities papers Session in IEEE's history, another milestone. Authors were invited to submit papers for consideration. There were a total of 12 papers chosen to be presented, from authors, David Boseman, Walter Elden, Walter Nunn, Ted Stefanik. and Paul Thompson.


We must begin discussing “ethical support” with a specific Code of Ethics to be supported in mind, so I begin with the 1974 Code adopted by the IEEE. But actually, prior to the 1974 Code, there were actually two previous Codes, that had been adopted by one of IEEE’s predecessor Societies, the AIEE, in 1912, and then in 1950. As an aside, IEEE, in preparing its Amicus Curiae brief in the BART case was not even aware that there existed the 1950 AIEE Code.

Here are the relevant links:

The 1974 Code was a direct result of the IEEE Members voting in November 1972 by over 82% YES to amend its Constitution to add “professional activities” and “the promotion of ethical conduct.“

Before the 1974 Code got approved, however, there was a lot of debate, led by Dr. Stephen H. Unger, a former IEEE Ethics Committee Chair and Member of the IEEE Board of Directors, to provide for supporting those who tried to uphold the Code, but came into conflict with their employer. The IEEE Board just wanted to provide for disciplining unethical conduct, whereas Unger and others on the Committee on the Social Implications of Technology, CSIT, voiced the need to provide for ethical support as well.

Unger in 1973, prior to there being a Member Conduct Committee, presented his proposal for supporting the ethical engineer.

Until 1973, there were just proposals for supporting the ethical engineer, and they only focused on the upholding of the IEEE Code of Ethics in employee-employer professional/ethical disputes, and nothing to do with Collective Bargaining, or Trade Union matters.

In Canor 10 of IEEE's Code of Ethics, the following is stated:

to assist colleagues and co-workers in their professional development and to support them in following this code of ethics.”

The highlighted words are the operative ones. It commits the IEEE, its Members and Officers, to supporting its Members trying to uphold its Code of Ethics. In order to be able to fully carry this out, it must be able to accept and deal with employee-employer disputes, dealing with professional/ethical issues, thus overriding the subject restriction, and providing ethics advice when sought.

The BART Case and IEEE's Amicus Curiae Legal Brief 1972 - 1975

Around 1972,Steve Unger , PhD, wrote in an IEEE publication, called the Committee on the Social Implications of Technology, or CSIT

In it he, Steve Unger, PhD at Columbia University, had written about the plight of 3 engineers employed by the Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, system in California. They had been fired for raising their concerns over safety defects they observed in the development of the new BART Train System, and then they brought a suit against BART. IEEE Spectrum magazine subsequently published articles shedding light on the specifics of what these 3 engineers had attempted to do to remedy the unsafe designs they had uncovered. Then a milestone in IEEE occurred when the IEEE Board of Directors, in 1974, approved entering the BART Case, with an Amicus Curiae, or Friend of the Court brief. In this, IEEE used the leading engineering Codes of Ethics to argue that "engineers had a responsibility to protect the public safety and to be fired for that action was unlawful". Ultimately, the 3 engineers settled with BART and the case did not go forward, unfortunately. If it had, the IEEE's brief may have produced a landmark decision regarding the responsibility of engineers to protect the public's safety and to discharge one for doing this was unlawful.

Here are the key accounts of the BART Case and the 3 affected Engineers:

Amicus Curiae Briefs of the IEEE:

The IEEE, under By-Law I-113, has had a policy for over 40 years to offer "ethical support" in situations as described above. Further, as part of this policy, the IEEE provides for the providing of an "Amicus Curiae," restricting it to matters of ethical principal, in ethical support requests. Policy 7.13 provides for the preparation of the Amicus Curiae, when approved by the IEEE.

In January 1975, the IEEE entered its first and only Amicus Curiae, in a "wrongful discharge" ethics matter, in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) case. This involved 3 IEEE engineers, who brought suit against the BART District entity for their "wrongful discharge" for actions they took to "protect the public" in matters of engineering design of the automated train control system. Essentially, the IEEE legal brief made these statements of law to the court, in this case:

"In any charge to the jury herein, this court should instruct the jury that if it finds, based upon the evidence, that an engineer has been discharged solely or in substantial part because of his bona fide efforts to conform to recognized ethics of his profession involving his duty to protect the public safety, then such discharge was in breach of an implied term of his contract of employment."

The IEEE brief said that not only should this apply to Public employment bodies, but to private employers too.

History of the Debates Over the Creation of the 1974 IEEE Code of Ethics

An outgrowth of IEEE entering the BART Case, was the establishment of the 1974 Code of Ethics. This was not the first Code as one of the predecessor societies to the IEEE, that being the AIEE, had adopted its first Code in 1912. This lasted until 1950 when it was brought into line with the new Canons of the Engineering Council for Professional Development, the ECPD, and the National Society of Professional Engineers, the NSPE.

Subsequent to enacting the 1974 Code, there developed two major viewpoints regarding the enforcing of the new 1974 Code. One camp, the Board of Directors, felt that only discipline procedures should be enacted, reminiscent of the 1912 era in the AIEE when Pro Business and Industrial Leaders began exerting more control than the founding engineer professionals, as discussed in Edwin Layton's book, "The Revolt of the Engineers" (see above). A another camp however, comprised of Dr. Stephen H. Unger, the Committee on Social Implications of Technology, CSIT, and the United States Activities Committee, USAC, felt that additionally, engineers should be provided ethical support where their employment was placed in jeopardy for trying to uphold this Code. Eventually, in 1978, both were incorporated when a new Member Conduct Committee was created. Both discipline and support were authorized actions of the new MCC for 20 years, until around 2000 unofficially, and then 2005 officially, the modified Ethics and Member Conduct Committee, the EMCC, was restricted to offer only discipline and not provide ethics advice nor ethical support. The following paper captured most of this history.

The History of the Debates Associated with the establishment of the 1974 IEEE Code of Ethics

The IEEE Member Conduct Committee 1978 - 2001

The creation of the Member Conduct Committee was an evolutionary process spanning nearly a decade, beginning in the early 1970's culminating in the Board of Directors approving its establishment in February 1978. A detailed account of the history of this was written by Dr. Stephen H. Unger, (Columbia University Professor of Electrical Engineering and was one of the co-founders of IEEE's Committee on the Social implications of Technology, CSIT). The article appeared in the December 1977 issue of the CSIT Newsletter, titled:

A more detailed account is given for the period 1970 - 1975 in the following book:

There are two well documented accounts of the modern history of IEEE's involvement with ethics, member discipline, ethical support of engineers placed in jeopardy, an ethics hot line, a legal defense fund, and more. These were written by Dr. Stephen H. Unger, starting with IEEE's support of the 3 BART Case engineers, and leading to the formation of the original Member Conduct Committee in 1978.

In the mid-late 1970's, the IEEE USAB had an Ethics Committee under it, focusing on advancing each of the ethics initiatives identified previously. In the late 1970's, it formed its Ethics Task Force, charged with developing proposals for 2 ethics initiatives. One was for disciplining IEEE Members found to have violated its Code of Ethics. The second was for providing support for engineers who were placed in jeopardy for upholding ethical standards. One Saturday morning, in the Spring of 1997, this Ethics Task Force, met in a New York City hotel and developed the framework and procedures for both ethics initiatives. They sketched these on large sheets from a pad on an easel; one for Discipline and one for Support. The Support process flow diagram in the late 1990's-early 2000's was submitted it to the IEEE History Center. Recent efforts to retrieve the Support chart have not been successful.

It is ironic to now look back and realize that it was Steve Unger and Walter Elden, with others, who, in the Spring of 1977, drafted the initial two sets of procedures for creating the Member Conduct Committee. Elden was the one whom the IEEE United States Activities Board President, John Guarrera, asked and did go to the San Diego meeting of the IEEE Board of Directors and presented these proposed procedures to them for adoption. Later, they were merged with another set developed independently by then IEEE member Jim Fairman, an Engineer/Attorney, into what created the Member Conduct Committee. The MCC went into effect in February 1978, some, nearly 40 years ago now. Jim then became its First Chair.

When the first Member Conduct Committee was established in February 1978, it was empowered with two objectives. One dealt with providing Ethical Support and the other was Member Discipline. These were captured in both a Flow Diagram and Narrative fashion. These are shown at this link location:

One day in 1978, Walter Elden received a phone call from a Virginia Edgerton. She had an ethics support need and sought his help in the matter. She was engaged working on a computer dispatch 911 system for New York City and encountered some irregularities in response times which she tried to get corrected, to no avail, she told him. Subsequent to this she was terminated. At the time, Elden was in no situation to give her direct help, but what he did was to refer her to the best qualified and motivated person in IEEE whom he knew would assist her, and that person was Dr. Stephen H. Unger, a Computer Scientist at Columbia University. He had personally investigated, wrote articles and led the CSIT effort to get the IEEE to enter into the BART case dealing with ethical responsibility of engineers. While the Member Conduct Committee had by then been established, Elden had no experience with them but knew of Steve's success in the BART Case, knew him and felt he would do the right thing for her

Ultimately, it was not the MCC which investigated Edgerton's claims and request for ethical support, but rather was the Committee on Social Implications of Technology, or the CSIT.

Under Steve Unger's leadership in the investigation. And it was the CSIT/SSIT direct appeal through the Technical Activities Board, then the Executive Committee, which sent it to the Member Conduct Committee which caused them, the MCC, to undertake their first "request for ethical support" case. In the end. the IEEE acted positively on the MCC recommendation to support Virginia Edgerton, and published what her request and issues were all about, not in the flagship IEEE Spectrum, but in the CSIT Newsletter, supporting her allegations. Later, Virginia Edgerton was the 2nd recipient of the 1979 SSIT BARUS Ethics Award. As of this writing, Virginia Edgerton resides in a retirement home in Sweden.

Here are the links about Virginia Edgerton, her Ethical Support Case and the 1979 IEEE SSIT BARUS Award:

That was the good news about the workings of the new Member Conduct Committee. The bad news, however, was that for the next 15 or more years, it essentially did nothing more in the ethical support area, as pointed out in Ungers' writings. Some of my personal experiences while serving on the MCC later sheds light on why this was.

The IEEE SSIT Carl Barus Award for for Outstanding Service in the Public Interest

Beginning in 1978 and going through 2013, there have been 11 Barus Awards handed out. The 3 BART Engineers were the first and Mark Edwards the most recent. These awards are made by the Awards Committee of IEEE's Society on Social Implications of Technology, the SSIT.

From about 1985 through 1990 Carl Barus chaired SSIT’s Awards Committee. He carefully and thoroughly gathered and evaluated information about each proposed candidate. Published articles, internal reports, memos, and letters were supplemented, as appropriate, by oral interviews with knowledgeable people. Thus, when SSIT gave its Award for Outstanding Service in the Public Interest, which, by its very nature goes to people involved in controversies, we were confident that the society would not be embarrassed by the sudden surfacing of information detrimental to the awardee. The high reputation of this award owes a great deal to the work of Carl Barus. In many other ways this very able, wise man quietly contributed to the development of SSIT and its predecessor committee. It is therefore highly appropriate to have the award named in his honor, and dedicated to his memory. –S. H. Unger (3/23/95)

Between 1977 and 2013 there were 11 Barus Awards given out.

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Over The Years the MCC/EMCC Has Operated Too Secretly

In spite of the original intent that the Member Conduct Committee, now the EMCC, was to operate out in the open, except for maintaining confidentiality where appropriate, it has failed to communicate its operations, cases, final dispositions, and Ex Com/Board final actions to the Membership. This lack of openness was discussed in the one public article, which was published in the INSTITUTE in February of 1998, as follows:

IEEE Member Conduct Committee - 20 Years of Operations by Walter Elden

MCCs Lack of Publicity.jpg

Additional reporting on the fact of how secret the MCC's operations have been was contained in the article by Steve Unger, as follows:

Let's Put Some Teeth into Ethical Support by Steve Unger, 1991-1992

In his article, Unger expressed this viewpoint:

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"In 1986, I served on a committee (reporting to the IEEE Executive Committee) whose task was to review the MCC’s performance. We had only limited information about MCC operations; no reports on specific cases were supplied. We made specific recommendations for improving the operation of the MCC. These included publicizing its existence, and issuing reports on its activities. As was the case with the 1981 review (we were given a copy of the report), none of the recommendations have been implemented. Another such review has recently been concluded. Letters to the IEEE President and President-Elect, requesting that the review committee reports be made public (they do not contain any sensitive information) and that steps be taken to implement their recommendations, remained unanswered after a month. It seems clear that the top IEEE leadership has little enthusiasm for the ethics support activity.

The existence of even the token ethics activity represented by the MCC is due mainly to efforts many years ago by CSIT. The SSIT AdCom has authorized a renewed effort. Should we encounter a case worthy of support, we will investigate, prepare a report, and pass it on to the MCC for action. If no action results, and if we feel that such inaction is unjustified, we will report to the IEEE membership, giving details of the case, suppressing only information that would identify the principals involved. Further steps may be taken as appropriate."

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However, a few, very rare news items over the years since 1978, with the founding of the MCC, were found, written about the MCC/EMCC, which shed a more little light on its/their operations, but not much. If polled, what percentage of IEEE Members would say they were aware of the existence of the EMCC or what it has accomplished. Here are the items found:

1. Item 9 is a short report to a CSIT meeting, by then MCC Chair, James F. Fairman, Jr

In this first ever and possibly the only reporting on MCC's handling of complaints/ethical support, Jim Fairman in 1979, then the first MCC Chair and an Attorney-Engineer, reported the following:

Jim Fairmans Report on MCC Activities.jpg


One final comment of Fairman was important, in which he expressed:

Jim Fairmans Statement on Archival of Cases.jpg


2. In less than 2 years, the Member Conduct Committee, now the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee, will be 40 years in existence. During that time, the only news article that was able to be identified which was written about the MCC, was the one written by Walter Elden and was published by the INSTITUTE in its February 1998 Bi-Monthly Ethics column edition. It is hoped that another will be written, this time, on its 40th anniversary in 2018. The link to his article is as follows:

IEEE Member Conduct Committee - 20 Years of Operations by Walter Elden

Eldens 1998 Reporting on MCC Cases.jpg


3. Slide Presentation about the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee-Dr. Charles Turner, 2002 EMCC Chair

4. A Membership Termination Notice in the INSTITUTE, September 2007

IEEE Membership Termination Notice, INSTITUTE September 2007.jpg
It is hoped that the EMCC will in the future become more open in its operations, communicate more with the Membership and contribute finished works to this History Repository.

MCC/EMCC Annual reports to the BoD 1978 - 2015

The current Chair of the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee has been invited to contribute to this category of the Repository, as has been shown above that past MCC/EMCC entities have not, with these starting topics.

  • Members who served on the MCC and EMCC
  • Employee vrs Employer Compositions
  • Compared lengths Members have served
  • Staff Members who served the MCC/EMCC
  • Discipline Cases Handled, Those with and without merit, and final dispositions
  • Requests for Ethics Advice, Ethical Support, Those with and without merit, and final dispositions
  • TBD

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IEEE ESTABLISHED ITS ETHICS COMMITTEE BUT SUDDENLY TERMINATED ALL ETHICS ADVICE AND ETHICAL SUPPORT

The Ethics Committee 1995 - 2002

IEEE established a separate Committee to deal with Ethics, and was called the Ethics Committee. This operated successfully from 1995 til it was combined with the Member Conduct Committee in 2002, to form the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee, the EMCC.

Work of the Ethics Committee

The accomplishments of the IEEE Ethics Committee (EC) during its initial three years of operation included implementation of the distribution to members of the ethics code on an annual basis, establishment of a bimonthly ethics column in the Institute, and the development and promulgation of a set of guidelines to assist engineers (this term is intended to include all technical professionals in the areas encompassed by the IEEE) in handling ethics related disputes in a constructive manner. The internet was utilized to establish an EC web site (http://www.ieee.org/committee/ethics) and several on-line forums for discussing ethics related issues. A beginning was made on a project to develop a set of guidelines to supplement the ethics code. Advice and information was supplied to various people both at universities and in industry who were preparing courses or presentations on engineering ethics. More recently, the EC established contact with the Ethics Officer Association (EOA), a group sponsored by industry and comprised of ethics officers of large corporations. Our objective is to find ways in which we can cooperate with the EOA in promoting and encouraging ethical behavior by engineers in industry and to explore the establishments of mechanisms for resolving problems in a cooperative, constructive manner.

A major EC activity was the development of a plan for operating an ethics hotline to provide advice and information for engineers faced with difficult ethics related situations. It was approved by the BoD in November 1995 and went into operation in August 1996. More will be said about this below. Plans for an ethics support fund were also developed to the point where they were placed on the agenda of the BoD, but then certain issues related to taxes were raised and the item was withdrawn pending a satisfactory resolution. by Steve Unger

The history of the EC and the termination of its most successful programs was documented by Dr. Stephan H. Unger, one of its Chairs, in these articles:

The Ethics HOT Line and other Ethics Committee Activities

The Assault on Ethics Support

The Case of the Vanishing Ethics Article

IEEE Has Shown Disregard for Ethical Support

List of Ethics Committee Members, 1991 – 2001; became part of Ethics and Member Conduct Committee

IEEE's Ethics Committee HOT Line, 1996 - 1998

An Ethics Hotline

Ethics HOT Line and other Ethics Committee Activities

The Assault on IEEE Ethics Support and the Ethics HOT Line

As soon as the IEEE Boad/Ex Com terminated the IEEE Ethics HOT Line, the key members of those who operated it (Steve Unger, Walter Elden, Ray Larsen, Mal Benjamin, Joe Herkert, Gerald Engel, Joe Wujik, and others) approached Dr. Caroline Whitbeck, of the Online Engineering and Ethics Center, and proposed for it to take it over. Once it was put into operation, it ran successfully for several years, without incident. Later, it was transferred to the National Academy of Engineering at this location:

National Academy of Engineering Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science

It became ironic that while the IEEE terminated its own Ethics HOT Line, later, the IEEE's Ethics and Member Conduct Committee established a relationship supporting the Online Ethics HOT Line, and provided a link to its WEB page.

Ethics Committee Bi-Monthly Published INSTITUTE Articles

Beginning in 1996, the Ethics Committee began publishing ethics articles in the INSTITUTE on a Bi-Monthly basis. This continuted until it was terminated in 2002. The complete set of published ethics articles are at this link:

Bi-Monthly Ethics Articles Published in the INSTITUTE

It is hoped that this activity will be resumed, as an on-going education tool for the Membership.

The Ethics and Member Conduct Committee 2002 - Present

Around the year 1999-2000, the separate Member Conduct Committee and Ethics Committee, were combined into the one Ethics and Member Conduct Committee, or EMCC, of today. This was intended to improve intra-committee communications and reduced expenses. Here is the link to the present day EMCC:

Today, the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee advises the IEEE Board of Directors on ethics policy and concerns and makes recommendations for educational programs to promote the ethical behavior of members and staff, among other activities.

Vision: A world in which engineers and scientists are respected for their exemplary ethical behavior and the IEEE and its Ethics & Member Conduct Committee are recognized as a major drive in this regard.

Mission: The Ethics and Member Conduct Committee advises the IEEE Board of Directors on ethics policy and concerns as well as fostering awareness on ethical issues and promoting ethical behavior amongst individuals and organizations working within the IEEE fields of interest.

Limits on activities: The Ethics and Member Conduct Committee, which is governed by IEEE Bylaw I-305, shall make recommendations for policies and/or educational programs to promote the ethical behavior of members and staff, and shall consider instituting proceedings, as defined in IEEE Bylaws I-110 and I-111, related to matters of member and officer discipline and requests for support.

Neither the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee nor any of its members shall solicit or otherwise invite complaints, nor shall they provide advice to individuals.

Additionally, the following restriction is contained in 1.4 of the EMCC Operations Manual:

1.4 Limits to Activities IEEE Constitution, Article 1, Section 2

“The IEEE shall not engage in collective bargaining on such matters as salaries, wages, benefits, and working conditions, customarily dealt with by labor unions.”

"The Ethics & Member Conduct Committee shall not be involved in employee-employer disputes".

This second statement in bold above is not actually contained in the IEEE Constitution not in any other Governance Document other than in the EMCC Operations Manual, but instead was a restriction added by the Board of Directors around 2005, but was practiced informally since around 2000, according to previous EMCC and former IEEE Board Member Chair Charles W. Turner in a statement to Walter L. Elden.

IEEE's Position Paper on Ethical Conduct Awareness

This statement says the following:

Upholding IEEE Code of Ethics

All IEEE members are required to uphold the IEEE Code of Ethics as a condition of renewing their membership each year. One of the most important principles enshrined in the Code concerns the conduct of members in carrying out their professional duties. The Code states that IEEE members should maintain the highest possible standards of conduct in dealing with colleagues and subordinates, specifically:

Article 8: to treat fairly all persons regardless of such factors as race, religion, gender, disability, age or national origin.

Article 9: to avoid injury to others, their property, reputation, or employment, by false or malicious actions.

The Ethics and Member Conduct Committee (EMCC) believes that there is a special responsibility placed on IEEE members in leadership roles in their profession. Supervisors, teachers, professors, or those elected as officers in IEEE have an even higher duty to uphold the IEEE Code of Ethics because of the influence they have on students and younger members. This responsibility also extends to:

(1) bringing cases of misconduct by others to the attention of the appropriate authorities, and (2) ensuring that correct procedures, as defined in IEEE Bylaws and Policies for example, are always followed.

The EMCC emphasizes that IEEE is committed to being supportive of any member who acts to uphold the IEEE Code of Ethics. It recognizes that voicing concern about ethical violations could jeopardize a member’s career opportunities. Nevertheless, the EMCC believes that by raising awareness of IEEE’s strong stance on ethical conduct through this Position Paper, its members in industry, academia and elsewhere will be helped to carry out their professional responsibilities in a manner consistent with the highest traditions of IEEE.

For further information on the use and implementation of the IEEE Code of Ethics contact IEEE Ethics and Member Conduct Committee staff at ethics@ieee.org.

NOTE: Commentary on the Above Position Highlighted Paragraph: =

This seems to contradict actual practice of the EMCC, in denying giving both ethics advice and ethical support, as imposed by the Board of Directors, discussed above. On the one hand, the underlined statement professes to support ethical conduct and Members placed in jeopardy for upholding IEEE's Code of Ethics, but on the otherhand, they are restricted by Board Policy in the EMCC Operations Manual from actually offering ethics advice and ethical support.

Past Members of the Member Conduct and Ethics Committees:

Responsibilities of the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee 1978 - Present

As in the matter of a complaint of unethical conduct, this too can involve Employee to Employee, Employee to Employer, Employer to Employer and Employer to Employee situations. The more likely situation will be Employee to Employer of the four. Here, the Employee sees an engineering situation needing correction, brings the matter to his next higher authority but gets a NO response to do anything to correct it, then the Employee may go above this Higher Authority or go outside to Blow the Whistle, which leads to some form or reprisal or termination, thus affecting the Employee’s livelihood, and he/she seeks the IEEE EMCC help to resolve it. This then may lead to the IEEE getting involved in an Employee-Employer type dispute, or at best may only be filing an Amicus Curiae legal brief in any court action, expressing the requirement of the Employee to uphold the IEEE Code of Ethics, but not being an Adversary in the proceedings. The BART Case is an important precedent for this kind of ethical support action by the IEEE, as was the Virginia Edgerton and Salvador Castro cases. At any rate, only professional/ethical issues are involved and are fully authorized to be handled by the EMCC, thus overriding the subject restriction.

IEEE Policies Document

The IEEE Policies Document is found here:

http://www.ieee.org/documents/ieee_policies.pdf

The following is from the Policies document.

“Part B - Form and Contents of the Request for Support.

2. The issue, incident(s), or the matter of ethical principle which the person believes is involved together with the specific provisions of the IEEE Code of Ethics deemed relevant or considered to have precipitated the condition(s) of jeopardy;”

Here in the above statement, it is made clear that the request for support deals with “ethical” and not trade union issues. As this is contained in a document higher than the EMCC Operations Manual where the subject restriction is found; thus it can not override the authority given to the EMCC in the above Policy statement.

“4. A full description of the circumstances, events and facts which relate to the ethical matter for which IEEE support is sought.”

This statement makes it abundantly clear that the EMCC is empowered to deal only with ethical issues, not Trade Union matters, so the restriction statement in the EMCC Operations Manual is not applicable here.

“Part D - Responsibilities of the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee b) send to the employer(s) concerned a letter disclaiming any and all purpose or intent to engage in collective bargaining on behalf of the individual with respect to such matters as salaries, wages, benefits, and working conditions, customarily dealt with by labor unions.”

This is an important waiver statement to be sent to the employer, signed by the requesting Member for support. It makes it very clear that the EMCC does not engage in collective bargaining or trade union matters but says nothing restricting it from handling ethical support requests involving professional/ethical issues between an employee-employer. As this same statement is contained in the EMCC Operations Manual, there is no question that the EMCC has any authority to deal in Trade Union matters, only Professional/Ethical. Therefore, the subject restriction statement in the EMCC Operations Manual is not relevant.

An Open Invitation for the EMCC to Contribute to this IEHR

An Invitation was submitted to the current Chair of the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee, the EMCC, to use this space for contributions from it to inform the Members about its activities, opinions, future directions, etc.

THIS SPACE IS RESERVED FOR USE BY THE ETHICS AND MEMBER CONDUCT COMMITTEE.

RESERVED


Ethics Activities Throughout other IEEE OU's

Now that the Technical Activities Board, the TAB, at its November 2015 meeting, took the leadership role to have SSIT look into IEEE’s history of ethics involvement and to identify gaps needing fixed this places TAB in a great position to do something sooner and hopefully easier than the full IEEE Board would do. Here is how.

First, the TAB/SSIT should recognize that already under TAB is a Committee, called the Conflict Resolution Committee, the TAB CRC, and has within its charter already the handling of ethics conflict matters. Now to just modify its current established charter to add a few more services, could through this avenue, achieve what has been denied the Members now for over 15 years, ethical advice and support. Once the TAB would accept increasing the scope of its own CRC, then it, TAB, being a major component of IEEE that includes all programs of its 45 IEEE Societies and Technical Councils as well as programs of the Technical Activities Board (TAB) and the Technical Activities Department (TAD), would be in the position to exert considerable pressure on the full IEEE Board to correct these restrictions placed on its own EMCC. The following provides the content of the emails I wrote, proposing using the TAB CRC instead of the EMCC, to achieve the two stated goals.

It seems that TAB's Conflict Resolution Committee could be expanded, formalized more, and assigned to the SSIT to lead, resulting in TAB, the major OU in IEEE, being in a great position to provide the desired services directly to Members, as long as the EMCC continues to be restricted from doing likewise . Besides, it already exists under TAB and is empowered to offer both ethics advice and assistance (support), whereas the IEEE Boards have for 15 years forbidden the EMCC from doing both.

This paper details the Charter of TAB's Conflict Resolution Committee:

A Strategy and an Alternative to the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee to Offer Advice and Support.docx see pages 3 - 6

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ARTICLES WRITTEN ABOUT IEEE ETHICS

Engineering Ethics Books Published

Historical Newsletters of the CSIT

We now are fortunate to have almost all of the CSIT Newsletters published between 1972 and 1981, archived on an IEEE Server and saved for historical research about this important time when Professional Activities and Ethical Support became formally established in the IEEE. Much credit for the writings about ethics, BART and ethical support goes to Dr. Stephen H. Unger, now retired from Columbia University.

Here is the main link to these archived Newsletters:

SSIT REPOSITORY OF Archived CSIT Newsletters, 1972-1981

View full index of articles

Articles of interest are listed for these four categories:

A. ETHICAL SUPPORT ARCHIVED ARTICLES

B. MEMBER CONDUCT COMMITTEE ARCHIVED ARTICLES

C. THE BART CASE ARCHIVED ARTICLES

D. THE SSIT BARUS AWARDS ARCHIVED ARTICLES

1974 IEEE SOUTHEASTCON Professional Activities Session

A Historical Note: It is believed that this conference, held in Orlando, Fl during April-May of 1974, set a milestone for IEEE. It was the first to devote a session exclusively to non-technical "professional activities" papers. This became possible when in 1972 the IEEE Membership voted by over 86% to add Professional Activities to its Constitution for the first time, the first Professional Activities Committee was then formed in the IEEE Orlando Section, and its Executive Board approved establishing this Professional Activities session at its Region 3 annual conference.

A. History of the Industry P.E. Exemption In Florida

During IEEE SOUTHEASTCON 1974, my Chairmanship successor of the IEEE Orlando Section Professional Activities Committee, Ted Stefanik, and I met with our former University of Florida Dean of Engineering, Dr. Joseph Weil, who also attended the conference. We wanted to get from him, the history of how the exemption provision in the Professional Engineers licensure law, FS 471, in the state of Florida, came about. Dr. Weil was in the best position to share this history with us, as he, while Dean of Engineering at the University of Florida, where Ted and I had both attended, personally helped establish the Florida Licensing Board of Professional Engineers and was a Founding Member. Further, he was there when the law was changed to remove the requirement for engineers employed in industry to be licensed P.E.s. He told us the following:

The Corporate Telephone and Electric Utilities "exerted enough political weight and got the Legislature to amend Florida Statute 471 to exempt engineers working in industry from the requirement to become licensed P.E.s". The argument used, he told us, was that "they, industry, would be liable for producing unsafe or defective products, and that would protect the public". At the same time, other State Boards were doing the exact same thing.

It is interesting to remember that during the early years of the AIEE, the then Businessmen, did a similar thing when they went to the New York State Supreme Court and got a ruling which changed and relaxed the membership requirements such as to permit them to now become voting members, taking the control of AIEE away from the founding professional engineers, and to direct the AIEE towards their business interests. During my most active times serving on professional and ethics committees of the IEEE, when I was active during the 1980's and 1990's, I continued to see examples of this corporate over influence in IEEE activities (my opinion).

B. Debating Against the P.E. Exemption of Engineers Working in Industry

During the 1970's, I engaged in several debates on the P.E. Industry Exemption of Engineers. Some were done at IEEE meetings and others at NSPE State society meetings in Florida and South Carolina, when I resided and worked there. I always took the side AGAINST the exemption. Most of those I debated, who took the IN FAVOR position, were Managers working in large Fortune 500 companies, one example was the General Electric Company. Both viewpoints were presented with strong convictions. I stressed the points that this be in the interests of business, to show that its engineers in responsible charge held Professional Engineer licenses. Further, being licensed, the PE would be held accountable to his/her licensing Board for upholding and practicing in accordance with one's State legal Professional Code of Conduct/Ethics.

Prior to my engaging in these debates, I had written a few papers on my views towards Professional Engineering licensing, P.E.'s practice in Industry, and upholding both Professional and Legal Codes of Ethics, as follows:

The Dilemma of the Professional Engineer Employed in Industry

Professional Ethics - The Employment of Engineers in Industry, and A Model of the Future

In Industry, the Title Engineer Should Be Issued Only to Licensed Engineers

At one particular debate, held at an IEEE Section meeting in Boston, it became apparent that my opponent had become quite upset hearing my arguments and at one point lost his cool and called me a "Communist" for advocating for industry engineers to hold a valid State Professional Engineers license. He never justified why he chose to label me with that. One possible explanation was that he wanted to advocate his business employer's objective to control the work of engineers, not the State. His/their fear was that to allow engineers in industry to be required to be licensed by their States, would mean they, the engineers, would have a legal obligation to uphold their legal P.E. code of professional conduct/ethics which could at times be at odds with how industry Managers viewed what their priorities should be. Using today's interpretation of the New York law covering what Non Profit Organizations' Directors first loyalty was suppose to be, it could be argued it being against the best interest of the IEEE's members and in favor, instead, of Businesses and their interests first. This position to me seemed to be a modern day repeat of early AIEE Business Leaders takeover from the Founding Engineer Professionals. That, in my opinion, is seen to still exist to this day, as is discussed later in this Repository.

This accusation, I felt was ironic, for this engineer held a Manager position in a large Company, was active at the International level in IEEE, was even a member of the new IEEE Member Conduct Committee, was the recipient later of IEEE awards, and finally, today has an IEEE Award named in his honor. At one particular event, when both he and I each received an IEEE award, that was the last time I saw him, before his death.

Looking back to this debate incident, I see a parallel with events which happened in the early days of the AIEE (discussed at the top of this Repository) when the Business Members wanted and got the power to become members of the Board of Directors and focus AIEE's activities to support what their industries wanted and needed, at the expense of what the early founding member Professionals set out for the AIEE to champion.

Walter L. Elden

Spectrum and INSTITUTE Articles and Papers

NOTE: The Editors of both IEEE's Spectrum and the INSTITUTE publications were invited to submit a list of ethics articles for inclusion in this repository. While waiting to receive responses, a GOOGLE search of both was conducted and a number of the following were found. Additionally, those received from the INSTITUTE Editor are included below too.

The VW Emission Software Deception Scandal

Ethics Articles Published in IEEE's The Institute

Beginning in 1996, the Ethics Committee worked out an arrangement with the INSTITUTE that it, the EC, would share a column on a Bi-monthly basis with the IEEE Women in Engineering, to publish Ethics articles. Steve Unger asked and I wrote the first article, which I titled,

In so doing, later I found that I had established a new definition, which other writers began referring to,

"Ethical Harassment". The first paper to do so was by Caroline L. Herzenberg, titled:

In her paper, she writes:

"The concept of ethical harassment is identified and discussed. It is proposed that we search for societal mechanisms that may lead to some progress in the curtailment of ethical harassment. It is proposed that the right to act ethically should be regarded as a fundamental human and professional right".

Over the next years, through 2001, the INSTITUTE continued to publish these articles about Ethics, until it abruptly terminated them. I had requested for the Member Conduct Committee to provide links to the past written ethics articles, but to this day it still does not. So, I undertook and was able to assemble electronic copies of all published ethics articles and saved them on the IEEE Entity WEB Hosting, or EWH, server. The following link provides the complete saved ethics article links, for viewing:

1996:

1997:

1998:

1999:

2000:

2001:


Beginning around 2002, when the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee was informally restricted from offering both "ethics advice" and "ethical support" to Members, the Bi-Monthly publication of ethics articles in IEEE's INSTITUTE, came to a halt, as was all other forms of ethics programs which during the 1990's had been operated successfully.

This was documented in writings by Steve Unger and Walter Elden, as follows:

IEEE Society and Technology Magazine Ethics articles


Others

Teaching About Ethical Codes and Practices

This section is provided to enable presenting papers, reports, and links dealing with the teaching and educating about ethics, ethics advice and ethical support in engineering. Suggested topics include Role of ABET, Curriculum, Suggested Texts, IEEE Professors Teaching Ethics, etc.

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FUTURE ISSUES IEEE'S ETHICS WILL NEED TO DEAL WITH-Advice, Support and Robotics/AI

This section provides snapshots of activities currently underway which may affect IEEE ethics in the future. This will be an evolving section, subject to changes and updates, as developments occur.

A LETTER TO THE EDITOR

The SSIT/TAB Need to Advocate Revising IEEE Governance Documents to Restore IEEE Ethics Advice and Ethical Support

I am writing to urge for the SSIT/TAB jointly to take the initiative and propose revising IEEE’s Governance Documents to restore back to the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee the ability to provide “ethics advice and ethical support” to IEEE’s Members. Having stated that, “why change”” and “which documents should be changed” both need addressing.

Why Change

During the mid 1970’s when IEEE was wrestling with how to enforce its modern day 1974 revised Code of Ethics, there were two arguments debated. Some members of the Board of Directors only wanted a mechanism for disciplining violations of the Code while members of the United States Activities Committee, USAC, and the Committee on Social Implications of Technology, CSIT, believed that ethical support needed to also be provided to those whose employment was placed in jeopardy for trying to uphold ethical practice. After all, even to this day Article 10 of IEEE’s Code of Ethics states Members (including IEEE’s Board of Directors) must agree “to support” other Members in upholding ethical conduct, as one condition of renewing IEEE membership, annually. These two viewpoints were subsequently combined and codified in IEEE Governance Documents when the Member Conduct Committee was created in February 1978. I, along with Dr Stephen H. Unger and others, supported both viewpoints and developed the USAC proposal leading to creating the MCC.

For the next 20 years, both discipline and ethics advice/support were successfully provided by the MCC and a companion Ethics Committee til 1998. I served on both at the time. Then the IEEE Executive Committee/Board began and systematically killed all of the ethics advice and ethical support services, in effect achieving what Board members of the mid 1970’s really preferred to be the MCC’s role, only disciplining members. Then by 2005, IEEE’s Governance Documents had been revised to codify these restrictions on the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee, the EMCC. Today, the EMCC can only recommend discipline.

Go to this place on the IEEE Ethics History Repository to read the historical account of this:

Ethics Under IEEE-1972 to the Present

Which Documents Should be Changed

Here there is a choice. On the one hand, if Members trust that their Board of Directors will do the right thing in their best interest, including upholding Article 10 “to support” other Members, then revising Governance Documents below IEEE’s Constitution would be sufficient. But on the other hand, as was demonstrated already that prior and til this time, Board Members since 2005 have not done that, then IEEE’s Members need to exercise their right to amend IEEE’s Constitution, to formally codify the needed changes. A similar action was done in 1972 when the Members voted by over 83% YES to amend and added Professional Activities to IEEE for the first time in its then nearly 90 year history. Once codified in the Constitution, no future IEEE Board will have the authority to change it on their own without approval of IEEE’s membership voting their approval to.

Conclusion

I urge the SSIT and TAB to exercise responsible leadership on behalf of Society and the Membership to restore IEEE providing both “ethics advice and ethical support” back again.

Walter L. Elden, P.E. (Ret) IEEE and SSIT Life Senior Member IEEE Member Conduct Committee 1996-1998 w.elden@ieee.org

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Replies to this Letter to the Editor

Dear Walter,

Thank you for keeping me informed about the on-going discussions about ethical support for IEEE members, with which I am in full agreement.

As you probably are aware, there is a Constitutional Amendment that will be on the ballot for all members to consider shortly. I and many of the members in Region 8, are strongly opposed to the proposed changes in the governance structure of IEEE, because we believe that they will produce a diminution of the accountability of the leadership to the membership as a whole, including the neutralisation of the role of the Regional Directors.

In respect of the possibility of strong ethical support for members I believe that there would be less chance of real reform under the proposed structure.

We need to make sure that members understand the full impact of these proposed changes when they vote in a couple of months.

Best regards,

Professor Charles W Turner, FREng, FIET. Emeritus Professor of Electrical Engineering, King's College London Life Fellow IEEE

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Dear Walter,

I am trying to work through this a step at a time. Here is where we are up to:

1. At the November 2015 TAB I raised an issue about what ethics activities TAB and the Societies were undertaking, and whether it was sufficient.

2. With the support of TAB I then circulated a survey to societies to solicit information about their activities.

3. TAB then established the Ethics, Society and Technology initiative (this month), which I am chairing. While most of its initial focus is to encourage a discussion on ethics and the design of artificial intelligence, one of its activities this year is to complete the review of current activities and gaps.

4. Following this, we can come up with proposals on how to address gaps.

I agree with you that there is a gap between the final point on our Code of Ethics and the absence of advice on ethical issues to members, and your suggestions will be considered in working out how to close that gap.

The approach I would like to take is to continue along this path: By the end of the year we will have identified the relevant gaps, and can prepare proposals for 2017, including proposals to amend policies or structures if that is the best way to address any problems.

I would much rather see your letter presented in T&S in the context of what is already happening and how the prospects look. If we aim to include your letter in the December issue we could achieve that.

Regards, Dr Greg Adamson President, IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology +61 423 783 527, http://youtu.be/PFFg1ihv-Oo

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Ethics, Society and Technology Initiative Spoken of by Dr. Greg Adamson, Above

Technology Ethics - Autonomous Devices and Artificial Intelligence

As many of you know, IEEE has been working on a plan for better addressing technology ethics (TechEthics). This began as a response to some recent BoD strategic planning discussions. As a first step, we have asked that forms for approvals, such as in NIC, FDC, and PARs, include sections on TechEthics. On a more substantive note, we have chosen to focus the first TechEthics efforts in the area of autonomous devices/artificial intelligence. Two groups have been created to address the area of Autonomous Systems; they are:

1. TA Ethics, Society & Technology (EST) Program: This group, which will be overseen by an ad hoc committee, will lead efforts to create conversations around TechEthics considerations in a variety of technologies, beginning with autonomous systems. They will strive to broaden the thinking, open up possibilities for solutions, and debate issues, which will help inform the IC group’s push towards consensus. The EST Ad Hoc committee was launched in May and has begun developing technical event programming and planning conversations with other associations in the AI space.

2. SA Industry Connections (IC) group: This group will focus on the creation of standards and consensus agreements and strive to narrow the discussions to create consensus in the marketplace. More mature matters will be directed to this group to address globally open consensus building, producing codes and standards recommendations, and delivering related workshops. We have named the IC group IEEE’s Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in the Design of Autonomous Systems It was launched in April and we are very happy to announce that it has surpassed 100 members, indicating a clear market need. Participants include global thought leaders from industry, academia, NGOs, governmental agencies and International Organizations such as the United Nations and the World Economic Forum.

To date, the Initiative has already produced two proposals for standards projects and by March of 2017 several more will be submitted. The EST has scheduled an AI Association Meeting at IJCAI in July. In addition, EST and Initiative sessions at ECAI in August are being produced.

This TechEthics approach provides a further embodiment of IEEE’s aspiration to advance technology for humanity through frameworks that consider explicitly critical, non-technical dimensions of technology such as ethics. This new area adds to our already strong areas of technology discovery, definition, applications support, and standards, as well as complementing the new policy area. This can be a transformative new narrative for the IEEE, empowering our technical communities to implement methodologies and products resulting from our consensus building efforts to deliver values driven, ethical innovation defining the modern marketplace. Educational opportunities also exist to engage the general public on ethics issues and concerns, offering an additional opportunity for the IEEE. No other organization has the potential to build such a holistic and beneficial story.

Government organizations and global corporations have begun to understand our unique potential and are offering IEEE privileged relationships and financial support. We believe that within a year IEEE will have access to the C-level leadership of the most powerful corporations in the world. We would be pleased to facilitate any discussions about these important developments and milestones at your convenience.

Dated May 22, 2016

For additional information, contact:

Mary Ward-Callan m.ward-callan@ieee.org or Konstantinos Karachalios constantin@ieee.org

Products Produced by this Initiative at the End of 2016

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The purpose of this Initiative is to ensure every technologist is educated, trained, and empowered to prioritize ethical considerations in the design and development of autonomous and intelligent systems.


* View specifics regarding the Mission and deliverables for the Initiative
* See a list of The Initiative’s Executive and other Committees
* Learn more from Frequently Asked Questions


Ethically Aligned Design

Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Wellbeing with Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems represents the collective input of over one hundred global thought leaders from academia, science, government and corporate sectors in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, ethics, philosophy, and policy.

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"NEW 2017 IEEE ETHICS INITIATIVES"

This presents a contribution to the IEHR by Dr. Greg Adamson, IEEE Technical Activities Society on Social Implications of Technology President reporting on new initiatives begun in IEEE in the Ethics area.

Walter,

Thanks for your continued focus on this. We now have several significant activities across IEEE (and I am aware of several other smaller initiatives):


  • A new TAB ad hoc, Design for Ethics, for 2017, continuing the work of the task force
  • A Standards Association initiated Global Initiative on ethics and AI, which has released an early draft of a major document
  • A Standards Association standard on designing ethics, P7000
  • The two-yearly IEEE Ethics conference is going annually, with the next one being organised by the South East Michigan Section in November
  • TAB has established TechEthics, which has received funding from the IEEE Foundation to hold a workshop later in the year
  • There is discussion of setting up a Board of Directors ad hoc on ethics

I am involved in some way in all of these, and I am also on EMCC for 2017. With so much happening the most important thing is to get some coordination happening. I am letting everyone know about the History Ethics Repository, and so you should start to see material being contributed in coming months.

Amidst all of this I haven't forgotten your key point, that under our Code of Ethics we have an obligation to assist members in meeting their ethical obligations, but EMCC is bound not to provide advice. I hope to make progress on this in 2017.

You may be interested to know that a White House co-organized event on AI in 2016 specifically proposed that IEEE and ACM review our Codes of Ethics (and AAAI create one) in order to reflect issues raised by AI. Search on IEEE at:


Regards, Greg

Dr Greg Adamson

Principal, Digital Risk Innovation

Chair, IEEE Design for Ethics Ad Hoc

+61 423 783 527

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FUTURE ROBOTS:

Can They be Taught Ethics, Moral Reasoning, and Should We Trust Them?

IEEE Robotics and Automation Society-RAS

IEEE SPECTRUM SPECIAL REPORT: Trusting ROBOTS

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

DRIVERLESS CARS AND OTHER VEHICLES

Social, Safety, Ethics, Legislation and Other Issues

Technologies

Cars Under Development


Manufacturing Applications

Racing Cars

ROBOTIC DRONES

AUTONOMOUS MEDICAL DEVICES AND APPLICATIONS

ROBOTIC APPLICATIONS IN MANUFACTURING

POLICE USE OF ROBOTS TO KILL

MILITARY APPLICATIONS OF AUTONOMOUS ROBOTIC SYSTEMS

ROBOTIC CODE OF ETHICS AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

GLOBAL ETHICAL AND MORAL IMPLICATIONS

RIGHTS OF ROBOTS AND AUTONOMOUS MACHINES


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On IEEE Advising and Supporting Ethics for Future Robotic Designers - What Should Its Role Be?

As the IEEE delves into the new area of Robots and Autonomous Systems, a pertinent question needing to be considered is the title of this section. If since the early 2000 period, IEEE has restricted its Ethics and Member Conduct Committee from providing "ethics advice" and "ethical support" to its Members, will this continue to remain its policy when Robots and Autonomous Systems are being designed and the designers come to IEEE seeking guidance on Robotic Ethics? Will there be new Codes of Ethics, but in the future addressing these issues? What guidance, guidelines, panel of experts, etc will be provided to these new designers? Here, I will attempt to envision some ethical situations these future designers are likely to face, with the goal to stimulate thinking now about them and to invite commentary for adding to this Ethics History Repository.

Some Envisioned Robotic Designers' Ethics Issues, Situations and Dilemmas

Will the IEEE need a new code of ethics covering robotics engineering?

It doesn't appear a new robotics code of ethics for engineers can be as simple as our current 10 article one is. If that is correct, it seems that there then needs to be a set of guidelines comprehensively guiding the designer on how to apply these new rules of ethical engagement for autonomous systems and robotic machines. Additionally, it seems that in this new area of intense complexity of ethics, that there ought to be a panel of robotic ethics experts or panels, available and assembled in IEEE which the designers could access. From them they could seek getting guidance, interpretation and directions for how to apply these new rules of ethical conduct.

If in today's much simpler world of ethics, prior to robotic ethics, if as has been shown that the IEEE will not allow its flagship Ethics and Member Conduct Committee, the EMCC, to offer ethics advice or ethical support to its rank and file Members, what might it do during the more complex and far-reaching robotics ethics era that it surely will face in the future?

It seems that the decision-making for how much intelligence to provide and instill in these systems is really going to be in the hands of the designers and it's going be very complex and therefore it seems that they are going to be at more risk for conflicts with their employer over matters of who is responsible for placing what logic or accomplish decision-making in these new machines, in cases of a malfunction an accident or even death. Additionally there will be the legal facet of who is responsible for product liability, when things done by the robot goes wrong and does harm. Will the IEEE be ready to assist one of its Members in such situations?

The IEEE leadership may face an even greater challenge of supporting it's designers, on the one hand, which make up the vast majority of its membership,) versus supporting business owners, directors, industry leaders, corporate entrepreneurs . It therefore may have a dilemma of deciding which sphere of membership it is going to really support; employee Members or Business/Owners Members. While it is not clearly known under what employment laws and rules engineers outside of the United States are engaged by, for certain within the United States they are engaged under an "at-will employment" doctrine which basically states that legally engineer employees can be fired or terminated for any reason whatsoever, morally right or morally wrong. Given this dilemma of engineers employed this way in the United States, it just seems that they will even more so need access to advice, guidelines and where to find how to apply these new robotic ethics standards.

As discussed in an earlier section above on the future directions and issues facing IEEE in the robotics and AI ethics area, the Society on Social Implications of Technology, SSIT, under Greg Adams, it's President, has the lead in this new endeavor under the Technical Activities Board, TAB. They are addressing this area of autonomous systems ethics and will have a very challenging role of how to set out the applications of that for IEEE in the ethics and ethics support area.

WLE

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First Hand IEEE Histories

My Letter to the Editor, titled "Restore IEEE's Ability to Provide Ethics Advice and Ethical Support"

Herein is provided the Letter I wrote to the Editor of The Institute on restoring IEEE's giving ethics advice and ethical support to its Members, since it was taken away in 2005 by action of the IEEE Board of Directors. Then, following the letter, is the history on this dual restriction, how it came about, what it means, and where it violates IEEE Governance Documents, and New York Law governing duties of the Directors of Non For Profit Organizations, which IEEE is one.

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September 2016, p. 15

My Letter to the Editor


My Experience Serving on the Member Conduct Committee - by Walter L. Elden

During the final meeting of the IEEE Board of Directors in 1995, Dr. Steve Unger, then Chair of the IEEE Ethics Committee, succeeded in getting me appointed to a normal 5 year term to serve on the Member Conduct Committee, which he, others and I, worked in 1977 to get established. I replaced a long serving Member, who was then appointed as a non-voting Consulting Member. Upon joining the Committee at its first meeting, it was apparent that some of the other Members did not like my appointment and showed it in ways. Further, ever since the first Ethical Support case of Virginia Edgerton back in 1978, there basically had been nothing heard from the MCC for the next nearly 20 years until I joined them. Steve Unger and I were well aware of this "inactivity" and concerned us.

During my first year, 1996, I was assigned by the MCC Chair to investigate several requests which came into to the Committee, some asking for advice on ethical matters, or others requesting help on matters which were solely outside of ethics, which had to be explained to them. Then I was apponted to serve as the MCC to Ethics Committee Liaison, becoming a non-voting member of the Ethics Committee, chaired by Steve Unger. That committee, Ethics, was comprised of a number of well qualified IEEE Members, representing the USA, Germany and India.They were working to establish an Ethics HOT Line, a Legal Defense Support Fund for Members placed in ethical jeopardy, among other business. On the MCC, I began to become "proactive" in support of the rank and file "practicing engineer Member of IEEE". When cases came into the Committee, I was supportive of those seeking ethical support for the most case, and this advocacy began to rattle most of the long serving MCC Members. I tried to maintain a supportive role with the then MCC Chair, then he explained to me he was resigning to spend more time in his outside religious work at home. His replacement as Chair was a long term MCC Member, a former IEEE Regional Director, and a very conservative protector of the Engineer/IEEE Management perspective.

Early in my First Year, I requested the MCC Staff Member to provide me with any papers, reports or other data from previous MCC Committees. One document was an unapproved Draft of a set of Whistleblower Avoidance Guidelines, prepared by Steve Under, then Chair of the separate Ethics Committee. Apparently, this Draft had been in the hands of prior MCC Committees, which did nothing to advance it. So I gave it life, submitted it to the full MCC and got its approval. It was then forwarded on to the Ethics Committee, which today has a link to it, but when you click on it, you are taken to an unrelated WEB site. This I have found has been a common practice of the new Ethics and Member Conduct Committee even today.

The link to the current published Guidelines is not on an IEEE EMCC WEB site but on a site located at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

The new MCC Chair and I had different perspectives as to the true role of the MCC and how much it was intended to be proactive in supporting the ethical engineer placed in employment jeopardy. This came to a boiling point, when I became active supporting the new Ethics Committees' Ethics HOT Line, in my role as MCC-Ethics Committee Liaison. There I was one of the volunteers who would be given a new ethics request inquiry from a member to look into it and make a determination of its validity in the form or either a complaint alleging misconduct or a request for ethical support.

During the period in which the Ethics Hotline was first proposed, approved, established, operated, and then terminated, I was active in both the IEEE Ethics Committee and the IEEE Member Conduct Committee (MCC) from 1996-1998. I was one of those operating the Hotline, responding to inquiries from IEEE members. What concerned me then and subsequently, was the negative environment that existed on the IEEE Board of Directors and the Member Conduct Committee, to thwart supporting engineers placed in jeopardy for trying to uphold and practice ethically, for operating and use of the Hotline by IEEE members, and the pressure applied to proactive ethics IEEE activities by members. One example of the pressure applied to me is discussed next.

One important inquiry I handled dealt with IEEE Member and a licensed Professional Engineer, Salvador Castro, alleging that a defect in an infant respiratory device, which under certain circumstances, might cause serious injury or death. Having brought this to his employer's and an outside Governmntal Agency's attention, he was terminated, and now was requesting IEEE Ethical Support. We had an IEEE Member medical expert in this field look into the technical claims and he concurred with the IEEE Member's concerns. This matter was then referred to the MCC, to take over it as a formal "request for ethical support" case.

At the San Francisco Meeting where the MCC held a meeting, I, in my MCC-Ethics Committee Liaison Role, presented

on behalf of the Ethics Committee, discussed its background, what I had learned about it, what the IEEE Member Expert had concluded, and was then asked by the new MCC Chair, to "recuse myself from the case". I was shocked by this, but not surprised by this Chair. I immediately refused. This led to a heated exchange, which led to our going into an "Executive Session" to air this out. Afterwards, I remained active with the others and we worked on this Request for Ethical Support case. The bottom line resulted in our recommending to the IEEE Board of Directors that this case had merit and therefore some form of ethical support should be given. The Board of Directors voted to provide support once the engineer's case had progressed further to a certain legal point. We believed this was the first Ethics Support case the Board had acted on since the 1978 Virginia Edgerton case, nearly 20 years previous and we felt another milestone in IEEE ethical support had been reached. Later, the SSIT awarded Salvador Castro its Carl Barus Award for serving the public interest.

With my knowledge of designing WEB pages, I took the initiative and created the first WEB pages for the MCC and the Ethics Committee. These enabled IEEE Members world wide to now easily access valuable information letting many know for the first time that there even was a 20 year old MCC, where they could find the IEEE Code of Ethics, what IEEE By-Law, Policy and Procedures existed for filing an Ethics Complaint or Requesting Employment Ethical Support, that there was an IEEE Ethics HOT line where they could get advice, etc.

In the Annual Year End MCC Report made to the IEEE Board of Directors by this same MCC Chair, he wrote that I had been the cause of a prior MCC Chair to resign from the Committee because my pro activeness had affected him too much. I was never told of this by the resigned MCC Chair, as his explanation to me for resigning was that he wanted to spend more time in his religious work, outside of the IEEE. This report about me to the IEEE Board of Directors was a Bogus charge, but was never cleared up.

At the start of my third year on the MCC, Martha Sloan, former IEEE President, Martha Sloan, who had become the first female IEEE President, was appointed the new MCC Chair. I felt this was a positive and welcomed change. Also, Wally Read, another former IEEE President, Wally Read, who later Chaired the Ethics Committee, and was active on the IEEE Nominations and Appointments Committee, became a MCC Member that same year on which I continued to serve. When he was IEEE President the previous year, he would also sit in on meetings of the Ethics Committee.

Our new MCC Chair, proposed an initiative, which I fully supported, that would, when approved, provide an Ethics Conflict Resolution Services, or ECRS.

She gave us the framework of what she envisioned. I immediately volunteered to become the Editor, to lead the effort to flush out from her ideas to a full document which could go forward to the IEEE Board of Directors for action. I solicited and received inputs from MCC Members and prepared a document which described what the service could consist of and was ready to go forward for presentation to the full IEEE Board of Directors for its consideration at the end of my 3rd Year on the MCC.

I witnessed, from my Professional "pro activeness" viewpoint, a disturbing statement expressed by the then MCC Member and former IEEE President, Wally Read. In the context of both what a IEEE By-Law created to "provide support to ethical engineers placed in employment jeopardy for upholding the IEEE Code of Ethics", he stated with conviction, that he believed:

"the IEEE should not be involved in engineer employee-employer conflicts".

Now, if the IEEE were to have adopted that position, I did not see how it could carry out the provision in the By-Laws to provide Ethical Support to Engineersand the ethics support task assigned to the Member Conduct Committee would have its authority to act removed. During our mutual interactions on the Committee, it was becoming apparent to me that our viewpoints towards the role of the IEEE in supporting ethical engineers placed in employment jeopardy, were opposite each other. He was expressing the "business person's view", while I the "practicing engineer's view".

Looking back to that time, and his Pro-Business viewpoint which he expressed, it has now become clear that his position was carried into the Board of Directors, leading to a number of efforts which systematically began to and did terminate the key ethical support programs and Committee Members, that had been put into place, but more on this later.

In line with my Proactive actions in the Professional area, and having been a co-founder of the Member Conduct Committee proposal in 1977, I recognized that in the next year of 1998, the MCC would be 20 years old, but no public document or news article had been published about it or its operations, since the then one and only Ethical Support Case, the Virginia Edgerton 911 matter. So, I undertook the initiative and wrote an article, which the Ethics Committee had published in the INSTITUTE as one of its Bi-Monthly Ethics articles. It was titled,

Steve Unger wrote about this:

After Virginia Edgerton requested support, SSIT’s predecessor, the IEEE Committee on Social Implications of Technology (CSIT), completed its investigation of that case and presented its report to the IEEE Executive Committee. They turned the case over to the newly formed MCC which reviewed the CSIT’s work and issued a report paralleling the conclusions embodied in the CSIT report.

Arguments from CSIT persuaded the IEEE to authorize publication of the reports - although CSIT’s newsletter is the only IEEE periodical that printed them in full. There was no follow up of the case by the MCC. Since then, the MCC has not publicly reported on any other case. On one other occasion it recommended support for an engineer, but the IEEE Executive Committee rejected the idea. In only a very few other instances (most notably the Heneage case) has the MCC provided support of any kind to an ethical engineer in trouble."

Its interesting to note that up to the 1998 publication of this article, no other case than the 1978 Edgerton one had ever been published, in spite of pleas recommending this be done, by the following:

  • 10 Annual MCC Reports to the Board of Directors
  • All 4 of the Five-Year Review Committees

In which each stressed the need to publicize the existence and purposes of the MCC to the IEEE Membership and to publicize closed cases, protecting confidentiality.

Later, the worst example of pressure to shut me up was when my final two years on the MCC were abruptly terminated, when in December 1998 I was informed that I was being replaced and would not complete my five-year term. I do not believe up until then that this had ever happened to a prior MCC member. It is ironic to now look back and realize that it was Steve Unger and I, with others, who, in the Spring of 1977, drafted the initial two sets of procedures forcreating the Member Conduct Committee, and that I was the one whom the IEEE United States Activities Board President John Guarrera asked and I did go to the San Diego meeting of the IEEE Board of Directors and presented these proposed procedures to them for adoption. Later, they were merged with another set developed independently by then IEEE member Jim Fairman, an Engineer/Attorney, into what created the Member Conduct Committee in February 1978, nearly 50 years ago now.

During the period in which the Ethics Hotline was first proposed, approved, established, operated, and then terminated, I was active in both the IEEE Ethics Committee and the IEEE Member Conduct Committee (MCC) from 1996-1998 in a Liaison role. I was one of those operating the Hotline, responding to inquiries from IEEE members. I was then serving a five-year appointment on the MCC, starting in 1996, thanks to Steve Unger’s effort to get me appointed by the IEEE Board of Directors. We attended several meetings of the Sections Congress at which we held an Ethics session. I spoke about the Member Conduct Committee and its procedures for both Ethical Discipline and Ethical Support. I was maintaining the Ethics Committee WEB page also during this period.

In 1996, Dr. Steve Unger invited me to be a member of the 1st Ethics Roundtable and that IEEE Spectrum would be there to publish an article on the event, which they published in the December 1996 issues, titled

I was excited of the prospect. Having just made contact with Charles A. "Bud" Eldon, a Past IEEE President, we exchanged a few family stories and suddenly realized we must be related, having ancestors from the same birthplace in the Bahamas Islands. As his experience represented the highest Management levels in both his former employer's business (Hewlett Packard) and IEEE President, I felt he would articulate the business side whereas some of the other participants and myself would represent the practicing engineer employee. Steve agreed and he was invited and participated.

Rights and Responsibilities of "At-Will" Engineers Working in Industry

Around 2000, I undertook on my on initiative, to develop a statement on the Rights and Responsibilities of Engineers working in industry. Yes there were Codes of Ethics and Professional Responsibilities, and there were Guidelines for the Professional Employment of Engineers, but what about a statement of their rights and responsibilities? I found 2 papers which I considered the beginning of such a document, by Whitelaw and Flores. I found the paper by Flores, titled The Professional Rights of Engineers and tried to build upon what he established as a beginning statement. So, I found the worldwide Declaration of Human Rights document and started from there as a template.

I submitted my statement to the NSPE, which then published a narrative on its ethics WEB titled "Ethical Rights and Responsibilities of Practicing Engineers" . After this, I found that a University in Brussels had published it on its Ethics Course WEB and was using it.

DISCUSSION-Engineers, as professionals, are held accountable, and therefore, responsible for practicing in accordance with established engineering codes of ethics. If a licensed Professional Engineer, these codes are part of the licensing law. If unlicensed, these codes are promulgated by one's engineering professional society. Holding engineers responsible is proper, if the public's health, safety and welfare are to be protected from defects in the products and systems designed by engineers. On the other hand, in order to be able to practice ethically, and to be held accountable either to the legal or a society's code, as professionals, engineers must be conferred certain rights, or, freedoms of independence to practice, free from coercion, harassment or wrongful discharge, to balance these imposed responsibilities. Based on this premise, this document presents a declaration of rights of engineers, focusing primarily upon situations where the engineer is employed under the "at-will" doctrine. The declared engineers' rights have been based upon documented experience, conflict cases and written works of learned engineer professionals and scholars on this subject. This declaration is intended to have application to all types of engineers and scientists and to those practicing either within the United States or Internationally.

In the case of engineers engaged as employees by some of the subsequent established business and manufacturing corporations, on the one hand they are held ethically responsible by their professional society's code of ethics to "protect the public's health, welfare and safety", while being afforded under the law little or [http://www.rbs2.com/atwill.htm no protections from at-will termination by their employers]. Further, as nearly all Professional Engineer licensing laws provide that there is an "industry exemption" from those laws, employee engineers engaged in industry have no recourse to these regulatory bodies either when their employment is threatened as they attempt to "protect the public", in opposition to some wish or dictate from their employer to the contrary. Outside of the United States this is not the case, as most practicing engineers, both in industry and not, are required to be licensed. This imbalance in power works against the ethical engineer, bent on practicing in conformance with established codes of ethics, and creates a protective void in the attempt by engineers to "protect the public" through practice as employee professionals.

Recently, some courts have begun to apply the "public policy" rule in "wrongful discharge" cases. There, the court may rule that where a professional refuses to perform an action which would violate some public policy provision of law, rule and in some rare instances of codes of ethics, then this would provide a basis to overrule the "at-will employment" law, thus protecting the professional from termination. However, many courts are in general reluctant to apply this broadly as they considers it infringing upon the legislative function to make laws. Ultimately, it will be up to the individual state legislatures to enact laws to this effect.

Therefore, the time has arrived when it is deemed necessary to proclaim and document that engineers have certain professional rights, which employers, other employees, their professional societies, the P.E. licensing boards, the public and the courts should recognize and uphold. This Universal Declaration of Engineers' Rights document is just such a declaration which spells out these rights and enumerates various causes under which they have become necessary to be proclaimed.

Here is a paper I wrote about why engineers employed under the "terminable-at-will" employment doctrine, need ethics advice and ethical support:

Why Engineers Need Ethics Advice and Ethical Support When Engaged as At-Will Employees

SUMMARY OF THE PAPER

This article is intended to provide a valuable input to the TAB/SSIT Task Force, set up to look into IEEE’s involvement in ethics and gaps which may exist and need to be fixed (1). In this article, I cite essays of law written by Dr. Ronald B. Standler, attorney in Massachusetts and consultant and Senior Member of IEEE, now retired, which provide an excellent detailed basis of understanding of how most engineers are employed; mostly with little or no protections to practice ethically. His essays explain an important part of the law, under which many of IEEE Members are employed under the “at-will employment doctrine” and wrongful discharge. Under this law, an employee may be terminated/fired for any reason, just or unjust, moral or immoral, ever since the late 19th century in the USA.

The at-will law in its rawest form provides little or no protection to the employed engineer, but a new concept, the “public policy exception to the rule”, is beginning to provide some areas of relief. In this article, it is shown how IEEE in the BART case took advantage of this public policy exception and in doing so established a potential landmark basis for future IEEE support of ethical engineers threatened or terminated from their employment under the at-will law. This will provide to the Task Force access to the needed legal understanding to better comprehend the ethical and employment dilemma faced by IEEE Members when they are employees of and practice through an organization under the at-will law.

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Background Of The Restrictions On The EMCC - A Personal Account of Walter Elden

I first became aware of and read about the subject restrictive statement on a Power Point Slide of former 2002-03 EMCC Chair, Charles Turner. I was quite taken back by it, but not surprised by it, considering earlier similar IEEE actions which systematically reduced IEEE commitment to ethical support of its Members, beginning around 1997 while I served on the Member Conduct Committee and was its Liaison to its Ethics Committee, both til the end of 1998.

When I was serving my 3rd year on the then Member Conduct Committee in 1998, co-Member and former IEEE President Wallace Read verbally expressed that exact statement to the full Committee. At the time, since it was expressed in and to the Member Conduct Committee, it seemed to me to mean he wanted IEEE to “not get involved and provide” any support to members placed in employment jeopardy for upholding the IEEE Code of Ethics in their place of employment. Coincidently, at the same time, IEEE had already begun the process of doing precisely that and continued so, until for all practical purposes, the “ethical support” provision in the IEEE By-Laws became non-existent. Since then, I have wondered if Wally Read was the author of the restriction or was just one of several of other IEEE leaders then, who advocated and then acted upon writing it into the EMCC Operations Manual.

In my personal opinion, I feel these reductions in ethical support and adding this EMCC restriction, was an IEEE Pro-Employer/Business set of actions, to the detriment of the IEEE Member employees, and could well be agued violated Article 10 of the IEEE Code of Ethics, wherein it states:

10. to assist colleagues and co-workers in their professional development and to support them in following this code of ethics.”(emphasis added).

Further, it could additionally be considered as a possible Conflict of Interest, wherein the business interests of an IEEE Member were placed first to that of the overall professional interests and well being of the IEEE Members. During my 3 year term on the MCC, 1996-98, I had never heard of, been told of or read about this restriction. The earliest dated written record I have been able to find is the slide of Charles Turner, which is dated 12-12-2008. He Chaired the EMCC 2002-2003.

Charles Turner’s slides in question are at this location: http://web.eecs.umich.edu/~aey/eng100/lectures/pdfshort/ethicslecture.pdf

Since finding his slide, I searched and found it in the EMCC Operations Manual, that had been updated February 2009 and approved by the IEEE Board of Directors.

In the EMCC Operations Manual is found the subject restriction, stated as follows:

“1.4 Limits to Activities

IEEE Constitution, Article 1, Section 2

“The IEEE shall not engage in collective bargaining on such matters as salaries, wages, benefits, and working conditions, customarily dealt with by labor unions.” '''

The Ethics & Member Conduct Committee shall not be involved in employee-employer disputes.”

The 2009 IEEE Ethics and Member Conduct Committee Operations Manual, which can be reached at this link:

http://www.ieee.org/documents/emcc_opm_feb09.pdf

It states that:

“The Ethics & Member Conduct Committee shall not be involved in employee-employer disputes.

This restriction was at the end of Para. 1.4 Limits of Activities, (following the prohibition there against engaging in' “collective bargaining on such matters as salaries, wages, benefits, and working conditions, customarily dealt with by labor unions').

Recently I was informed by Senior IEEE Staff Manager Cindy Poko that the restriction was first approved by the Board of Directors in 2005. But as reported previously, former IEEE President Wallace Read, who was then on the Member Conduct Committee, expressed this viewpoint to the full Committee in 1998. That was the first I had ever heard such a restriction stated by an IEEE official. Further, and this is the most disturbing revelation, she further advised me that this restriction “applies to both Trade Union and Professional Activities Disputes”. This Position Statement disputes the validity of that claim.

To recap, when I served my last year on the Member Conduct Committee in 1998, Wallace Read, a co-Member of the MCC and former IEEE President, said to the Committee:

“I do not believe the IEEE should be involved in employee-employer ethical disputes”.

Finally, it wasn’t until 2005, as I was told, that this view became approved by the IEEE Board as the subject restriction currently placed on the EMCC. However, former EMCC Committee Chair, Charles Turner, informed me in September 2015, that around the 1999-2001 period, when he was a MCC Member, Staff member Lyle Smith would brief the new committee on IEEE policy on ethics, including the restriction concerning employee-employer relations. Apparently, while this was the practice then prior to 2005, it was not an approved policy of the IEEE Board until 2005.

During the 1997-98 period, just prior to this unofficial restriction going into effect upon the EMCC, there had become a pattern of several key ethics support services becoming terminated by the IEEE. Up until then, each had operated effectively and without any problems, such as the Ethics HOT Line, a Legal Support Fund, and the removal of key Pro Ethics Support members from the Member Conduct and the Ethics Committees, such as Steve Unger, Ray Larsen, Walter Elden, and others.

Steve Unger wrote about these events in his papers titled:

  • The Assault on IEEE Ethics Support (in 1999) at this WEB location:

http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=4274770

  • The Case of the Vanishing Ethics Article (in 2008) at this WEB location:

http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=4538973

I wrote a supporting Letter to the Editor backing up Unger’s remarks in what was titled:

  • IEEE Has Shown Disregard Towards Proactive Ethics Activities (in 2008) at this WEB location

http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=4623819

From the time of the creation of the Member Conduct Committee in 1978 until this restriction in the 1999-2005 period, there was never such an official policy of denial of ethical support for IEEE Members. Whether the addition of this restriction upon the EMCC was a continuation and the final straw of the other cut backs in ethical support programs and services, is left to the reader to decide.

The final ethical support measure the IEEE shelved was a proposed Ethics Conflict Resolution Service, discussed next.

Beginning around the time that IEEE started shutting down the existing ethical support services provided by way of the MCC/EMCC to its members, another restriction came into effect which prohibited the EMCC from giving advice to individuals.

This restriction is found on the EMCC WEB site, at:

http://www.ieee.org/about/ethics/ethics_mission.html

as well as in By-Law statement I-305 Para 4. “Limits on activities

The Ethics and Member Conduct Committee, which is governed by IEEE Bylaw I-305, shall make recommendations for policies and/or educational programs to promote the ethical behavior of members and staff, and shall consider instituting proceedings, as defined in IEEE Bylaws I-110 and I-111, related to matters of member and officer discipline and requests for support.

Neither the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee nor any of its members shall solicit or otherwise invite complaints, nor shall they provide advice to individuals.” (Emphasis added)

It was not always the case that advice in ethical matters was not given to IEEE Members from either the existing Ethics and Member Conduct Committee or the prior Ethics Committee. During the 1996-98 period of the EC, when it successfully operated its Ethics HOT Line, the receiving of inquiries, requests for assistance and clarifying the meaning of the Code of Ethics in various specific situations, was the norm. I, along with other volunteers, received and handled these requests. We routinely advised the Member on the specific ethical matter they were concerned with. Some, like the Salvador Castro matter, eventually resulted in a full ethical support by the MCC and the Board of Directors. It was just a fundamental thing to do in those matters; to provide ethical advice.

While I served on the Member Conduct Committee, 1996-1998, I witnessed a top industry executive and former IEEE President state to the MCC that "he believed that the IEEE should not come between an employee engineer and his/her employer on ethical matters". That viewpoint essentially gutted the "ethical support" provision in IEEE By Law 112 and the second mandate to the Member Conduct Committee, to "provide support to engineers placed in employment jeopardy for ethical matters". And what followed over the next few years was the implementation of that viewpoint, causing the IEEE to go backwards and not forward in the areas of ethical support and professionalism, in my opinion. More about this follows below.

The two problems summarized previously, eventually, in my opinion, led to the IEEE withdrawing already established and operational resources in 1998 in support of ethical engineers who found themselves placed in employment jeopardy. The most important of these services which was terminated, was the operation of an Ethics HOT Line, wherein engineers could call in and receive advisory help. In some of these situations, the help led to referral to the IEEE's Member Conduct Committee, MCC, set up in 1978 to both discipline its unethical members, and to provide support to those placed in ethical jeopardy in their employment. Further, many of the key members of the MCC and Ethics Committees, who were Proactive in Ethics and Professionalism, were removed from their positions, and a reversal in promoting ethical support and professionalism began.

As this restriction I have discussed is contained in the EMCC Operations Manual, it is a Level 4 document in IEEE Governance, below in hierarchy of the Policies Manual, at Level 3, which is below the By-Laws, at Level 2, which is below the Constitution, the top most Level 1, which itself is under the Certificate of Incorporation, as far as precedence is concerned. An important paragraph in the Policies Manual, under the heading IEEE GOVERNMENT makes it very clear that a lower level document statement CAN NOT negate or over ride one in a higher document, which is the case here.

During my final year serving on the Member Conduct Committee in 1998, Martha Sloan, a Past IEEE President, was our Chair. And, another Past IEEE President, Wallace Read, was also on the Committee. She envisioned a new service to be provided to Members, which would be for the purpose of trying to resolve a potential ethical conflict situation, involving an employee with another employee, or with an employer, most likely. She called it the Ethics Conflict Resolution Service, or ECRS. She outlined its elements and how it could operate. The Committee received it positively and gave her its support. There were no objections voiced.

I volunteered to become the Editor to prepare the set of procedures for proposing the new ECRS to the Board for consideration and adoption. Over the next several months, I submitted drafts to the Committee, received their comments, incorporated them and advanced the procedure to where it was a final DRAFT, ready to be submitted to the Board for consideration.

Here is what the Ethics Conflict Resolution Service, ECRS, consisted of:

Elements of the Ethics Conflict Resolution Service were:

  1. Provide Education to the Members
  2. Interpret applicable IEEE Governing Documents
  3. Hold Face-to-Face Meetings with Those Charging or Asking for Help
  4. Provide a Sounding Board Function, Electronic or Hard Copy Media Assistance
  5. Provide a Third Party Hearing Panel of Experts or Peer Review
  6. Whistleblower Avoidance Advice
  7. Mediation or Arbitration Service
  8. Membership in and Assistance from the Ethics Officers Association

It should be evident from this list of envisioned services that the prohibition to the giving of ethical advice to the Members was not even a consideration. Further, these services would have been in addition to what the IEEE Ethics HOT Line had already been providing, successfully, and without any incidents, until it was terminated by the IEEE Ex Com in that same year, 1998.

At the end of my 3rd year serving on the MCC, without warning, I was informed that I was being replaced and would not serve the final 2 years of my appointed 5 year term. Further, it was learned later into the next year, after making an inquiry to Martha Sloan, the one who proposed creating the Ethics Conflict Resolution Service, that the DRAFT Proposed ECRS never was submitted to the IEEE Board for consideration by the new 1999 MCC.

It was then after that period, that the subject restriction on the EMCC to “not give ethical advice” to Members went into effect and still exists today, as reported above. That restriction should be challenged by the Members and efforts made to get it rescinded. Further, Martha Sloan’s envisioned Ethics Conflict Resolution Service should be given a second serious consideration. I feel fortunate for having saved my notes from the 1998 ECRS Draft, so I was able to report on its content above herein for posterity.

Oral histories

This section is reserved to provide personal Oral Histories and experiences dealing with ethics in engineering.

Inter Engineering Society Cooperation

This section is provided to enable other Engineering Societies ethics practices to be shared herein.

Diverse Regional Cultural Ethical Practices

This section is intended to show how ethics, ethics advice and ethical support has variations and cultural differences, depending upon IEEE's worldwide 10 Regions and many Sections.

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2016 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program

Ethics and Law Activities

Center of Science, Policy and Society Programs

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COMMENTS AND OPINIONS INVITED HERE

Here authors and/or viewers may offer feedback about the Repository, its contents, IEEE practices, and different points of view

Why And How This IEEE Ethics History Repository Came Into Being

When I became aware that IEEE's Board of Directors had added a one line Restriction into the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee's Operating Manuel, which read, as follows

"The Ethics & Member Conduct Committee shall not be involved in employee-employer disputes"

I decided to look into this, as I knew that it had not been IEEE's policy to restrict that from 1975 til at least 1998.

While conducting research on this and IEEE's general ethics history, I came across a wealth of papers, books, WEB sites, etc, which to me were quite valuable and it did not make sense that others doing similar research would have to repeat that laborious task. Recently, I proposed the establishing of an IEEE Ethics History Repository, which led to the establishing of this IEHR.

I am hopeful my proposal and its implementation into reality, will be appreciated by those who follow me.

Walter L. Elden, P. E. (Ret), April 2, 2016

IEEE and SSIT Life Senior Member

IEEE Region 3, Daytona Beach, Fl Section

w.elden@ieee.org

Where EMCC's Dual Restrictions Violate IEEE Governance Documents

Where the IEEE's Restrictions Against Ethics Advice and Ethical Support Violate IEEE's Governing Documents:

  • NY Non Profit Corporate Directors duties
  • IEEE Constitution
  • IEEE Bylaws
  • IEEE Policies
  • EMCC OPERATING MANUAL

This section addresses the Governance documents from the top most New York State law for Non Profit Organizations, down to the EMCC Operations Manual, which is where the subject restriction statement is contained.

The New York State Not-for-Profit Corporate Law

The law in the state of New York which covers Non Profit Organizations, is at the top of the overall Governance chain of documents affecting the running of the IEEE. So, what the law is in our case, and how it applies to the duties of IEEE’s Board of Directors, is most relevant to if the subject restriction is valid or not. I will begin with a slide from the briefing given by the “IEEE in 2030” Committee on October 4, 2015 to the IEEE Board of Directors.

The “IEEE in 2030” effort to restructure the IEEE for the year 2003 contains this slide:

Slide 24, Board Source Governance Review

which is part of the 4 October 2015 Power Point Presentation to the IEEE Board,

titled, at this location:

IEEE in 2030 Optimizing for Impact

In this slide, Point 2 states:

“Under New York State Corporate Law, the board’s loyalty is first and foremost to the good of the corporation, in this case IEEE. Representative Boards, such as IEEE’s where Directors represent Regions and Societies, can create conflicting loyalties.”

In our case, the organization is the collective IEEE Members, Staff and Employees and the law states they are to be where the Directors’ first loyalty is to. That even overrides from which IEEE Group or entity they were elected to the Board from. Further, it would likewise exclude allegiance to any non-IEEE employer or client or other special personal interest. So if the IEEE Organization is where first loyalty is to be given, what would the legal duties of such Directors be in their IEEE capacity?

A Non Profit Organization Directors’ Legal Duties and Obligations to IEEE’s Members, Staff and Employees

Sources about what the law is here, are the following:

What The Law Is Right From the Start

What The Duties of a Non Profit's Directors Are

Quoting from the second source:

“Directors are required to perform their duties in good faith, with ordinary care, and in the best interest of the nonprofit, explained as follows:

  • In good faith. Good faith is shown by honesty and faithfulness to duties and obligations.
  • With ordinary care. Ordinary care is the use of good judgment and common sense. It means doing to perform their duties in good faith, with ordinary care, and in the best interest of the what an ordinarily prudent person in a similar position would do under similar circumstances. Ordinary care may differ from director to director based on their background and experience and the role they play in the organization.
  • In the best interest of the nonprofit. A director acts in the best interest of the nonprofit if the director reasonably believes that the action will benefit the nonprofit.

Doing what is in the best interest of the nonprofit means being loyal to the nonprofit – it means the nonprofit’s interest prevails over the director’s personal or business interest. Doing what is in the best interest of the nonprofit means that directors are obedient to the “laws” of that nonprofit, which include adhering to the Articles of Incorporation (or Certificate of Formation), bylaws, tax-exempt status, and faithfully following its mission and purpose. As always, it means that directors follows all laws applying to the nonprofit – federal, state, and local laws and regulations.” (Emphasis was added in last bullet to highlight the operative part.) How does a Director’s first loyalty apply to the IEEE in the subject restriction?

Given that the law states that the first obligation of the Director is to the Organization, I take the position that the Members, who with the employees and staff, make up the organization, and that ALL Members of the IEEE agree to abide by its Code of Ethics, and in the code, Article 10 makes it quite clear that each Member is to support the other Members in upholding the Code of Ethics. In other words, to “provide ethical support” if and when asked, needed and justifiable. Therefore, for the IEEE Directors to have passed and approved the subject restriction against the EMCC to get involved in employee-employer disputes of a professional/ethical nature, would therefore be a violation of the IEEE Code of Ethics, Article 10, in my humble opinion. Therefore, the Directors of IEEE should rescind this restriction and remove it from the EMCC Operations Manual.

IEEE Certificate of Incorporation

The link for the IEEE Certificate of Incorporation is here: http://www.ieee.org/documents/01-05-1993_Certificate_of_Incorporation.pdf

The CoI was last revised in 1997. In it, there is the language providing for the engaging in Professional Activities and the prohibition against Collective Bargaining in matters such as trade union issues. In my opinion, this does not prohibit the EMCC for entering into employee-employer disputes, dealing with professional/ethical issues and thus the subject restriction is in conflict with the CoI.

IEEE Constitution Document

The link for the IEEE Constitution is here: https://www.ieee.org/documents/ieee_constitution_and_bylaws.pdf

In the Constitution, Article I, Section 2 at the end, contains this statement:

“The IEEE shall not engage in collective bargaining on such matters as salaries, wages, benefits, and working conditions, customarily dealt with by labor union”

My view about this negative clause is that it has little or nothing to do with IEEE’s policies for Member Discipline and Ethical Support, as the early history and precedent cases have shown that the MCC deals with Professional and Ethical matters and not trade union matters. The above clause applies to hourly labor union matters which it makes quite clear, whereas the IEEE’s MCC charter deals with Professional employee Ethical behavior and conflict, entirely unrelated. So the subject restrictive clause has little or no applicability.

IEEE Bylaws Document

The link for the IEEE Bylaws is here: https://www.ieee.org/documents/ieee_constitution_and_bylaws.pdf

It is here where the teeth is found for invalidating the subject restriction contained in the EMCC Operations Manual.

Bylaw 110 Paragraph 3. Member Discipline

This part of the Bylaws provides for two important authorities for the IEEE; the first is to receive complaints alleging a violation of some part of the IEEE Code of Ethics. This could be any combination of Employee to Employee, Employee to Employer, Employer to Employer, Employer to Employee. Unless the matter can be settled by the parties themselves, and one seeks IEEE to become involved, by definition it may lead to an employee-employer dispute, and must have nothing to do with labor union issues. That is just the nature of it. So, under this Bylaw provision, the IEEE would have to be involved to determine any merit of the case or not and to try to find a solution to the matter. This part of the Bylaws, in my opinion, overrides the subject EMCC restriction.

Bylaw 110 Paragraph 10 Member Support

“IEEE may offer support to engineers and scientists involved in matters of ethical principle that stem in whole or in part from adherence to the principles embodied in the IEEE Code of Ethics, and that can jeopardize a person's livelihood, can compromise the discharge of the person’s professional responsibilities, or that can be detrimental to the interests of IEEE or of the engineering profession…”

As in the matter of a complaint of unethical conduct, this too can involve Employee to Employee, Employee to Employer, Employer to Employer and Employer to Employee situations. The more likely situation will be Employee to Employer of the four. Here, the Employee sees an engineering situation needing correction, brings the matter to his next higher authority but gets a NO response to do anything to correct it, then the Employee may go above this Higher Authority or go outside to Blow the Whistle, which leads to some form or reprisal or termination, thus affecting the Employee’s livelihood, and he/she seeks the IEEE EMCC help to resolve it. This then may lead to the IEEE getting involved in an Employee-Employer type dispute, or at best may only be filing an Amicus Curiae legal brief in any court action, expressing the requirement of the Employee to uphold the IEEE Code of Ethics, but not being an Adversary in the proceedings. The BART Case is an important precedent for this kind of ethical support action by the IEEE, as was the Virginia Edgerton and Salvador Castro cases. At any rate, only professional/ethical issues are involved and are fully authorized to be handled by the EMCC, thus overriding the subject restriction.

IEEE Policies Document

The IEEE Policies Document is found here: http://www.ieee.org/documents/ieee_policies.pdf

The following is from the Policies document.

“Part B - Form and Contents of the Request for Support.

2. The issue, incident(s), or the matter of ethical principle which the person believes is involved together with the specific provisions of the IEEE Code of Ethics deemed relevant or considered to have precipitated the condition(s) of jeopardy;”

Here in the above statement, it is made clear that the request for support deals with “ethical” and not trade union issues. As this is contained in a document higher than the EMCC Operations Manual where the subject restriction is found; thus it can not override the authority given to the EMCC in the above Policy statement.

“4. A full description of the circumstances, events and facts which relate to the ethical matter for which IEEE support is sought.”

This statement makes it abundantly clear that the EMCC is empowered to deal only with ethical issues, not Trade Union matters, so the restriction statement in the EMCC Operations Manual is not applicable here.

Termination of Ethical Advice And Support

This is my personal opinion about why the IEEE over the years eventually terminated all Ethics Advice and Ethical Support to its Members. I base this upon history, beginning back in the early days of the AIEE, a founding Society along with the IRE, of today's IEEE.

First, in 1912, the NY Supreme Court ruled that Executives would be allowed to serve on the Board of Directors (this was shown above as history). This enabled them to exercise the power they wanted for directing AIEE's interests towards their electrical/telephony business interests, and away from what had been the interests of the founding Practicing Engineer. In particular, these business leaders needed to promote needed industrial standards favorable to their business interests. Subsequently, then they were successful in elimination of engineers employed in industry from being required to hold a Professional Engineer's license, to practice (this was shown above as history). Both of these steps shifted the focus of the AIEE away from what the founding Practicing Engineers had formed the AIEE for in the beginning.

Second, in the early to mid 1970's, when large numbers of Aerospace Engineers had become unemployed when the Space program wound down, they demanded and got the IEEE Constitution amended by more than an 82% YES vote, and Professional Activities was added for the first time to IEEE's historical Technical, Educational and Standards Activities. Subsequently, IEEE adopted its modern day Code of Ethics in 1974, filed its historic Amicus Curiae in the BART Case, and debated how to enforce the new Code of Ethics. (These were shown above as history).

Third, in 1976-77, the Board of Directors business interests Members, wanted any new Ethics Committee to just be empowered to discipline alleged violations of the Code of Ethics but not to provide ethical support when a Member was placed in employment jeopardy for upholding the Code. On the other hand, the new United States Activities Committee, USAC and the Committee on the Social Implications of Technology, favored a new Ethics Committee with both discipline and ethical support powers. Eventually, these were combined and the new Member Conduct Committee, MCC, was approved in February 1978 with both duties. (These were shown above as history).

Fourth, when members were appointed to the Member Conduct Committee during its first 15-20 years of operation, they for the most part acted less than enthusiastically to provide ethical support and never published anything about its operations, cases handled, etc. (This was shown above as history),

Fifth, when the Ethics Committee, under Steve Unger as Chair, became active in the mid to late 1990's, it was successful in getting approval to establish several pro-ethics advice and support initiatives, such as requiring agreeing to comply with the Code of Ethics as one condition of renewing IEEE's Membership, operation of an Ethics HOT Line, publishing of ethics articles on an Bi-Monthly basis in the INSTITUTE, and plans for establishing an Legal Defense Fund. (These were shown above as history).

Sixth, when I was appointed to the Member Conduct Committee in 1996, to serve a 5 year term, I was able to see its operations, or lack of them, from the inside, verifying what Steve Unger and others had observed as inactivity on the part of the Member Conduct Committee to render ethical support to Members. Further, pressure was applied to me from most of the other MCC Members, over my pro-employee support actions. (These were shown above as history).

Seven, while on the MCC in 1998, I observed first hand then MCC Chair Martha Sloan, and a former IEEE President, advocating for the MCC to become more Pro-Ethics Advisor and Supporter, but another MCC Member and former IEEE President also, Wally Read, countered with a Pro-Business stance to not want the IEEE to get involved in employee-employer ethical conflicts (This was shown above to be history). Ultimately, Read's Pro-Business view prevailed. Further, each of the pro-ethics initiatives which the Unger Ethics Committee had gotten enacted, had been terminated by around 1997-98 and ethics advice and ethical support was stopped by the Board of Directors. (This was shown above to be history). At the end of my 3rd year serving on the MCC, my term was unexpectedly terminated 2 years early after I was Editor of Martha Sloan's proposed Ethics Clnflict Resolution Service, which Wally Read voiced opposition to.

Eight, finally, beginning around 2000, Wally Read's position became the informal way the new Ethics and Member Conduct Committee operated, and was prohibited from getting involved in employee-employer professional and ethical conflicts (This was shown above to be history).

Nine, then in 2005, the IEEE Board of Directors formally adopted the position prohibiting the EMCC from getting involved in employee-employer ethical conflicts and would not allow it to offer ethics advice to Members (These were shown above to be history).

Ten, today, 2016, the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee is prohibited from offering ethics advice and ethical support to its Members (This was shown above to be history).

I have concluded that these negative ethics positions were/are the result of Pro-Business Members exerting too much control in this area of IEEE and until new, younger Members step forward and reverse this over control, both ethics advice and ethical support will be denied to them in their practices. Additionally, under the current New York Not for Profit Corporate Law, the Directors of Not for Profits, owe their allegiance first, not to their outside business interests or employers, but instead to the Membership of the Not for Profit they are Directors of. I wonder if the law back in 1912 when the NY Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Business Members then had been under this same interpretation, if it would still have ruled they could serve on the Board of Directors of the AIEE and direct its activities in favor of their outside business interests. Finally, Canon 10 of IEEE's Code of Ethics, places the obligation on IEEE's Directors, to "support the Members adhere to the Code". I can not see how by continuing to restrict the EMCC from rendering ethics advice and ethical support does not violate this part of the IEEE Code of Ethics. So when will any IEEE Board make the needed changes and reverse these restrictions?

This has been my personal opinion but based on factual IEEE history.

An Historical Walk Through of IEEEs Support and Non-Support of Ethics, 1884-2015.pptx

A_POSITION_STATEMENT_DOCUMENTING_ETHICAL_SUPPOPT_RESTRICTION ON THE EMCC (7).docx

A Position Statement on Engineer Employee-Employer Ethical Disputes

During 2016, I conducted research after finding restrictions in the Operations Manual of the IEEE Ethics and Member Conduct Committee, (the EMCC), wherein it was prohibited from giving ethics advice and/or ethical support to its Engineers/Members, I wrote a series of papers about it not being valid. This site presents those papers herein.

A Series of IEEE Ethics, Ethics Advice and Ethical Support Writings Supporting My Opinions Presented Above

Walter L Elden, P.E. (Ret), April 10, 2016

IEEE and SSIT Life Senior Member

w.elden@ieee.org

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A Personal Look Back And Forward At IEEE's Ethics History

This IEEE Ethics History Repository, which I proposed and helped get started, houses key documents about how the IEEE first got started in ethics, the creation of the Member Conduct Committee, and now its replacement, the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee. Here, I offer some personal views about where IEEE has come from in ethics from the past and where it might go into the future.

INTRODUCTION

Recently, after speaking at a local IEEE Section Meeting on IEEE’s history of ethics, the Chair asked me:

“Why, at your age and being a Life Senior Member of IEEE, are you spending so much of your time on this, when you could be out there playing golf or something else?”

Well, I have devoted most of my past 60+ years, since becoming first AIEE and IRE Members back in college, towards understanding, applying, and supporting our Codes of Ethics, and have been one of the architects who created the IEEE Member Conduct Committee to provide both ethical discipline and support, I have felt that seeing that today since around 2000 our Board of Directors have placed restrictions on the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee to not provide ethics advice nor ethical support to its Members, I just could not walk away from something I, along with others, worked so hard to create. I just want to do what I can to correct this injustice and restore the EMCC back to what it originally, as the MCC then in 1978 was created to do.

Then, when I requested for Dr. Steve Unger, a Past IEEE Board Member and Ethics Committee Chair, whom I considered to have been my ethics mentor for over the past 50+ years in IEEE, to review and comment on one of my contributions to a SSIT Task Force, he wrote these prophetic remarks to me:

"I admire you for having the stamina to take another stab at getting the IEEE to re-start ethics support. I think that the key element will be the extent to which some young IEEE members get excited enough to pick up the torch. In all the years since we got crushed in the late 90s, I can't recall ever receiving any inquiry from a young IEEE member about IEEE ethics support." Stephen H. Unger, 12-24/2015

IEEE’s Ethics History of the Past

This IEEE Ethics History Repository, which I proposed and helped get started, houses key documents about how the IEEE first got started in ethics, the creation of the Member Conduct Committee, and now its replacement, the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee. This new EMCC, is now being restricted from giving ethics advice and ethical support by past and current IEEE Boards. The vast amount of written material in the Repository and provided links, shows that a lot has been written on the subject of ethics in the IEEE. It will be therefore helpful to future students, educators, researchers and practitioners to be able to come to one place to begin their learned work and not have to each conduct the extensive search which I did, to find the material they need. I hope the Repository will be utilized a lot for these purposes. I wish to thank Michel Geselowitz, Senior Director of the IEEE History Center, for supporting this Repository and to Nathan Brewer, Online Staff Member, for his technical assistance.

IEEE’s Possible Future Ethics History

We can speculate on where IEEE might go in the future in the ethics area. I will offer my opinions on this now. I offer three papers on this, discussed as follows.

Paper1:

How Internal Ethics Advice and Support Achieved a WIN WIN Outcome in an Employee Employer Dispute.docx

In this writing, I share a personal experience I had while working in industry, where I was in a System Architect Supervisory position, and provided ethical support to a subordinate enginee, a Member of the IEEE, who had brought an ethical conflict to me for advice. I was able to go to Management, discuss the situation, point out where the ethics conflict existed and was successful in getting it resolved, in a WIN-WIN outcome. This shows that even within an employment situation, providing both ethics advice and ethical support can produce positive outcomes, not only for the employee but for the employer too. It is hoped that the IEEE Board of Directors will draw this same conclusion and reverse its current dual restrictions on the EMCC to not offer ethics advice or ethical support to its own Members.

Paper 2:

IEEE's Board of Directors Need to Comply with Article 10 of its Own Code of Ethics

This writing was directed to the IEEE Board of Directors, by way of the current 2016 IEEE President, President-Elect, and Past President. It made the point that Canon 10 of the Code of Ethics applies to each IEEE Member, including Board Members, and to not support Members in upholding the IEEE Code of Ethics was a violation of this Canon 10. Therefore, it was hoped that the Board would see this and act to restore to the EMCC the charter to offer ethics advice and ethical support, as it was first established to do when the earlier MCC was created in 1978, which offered both for the next 20 years, successfully.

Paper 3:

A Strategy and an Alternative to the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee to Offer Advice and Support

This final paper proposes an alternative to the EMCC, to offer ethics advice and ethical support, in the event that the IEEE Board of Directors do not take steps to restore these roles to the EMCC. The alternative would be a Conflict Resolution Committee already established under the Technical Activities Board, which could expand its current role and perform these important services for all of IEEE.

CONCLUSION

With the establishment of the new IEEE Ethics History Repository, I am hopeful that many Members will avail themselves of the vast number of papers and writings now in this one central place, become informed of IEEE’s changing roles in ethics advice and support, and work to have both of these services restored to be performed by IEEE’s Ethics and Member Conduct Committee. That is why I proposed and worked to create this Repository on IEEE’s Ethics History.

Walter L. Elden

April 25, 2016

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