SIGCAS Annual Report

July 2002 - June 2003
Submitted by: Tom Jewett, Chair SIGCAS

1. Awards that were given out

The 2003 SIGCAS "Making a Difference" award went to Professor James Moor, Dartmouth College. This award is given to an individual who is nationally recognized for leadership in promoting increased awareness of ethical and social issues in computing, and to encourage responsible action by computer professionals. Jim is recognized as a true pioneer in computer ethics and for his gracious mentorship of others in this field.

The 2003 SIGCAS "Outstanding Service" award went to Professor Richard Epstein, West Chester University, Pennsylvania. This award is given for outstanding service to SIGCAS by carrying out responsibilities that enable it to continue to make a contribution to the computing profession. Rich is recognized for his extraordinary creativity and contributions to every SIGCAS conference and publication in the last decade, as well as his service to the profession as a whole.

Both awards were presented by SIGCAS Vice-Chair Keith Miller at the June 2003 conference on "Computer Ethics, Philosophical Enquiry," of which SIGCAS was an in-cooperation sponsor.

2. Innovative programs which provide service to some part of your technical community

The major SIGCAS activity for 2003 involved a combination of publication, technical innovation, and organizational change. This was our first year as a publication-only SIG, in response to overwhelming budget pressures. For the same reason, our publication, Computers and Society, moved from print-only form to online-only form. We were assisted in this by a generous grant from the SGB EC, which provided for the startup costs including customization of existing ACM software. The EC appointed the previously elected Chair to continue for a term of two years as the Chair of the reorganized SIG.

To increase the visibility within ACM of this publication, we also proposed that it be designated an ACM online magazine (similar to eLearn), although it continues to be edited, staffed, and written by SIGCAS volunteers. The ACM Publications Board concurred with this recommendation, and appointed Leslie Regan Shade as the first Editor-in-Chief.

The conversion to online began in July 2002. Optimistically scheduled for completion that September, the first issue appeared in early November -- still a major effort with much-more-difficult-than-anticipated problems in adapting the eLearn software to a new publication. Subsequent issues (December and March) became increasingly easy to do, and by June 2003 the publication was on time and easily consistent with the quantity and quality of articles that had typified the print version. Content is now available or in preparation for at least the next three issues (September, December, and March 2004).

This has been a major cooperative effort between SIGCAS and HQ ACM. In particular, the teamwork of Leslie Shade (Editor-in-Chief), Erik Kapocius (Production Editor and SIGCAS Information Director), and Chris Guccio (ACM IT Department) has been essential to our success.

3. A very brief summary for the key issues that the membership of that SIG will have to deal with in the next 2-3 years.

Organizationally, SIGCAS is certain to face the same membership and budget concerns that are well-known to many of the SIGs. Specifically, we need to increase the visibility and readership of our online publication, and most importantly need to increase the number of active volunteers who are involved in its production. We have just named a new Associate Editor for conference-related news and articles, but many more positions remain to be filled.

In our technical area, the social problems of computerization are simply increasing. Gaps in access to technology according to gender, social and economic standing, and disability are only slowing being addressed. Abuse of technology for commercial purposes, special interests, and fraud are widespread and growing. Legislative and judicial systems are frequently slow and ineffective in responding to technical innovations. As a profession, we still lack the cohesiveness and public influence of older disciplines such as medicine or law. Education of both practitioners and the general public remains a key to progress. SIGCAS will continue to address these and other topics of relevance to our charter.

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