IEEE Technology Policy and Ethics Articles Published in 2020



The Authenticity of Information on Social Media

Rajakumar Arul, Vishnu K, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Amrita School of Engineering, Bengaluru, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, India, Amna Eleyan and Ali Kashif Bashir, Department of Computing and Mathematics, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

The dawn of the electronic age has led to the rapid growth of social networking platforms, which have become an inevitable part of our lives by satisfying our ever-growing expectations. They yield a variety of services, such as a platform for interpersonal networking opportunities, data sharing, a resource for local and global news, and many more. The most important service is the ability to provide a replacement of traditional mass media (newspapers, televisions, etc.) for accessing and distributing news. This transition is caused by ease of access, low costs, and the capabilities of receiving the news/information in an instantaneous manner. During a 2020 survey, more than 70 percent of respondents from Kenya, South Africa, Chile, Bulgaria, Greece, and Argentina stated that they used social media as a source of news. Conversely, less than 40 percent of adults in France, the UK, Germany, and Japan reported the same. However, a large portion of social media users admit that although they do not trust social networking sites as a media source, or as a source to get news, they continue to use it on a consistent basis [1].

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Implementation of 5G and Health Concerns

Donna Jiamjirarat and Corentin Rafflin, Ball State University

5G promises improved performance and efficiency at a lower cost than 4G, thus enabling the Internet of Things (IoT) to thrive. Implementing 5G requires adding base stations closer to the people because they will use higher frequencies, up to 300GHz, and will, therefore, have a shorter range. 5G will use frequencies from 600 MHz to 300 GHz, which include the millimeter-wave frequency bands – 30 GHz and 300 GHz – that were not used before [1]. Despite the advantages of 5G, concerns are still to be addressed regarding the possible health impacts of this technology. Opinions and research outcomes on this topic diverge across the scientist community, government agencies, and organizations.

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Cyber Security in Operation Technologies

Dr. Junaid Chaudhry PhD, Harvard Business School, University of Amsterdam, Edith Cowan University, and Kaspersky Research Laboratory

Cybersecurity has been at the forefront of the digital revolution for almost a decade now, yet we have not seen, what some call, ground-breaking silver bullet solutions to the problems like phishing, digital fraud, distribute denial of service attacks etc. One of the biggest hurdles in creating the ‘sense of self’ among high-performance machines is the ability to classify what is normal operation and what is anomalous [1].

The establishment of security operation centres and countless man-hours of security analysts have assisted in classifying known threats and attack patterns e.g. petya, wannacry etc . Along with assistance from data science marvels, we have come to a stage where we can confidently say that we have discovered a method through which human intelligence can be passed on to machines in the form of pattern [2]. We are readily reaping the benefits of Artificial Narrow Intelligence by pattern matching the known threats. In a closed system as soon as all the threats are discovered and accounted for, that system will be considered as a “secure-system”.

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Cloud technologies: All-Cloud IT Operating Model

Dr. Petar Radanliev and Prof. Dave De Roure, Department of Engineering Sciences, University of Oxford

Why are the IT operational strategies transforming from data centers ownership into an all-cloud subscription?

The traditional IT operating models are slowly becoming obsolete in the new digital age. New ‘all-cloud operations’ emerge from the digital transformation and require a new mindset. In the all-cloud operations, developers and business executives translate the products, services, constraints, and security controls into cloud architectures and data models. As this transformation from capital intensive IT operations is evolving into low-asset, all-cloud digital IT operations, the role of IT operations is also manager is evolving. This will inevitably cause some discomfort, but for those that can embrace these changes, the career opportunities will amplify.

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Inclusive Privacy Consenting in Public Video Surveillance and Future Directions

Ankur Chattopadhyay, Northern Kentucky University, Jordan Sommer, University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, and Robert Ruska Jr., Northern Kentucky University

Mainstream public video-surveillance systems are not generally designed to provide accommodations for under-privileged and under-represented subjects [1, 2]. These subjects comprise of physically-challenged individuals, visually-impaired people and senior-citizens. With the recent emergence of the GDPR act [3, 4], all surveillance data subjects, including these under-served populations, need to be offered an opportunity to provide consent, according to the Opt-in and Opt-out rule, regarding being recorded on closed-circuit televisions (CCTV) and other security cameras. Research advances in privacy-enhancing innovations [5, 6], and privacy-mediating features [6, 7] have helped visual-surveillance systems evolve towards offering more subject-centric privacy consenting options. However, these present state-of-the-art technologies do not account for the under-served people. In order to be more inclusive in its privacy-mediating design, a video surveillance system needs to address the difficulties posed by technologies to the under-served subjects. In this article, we discuss this potential gap in research work, and explore the need of designing more inclusive privacy consenting functionalities within video-surveillance systems.

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The Faustian Bargain- The Promise of AI and the Destruction of Jobs Part 3

Dr. Frank M. Groom

One option is to undertake a national effort to identify the work which must remain local to the communities and the country. Among these will be the traditional trades of plumbing, welding, electrical, repair, and installation. The builders, bricklayers, roofers, solar panel installers, well drillers, chimney builders, and repairers are always needed. Other local positions needed are the care and assistance of others including the sick, disabled, and elderly. Furthermore, the teachers in the pre-school, elementary, and high schools will likely remain local. Over time, public university education will increasingly be delivered by a few high-quality instructors over the national broadband network which 5G will significantly enhance. Millions of additional required jobs must be envisioned, planned, trained, and embedded in our business, public, and private organizations. Otherwise we may be left with a sizable unemployed population supported by a public dole which can only be sustained by the large corporations which no longer need and employ that populace.

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The Economics of Shared Infrastructure in 5G Networks

Zoraida Frias, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain; Volker Stocker, Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society (The German Internet Institute) / Technische Universität Berlin, Germany

5G, the new generation of mobile communications, has been designed to become the ultimate enabler for a digital revolution. Making possible a variety of new applications and business models, 5G is expected to drive a disruptive transformation of societies and economies. It promises to connect vehicles for more efficient, sustainable, and safer mobility; facilitate connected urban infrastructures for improved public services; revolutionize the health sector; and make factories and production processes smarter.

On the one hand, these innovative applications and use cases will significantly broaden the range of services delivered via mobile networks. On the other hand, they entail much more dynamic, diverse, and complex demands for connectivity, particularly in terms of Quality of Service. While some applications require ultra-high data rates or extremely low latencies, others need to be highly energy-efficient.

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How Blockchain Solutions can Improve the Education Sector

Bryan Fortriede, Lindsey Neeley, and Jake Skinner – Ball State University

Starting with identity management and the “laws of identity” [1] this article will discuss the current challenges and requirements imposed upon students in the education sector today. Building upon identity and record-keeping on a blockchain, the access granted to requesting entities is defined within access security. An exploration of the challenges and benefits by implementing blockchain and identity management with access security will highlight areas where complicated processes can be simplified with the use of blockchain technology. The summary below will detail how blockchain and identity management can be implemented to simplify and improve the current procedures that exist today.

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COVID-19: The Threat and Impact Vectors

Fatima Hussain, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto, Canada, Rasheed Hussain, Innopolis University, Innopolis, Russia

At the time of writing this article, the novel Coronavirus (code name COVID-19) claimed 203,307 human lives and left 2,923,125 affected with the virus among which 837,323 recovered, around the globe1. Although every sector of our life is badly affected by the COVID-19, the long-lasting effects of this pandemic will set new priorities for the nations’ policy-makers. At this point, the contours of the pandemic are opaque but it is anticipated that it will take an unprecedented amount of time, effort, resources, compromises, trade-offs, and policies to set the path to the next normal. Among other walks of life, the world economy took a huge hit due to lockdowns imposed by the international communities. COVID-19 has badly affected our daily lives, shaken the healthcare systems, and above all, paralyzed the norms of work ethics due to both ‘work from home’ and ‘no work’. The way we are struggling to work remotely to keep our jobs, remote schooling, managing our personal and social lives, COVID-19 is no longer just a health or a well-being threat. It has a far bigger threat vector than we currently anticipate. Also, thanks to our globalized society and interdependent economy, this pandemic has no political, geographic, and religious boundaries, and has caused a regional and global crisis (public health included).  In this vein, this article is a minute attempt to shed light on the threat vector of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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A Low-cost Preventive Face Shield and Reusable N95 Compatible Mask for Preventing the Spread of COVID-19

Sunil Jacob, Saira Joseph, and Varun G Menon, Center for Robotics, SCMS School of Engineering and Technology, India

Recently, there has been a severe shortage in the global repository of personal protective equipment (PPE) stemming from the rising demand of gloves, face masks, and ventilators. This has left doctors, nurses, and other frontline health workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients. Most of the doctors and medical personnel are increasingly anxious, fearing they could expose not only themselves to the virus, but their families and others as well. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the price of N95 masks, gowns and other medical essentials has increased greatly1. The research community is putting its best efforts to come up with novel solutions to tackle this problem2.

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COVID-19 Disease Modelling and Its Impact on Public Health Policy

Muhammad Qasim, University of Otago, New Zealand, Waqas Ahmad,University of Otago, New Zealand, Muhammad Azhar, Islamic International University Islamabad, Pakistan, Mohammad Azam Ali, Islamic International University Islamabad, Pakistan

In pandemics or outbreaks, mathematical models are one of the first tools to use for estimation, characterization, and planning of measures to mitigate the spread of disease.1  When a pandemic of influenza occurred in 2009, it was important to quickly analyze the potential of the virus to cause illness and death by comparing with already available data of 1918, 1957 and 1968 pandemics and characterizing it as mild or severe diseases.2  Exact forecasting of an epidemic or pandemic based on previous disease data is a major gold standard method of disease modeling. Additionally, modeling of real-time data during an outbreak or pandemic is very helpful to pattern disease spread and identify the most vulnerable regions to take appropriate actions.3 Similarly, it is important to estimate the number of infected cases in the near future, for quick resource mobilization and resource management.

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Indiana: How We Figured Out the Optimal Approach to Run Government from Our Couches and Kitchen Tables

Joe Cudby, Indiana Office of Technology and Jared Linder, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration 

As a rapid response to COVID-19, Indiana’s governor mandated sheltering the entire state in-place except for essential service providers. Most of the state’s agencies were required to leave their offices since they were deemed ‘non-essential’. Historically state employees did not work remotely — with no resources (e.g., computers, virtual private network access) ever being placed in their residences. The state’s move to support the majority of workers with remote services was a huge undertaking that needed to be accomplished quickly and without too many fail points as the citizens of the State of Indiana still needed the critical services the state provides. This article is a briefcase study of how this challenge was overcome. We will describe how Indiana—both at a state and an agency-level—rapidly adapted to the operational challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. By pivoting quickly to novel technology, Indiana enabled more than just the ability for remote work, but also empowered teams to respond with agility to the new environment wrought by the pandemic. This response was only made possible by a strong centralized information technology (IT) presence and collaborative agency response. We also describe the specific response and outline a successful use case.

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Current Trends and Future Directions in Security of FPGA Applications with Focus on Thin Clients

Cameron Collins, University of Wisconsin – Green Bay and Ankur Chattopadhyay, Northern Kentucky University

Recent high-profile security flaws in conventional desktop and server processors have brought increased interest and attention to the risks posed by proprietary hardware and the closely guarded, obfuscated firmware that tends to accompany it.1 Adoption of open-source hardware and firmware could potentially address this issue. However, bringing any hardware based intellectual property (IP) to production through traditional methods may affect people plus organizations and may involve legal implications within the product’s supply chain.2 Additionally, a large attack surface poses a problem. Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) can prospectively address this concern, as they can be programmed and functionally verified directly by organizations, which use them.

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Cyber-Physical Forest Protection Systems, Part 2

Emad Roshandel, Research and Development Department, Eram Sanat Mooj Gostar Company, Shiraz, Iran and Mohammad Khosravi, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Shiraz University of Technology, Shiraz, Iran

As was discussed in the first part of this article, Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) can play a crucial role in the protection of forests. Different factors of a high-performance WSN like communication networks, power supplies, and installation methods of sensors were discussed in the first part of the article. In this second part, power supplies of sensor nodes and their energization are significantly considered as our topic for more discussion.

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The Faustian Bargain – The Promise of AI and the Destruction of Jobs, Part 2 

Frank Groom, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana

Read Part 1.

In the blossoming days of globalization some of the lower level “white-collar” work was outsourced to India and other southeastern Asian countries, but the difficulty of the 12 hour time zone difference, language differences, and cultural requirements of the work caused some of that work to return as pointed out recently by Ben Casselman in the New York Times.1

While all this business evolution has been occurring, the world of information technology has exploded with ideas, experience, tools, and techniques. Venture capitalists have seen the potential and have funded the nation’s technologists to “think big”- the self-driving car, the electric car, space shuttles for everyone, even drones for delivery, automated trucking for intercity and national transport. And the mimicking of the brain’s facial recognition process has empowered the utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) facial recognition screening.

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The Faustian Bargain – The Promise of AI and the Destruction of Jobs, Part 1 

Frank Groom, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana

Programmed technology progresses in an irregular fashion, first promising great things, and delivering only a little, but gradually adjusting and delivering with second and third attempts. The failures and disappointments are magnified, and the successes are overlooked or diminished. But the progression continues. Programmed technology eliminates jobs as intended, but also creates new ones in different, frequently new areas.

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Cyber-Physical Forest Protection Systems, Part 1

Emad Roshandel, Research and Development Department, Eram Sanat Mooj Gostar Company, Shiraz, Iran and Mohammad Khosravi, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Shiraz University of Technology, Shiraz, Iran

The vast earth forests are burning in fire, and human beings cannot retard the fire in time. Therefore, a large area of the earth’s lungs is removed because of the inability of forest protectors in turning the fire off and stopping the fire growth in the center of forests. The forest fires can be categorized into two separate categories which are environmental and human-made causes. When there is no rain for several consecutive months, the dry trees foliage and branches are the available fuels to start a forest fire. In this condition, environmental events (e.g., lightning and volcanic activities) and human-made fires like traditional tribal fires or carelessness camp-fires can be the sources of the initial fire for such fuels1. Literature has tried to introduce different protection and preventing systems to stop forest fires. Unfortunately, it could be claimed that the proposed methods have not been adequately useful in the protection of the jungles.

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The following article, published in May 2019, is re-printed here as the highest viewed article of 2019:

Current State of API Security and Machine Learning

Fatima Hussain, Brett Noye, Salah Sharieh, and Wilf Tonsmann, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto

The adaptation of application program interface (API)s in every enterprise is the emerging business trend, and at the same time it diversifies the threat domain for businesses. APIs are becoming the new and most important infrastructure layer on the Internet and are the most vulnerable point of attacks in modern systems. Each API adds new dimensions to security threats and attack vectors to corporate data and applications, therefore critically forfeiting the business systems. Traditional security features for APIs protection are provided through API gateways, and it had been nothing more than API keys and username/password combinations (HTTP authentication). On the other hand, intruders and hackers are getting smarter. Combining the proliferation of social engineering platforms with recent technological advancements, the ability to gain access to confidential data has become both easier and common. APIs funnel data among applications, a multitude of various API users, and cloud infrastructure, therefore sensitive / confidential information might get exposed to unauthorized users, if API security is not carefully crafted. Using a holistic approach to securing APIs not only addresses the vulnerability issues, but offers protection for all of the infrastructure, networks and information.

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