Special Report: Ethics in Engineering

18 May 2017

The advent of self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence, and autonomous weapons has brought renewed attention to the ethical and societal implications of new technologies. These concerns present IEEE with an ideal opportunity to lead the discussion about technology and ethics. In this special report, The Institute covers programs aimed to help in this area.

The IEEE TechEthics program aims to establish IEEE as a thought leader about technology and ethics and a trusted resource for industry, policymakers, and the media. We also report on the Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems, an IEEE Standards Association Industry Connections activity, which will help educate, train, and empower those involved in developing technologies to make ethical considerations a priority. Promoting ethical behavior is nothing new for IEEE—It’s been concerned with ethics for engineers for more than 40 years, as you’ll see in our timeline.

We also profile IEEE Member Terah Lyons, a former policy advisor for the Obama administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. She helped draft policies on emerging technologies such as machine intelligence, automated vehicles, and civil and commercial drones. IEEE offers variety of resources to help inform engineers about ethics, including a website, videos, conferences, and standards.

Feature Articles


IEEE Thought Leadership in Ethical and Social Implications of Technology

The organization aims to be a trusted resource for industry, policymakers, and the media


Designing With Ethical Principles in Mind

IEEE initiative wants human well-being and other values to be considered for AI and autonomous systems


Q&A With Terah Lyons, Former White House Policy Advisor on AI

The Trump administration should involve more engineers in policymaking, she says


Seven IEEE Standards Projects Provide Ethical Guidance for New Technologies

They cover autonomous systems, data privacy, and avoiding bias in algorithms


What’s Being Done to Improve Ethics Education at Engineering Schools

Universities are working with IEEE and other organizations


Did You Know? The Pioneer of Electronic Surveillance Warned Against Its Misuse

The organization aims to be a trusted resource for industry, policymakers, and the media


Timeline: Elevating Ethics for Engineers

IEEE has been promoting ethical behavior for more than 100 years


Learn More About Ethics and Technology With New IEEE Resources

Products and services help engineers understand the implications of their work



The Ethical Dilemma of Designer Babies

In this TED Talk, biologist Paul Knoepfler discusses the consequences of prioritizing advancements over morals


The Whistle-Blowers Who Exposed Water Quality Problems and Defective Ship Designs

These engineers’ courage led to reforms in Flint and the U.S. Coast Guard