In 2001 the IEEE Board of Directors made a strategic decision to make IEEE a truly international society. As a result of this Region 8 derived one of the primary priorities in 2011: “Cooperation with European Institutions and Agencies”. Like on the level of Region 8, also the global IEEE level picked up the topic, e.g., for “IEEE in 2030”. After an outreach and consultation with IEEE members in Region 8, the need for more activities in the area of public policy became clear and the European Public Policy Initiative was consolidated and formed in 2013 as an Ad Hoc Committee supported by the new initiatives committee. Many activities and successes have been reported since. At the same time EU ofﬁcials have reached out to IEEE to get opinions about policies in technology.
Nowadays both the energy and the information and communications technology (ICT) sectors are undergoing tremendous changes in Europe. The European Union wants to be the world leader when it comes to renewable energy, but it faces hurdles. Communications technologies are being shaped by European policymakers as much as it is by technical experts—which brings its own set of challenges.
This is where IEEE European Public Policy Committee comes in. IEEE Region 8 Today, spoke with Marko Delimar, the committee’s chair, giving a very interesting interview about what does this initiative do and how important is.
Can you please explain to our readers, in simple words, what a public policy is?
Technology depends as much on the actions of governments as on the discoveries of scientists and the creativity of engineers. Wise technology-related policies are best developed through consultation between policy-makers and technologists. Professional societies provide large, diverse pools of technical experts whose consensus views are unlikely to be dominated by narrow political and corporate interests.
IEEE Public Policy activities leverage the knowledge and insights of our technical community to provide governments, NGOs, other public and private organizations, and the public-at-large with accurate information and recommendations to address technology-related public policy issues. IEEE Bylaw I-311 defines the IEEE Public Policy objectives.
You are the chair of the IEEE European Public Policy Committee. Can you tell us what does that Committee do?
The IEEE European Public Policy Committee (EPPC) expands the dialogue between the European engineering community and European public authorities to enable technologists to more easily share their expertise and concerns and to enable European institutions and other policy stakeholders to more easily obtain technologists’ input in matters relating to IEEE’s fields of interest. The Committee and its two working groups, one on Energy and one on ICT, work on tackling key challenges and developing policy documents.
The team works on an annual publication with The Parliament Magazine on topics in technology that are most relevant in public policy in those given years. Examples are here: (Empowering Heathcare Through Technology, Artificial Intelligence – Considering the Ethics, Building the Future, Advancing Innovation and Tomorrow’s World.
The team organises public policy events (such as: IEEE Summit on Technology for Health, IEEE AI & Ethics Summit, IEEE Summit Towards Secure Green Energy and IEEE Summit on Internet Governance) as well as participates in numerous European public policy events organised by the European institutions and many other technology and policy stakeholders.
How important is this committee for IEEE?
Public policy has been a top priority for IEEE since 2012 and is one of the four strategic goals of the IEEE Strategic Plan 2015-2020. European IEEE public policy activities started growing at about the same time and very rapidly evolved into one of the most prolific IEEE public policy groups. IEEE EPPC is now a committee that has a mandate from and reports to the IEEE Board of Directors.
IEEE, through its European Public Policy Committee, helps address the widening gap between the dynamics of rapid technology evolution and the capacity of socio-political processes to adopt in a democratic manner the rules necessary to ensure a harmony of technology development and public interest.
The IEEE European Public Policy Committee applies only on European members?
European policymakers often seek input with a global perspective therefore EPPC works closely with numerous IEEE Organisational Units, such as IEEE Region 8, several IEEE Societies, IEEE Standards Organisation, IEEE USA, etc.
Is your committee also responsible for consulting EU and get feedback for ethics of engineering?
EPPC works for the public benefit on matters such as Wellbeing & Healthcare, or Energy & Environment or Universal Access to the Internet, where ethical concerns are always in our focus. In 2016 we organised a summit on “Artificial Intelligence and Ethics – Who does the thinking?” which is possibly one of the best examples of groups of stakeholders from diverse backroads working on social, technological, legal, and philosophical questions together.
And indeed, earlier this year the European Commission (EC) included ethics as one of the three pillars of its AI strategy. The European Public Policy Committee, together with IEEE Standards Association, applied to be part of the EC’s High Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence. We are proud to announce that we were accepted, out of more than 600 applications for 52 places. Our representative is Prof. Raja Chatila, Chair of The IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems. Tasks of the group include steering the European AI Alliance and propose to the Commission AI ethics guidelines.
You can find more info at the IEEE EPPC Website
Marko Delimar is an electrical engineer, educator and researcher. He holds BSc, MSc and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering and a Diploma in Management. At present, he is Vice Dean of Education and Professor at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, where he has been with the Department of Energy and Power Systems since 1997. His interests include electric power and energy systems, simulations and modelling, intelligent systems, and engineering education. His current research focuses on analysis and design of smart grid architectures and large-scale integration of renewables.
An IEEE volunteer since 1994, he previously served as IEEE Secretary and IEEE Region 8 Director and is known as a co-creator of IEEEXtreme. In 2018, he serves as Director (Member of the Board) of the IEEE Foundation.