We live in a world where computing devices and systems have more societal impact than ever before, and yet they are simultaneously more difficult to test, debug, patch or even understand than ever before. Questions are constantly arising regarding how reliable and secure they are, and some autonomous systems are even raising broader discussions about fairness and ethics as well. In the midst of this, policymakers are—often with relatively little technical background—deciding what to do in terms of regulation and management of these systems. While computer science plays a prominent role in policy circles, policymaking for other science and technology fields like climate science, medicine, and many others is also both very complex and deeply important.
From August 2015 to April 2017, A.D. White Professor-at-Large Margaret Martonosi was a Jefferson Science Fellow (JSF) engaged in computing and communications policy within the United States Department of State. Established in 2003, the JSF program is one of many governmental programs aimed at improving and augmenting in-house science and technology expertise.
In this talk, given Oct. 11, 2017, Martonosi discussed the role of scientists and technologists in policy circles, drawing from her own personal experiences. She concluded with some thoughts on how—and why—scientists can and should be personally engaged in these issues over the months and years to come.