The Institute - December 2019 - 2

president's column

An IEEE for the Next Technological Revolution
I WANT TO REFLECT on the unique
times we live in and how they force
us to rethink our organization.
Our roots go back to the founding
of the American Institute of Electrical
Engineers (AIEE) in 1884. It is interesting to note that AIEE was around
at the onset of the second industrial
revolution in the last quarter of the
19th century. That time period was
dominated by electricity, radio, the
telephone, and many other advances.
Fast-forward to 1963, when AIEE
and the Institute of Radio Engineers
(IRE), which had been founded in
1912, decided to bridge any remnant
rivalry, joined forces, and restructured
into one organization more attuned
to the times: IEEE.
Again, it is interesting to note that AIEE
and IRE were aware of the shift in technology that was moving us into the third
industrial revolution, which would be
dominated by electronics, computing,
information, and digital advances.
We once again find ourselves facing
a time of significant change. During
the past 15 years of this 21st century,
we have witnessed a perfect storm of
technology convergence that includes
the dominance of data arising from the
physical, the social, and the business
worlds; massive computing thanks to
the miniaturization of chips and other
components, as well as other factors
predicted inexorably by Moore's Law;
progress in algorithms and processing

methodologies; and the integration
of disparate technologies on the wondrous smartphone.
Our world is interconnected, "smart,"
and mobile. We aspire to "intelligent"
infrastructure, "intelligent" transportation, smart homes, and smart everything.

The question is how IEEE should evolve
to address the new opportunities of this
fourth industrial revolution. Our 46 societies and councils (S/Cs) are the professional
homes for technologists in a large number
of important technical fields, but it is clear
they currently do not cover many of the
areas driving the technological progress
of the future. We face a conundrum in


The Dominance of Data 175 zettabytes: the amount of data produced, consumed,
and stored in a single year-more than many million times the size of the documents
in the U.S. Library of Congress.
Source: Consumers Flocking to the Cloud, International Data Corp., 2019



DEC 2019



the way we manage ourselves. Many
of our S/Cs are narrow in their discipline, while much of the current
technology challenges are broad and
require complementary expertise.
IEEE Technical Activities is addressing this quandary of covering emerging
technologies through its Future
Directions initiatives, which are nimble
ways to evolve and expand IEEE's technical horizons. The initiatives have
a fixed horizon of three years, after
which one or several of the existing
S/Cs absorb them. It has become clear
in some cases, however, that we might
better sustain a specific initiative by
creating a new technical S/C rather
than merging it into an existing one.
The important point is to guarantee that IEEE has the right mix of S/Cs
and that we nurture and sustain new
technology areas. Herein lies an opportunity to rethink the current portfolio
of S/Cs and develop ways of combining
or sunsetting existing ones by creating
new organizational units that are home
to the emerging areas in which our technological world is evolving.
There is a similar opportunity for IEEE
Member and Geographic Activities (MGA),
which comprises 10 regions, 339 sections, 2,430 chapters, 543 affinity groups,
2,266 student branch chapters of S/Cs,
and 3,284 college and university student branches-all of which support our
members across the globe at the local
level. These numbers reflect the vitality
of IEEE. Our members as technical professionals identify with one or several
technical S/Cs and belong to a section
and a region, and possibly to a chapter,
branch, or affinity group.
Two regions-RegionsĀ  8 (Europe,
Middle East, and Africa) and 10 (Asia


It's critical for our shared future that the organization is prepared


The Institute - December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Institute - December 2019

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