Rice University: Vardi wins award for social and professional responsibility

Rice computer scientist Moshe Vardi has won the 2021 Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional Responsibility from IEEE’s Society on the Social Implications of Technology (SSIT).

Vardi, University Professor and the Karen Ostrum George Distinguished Service Professor in Computational Engineering, was honored for “for leadership in raising awareness on adverse societal consequences of computing and communication technologies.”

Named in honor of computer science pioneer Norbert Wiener, the Wiener Award is given annually to recognize an exceptional contribution or outstanding career in the field of the social implications of technology, and to serve “as a reminder of what Wiener stood for, and of what each individual can do to make this a better world,” SSIT President Clint Andrews said in presenting Vardi the award on July 22. The presentation at the society’s IEEE 3rd Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andrews said Vardi “has transformed into one of the discipline’s most ardent spokesmen about the societal impact and consequences of computing and communication technologies” and “exemplifies Wiener’s unrelenting engagement with the social consequences of new technology.”

Vardi joined Rice’s faculty in 1993 and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the European Academy of Sciences. He teaches logic and research ethics across Rice’s curriculum, is a faculty scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy and was tapped in 2019 to lead Rice’s Initiative on Technology, Culture and Society. He has authored or co-authored more than 700 articles and two books and is a senior editor of Communications of the ACM, the flagship publication of the Association for Computing Machinery, having served as its editor-in-chief from 2008-2017.

Vardi is a Guggenheim fellow, the first two-time recipient of the ACM Presidential Award and has been recognized with numerous honors, including IEEE’s Goode Award, ACM’s Gödel Prize, the 2021 Donald E. Knuth Prize given jointly by ACM and IEEE, and the 2021 Allen Newell Award given jointly by ACM and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

Formerly known as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the 423,000-member IEEE is the world’s largest association of technical professionals.

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