Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility


Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Abbreviation CPSR
Motto Technology is driving the future... it is up to us to do the steering
Formation 1983
Type NGO
Purpose/focus impacts of computer technology on society
Headquarters Seattle, Washington
Website cpsr.org

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR) is a global organization promoting the responsible use of computer technology. CPSR was incorporated in 1983 (following discussions and organizing that began in 1981). It educates policymakers and the public on a wide range of issues. CPSR has incubated numerous projects such as Privaterra, the Public Sphere Project, EPIC (the Electronic Privacy Information Center), the 21st Century Project, the Civil Society Project, and the CFP (Computers, Freedom and Privacy) Conference. Originally founded by U.S. computer scientists at Stanford University and Xerox PARC, CPSR now has members in over 30 countries on six continents. CPSR is a non-profit 501.c.3 organization registered in California.

When CPSR was first established it was concerned solely about the use of computers in warfare. This initially was focused on the Strategic Computing Initiative, a US Defense project to use artificial intelligence in military systems, but added opposition to the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) shortly after the program was announced. The Boston chapter helped organize a debate related to the software reliability of SDI systems which drew national attention ("Software Seen as Obstacle in Developing 'Star Wars', Philip M. Boffey, (New York Times, September 16, 1986) to these issues. Later, workplace issues, privacy, and community networks were added to CPSR's agenda.

CPSR was originally a chapter-based organization and had chapters in Palo Alto, Boston, Seattle, Austin, Washington, DC, Portland (Oregon) and other US locations as well as a variety of international chapters including Peru and Spain. The chapters often developed innovative projects including a slide show about the dangers of launch on warning (Boston chapter) and the Seattle Community Network (Seattle chapter).

CPSR sponsored two conferences: the Participatory Design Conferences which is held biennially (the most recent, the 11th is being held in Sydney, Australia) and the Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing (DIAC) symposium series which was launched in 1987 in Seattle. The DIAC symposia have been convened roughly every other year since that time (most recently in October , 2010 in Prato Italy in conjunction with the Community Information Research Network (CIRN) annual conference. Four books (Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing; Reinventing Technology, Rediscovering Community; Community Practice in the Network Society; and Shaping the Network Society) and two special sections in the Communications of the ACM ("Social Responsibility" and "Social Computing") resulted from the DIAC symposia.

CPSR awards the Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional Responsibility. Some notable recipients include David Parnas, Joseph Weizenbaum, Kristen Nygaard, Barbara Simons, Antonia Stone, Peter Neumann, Marc Rotenberg, Mitch Kapor, and Douglas Engelbart.

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