Newly-elected ACM President, Cherri Pancake, has called for greater diversity of thinking across the ICT sector.

In a recent interview with UK news magazine, The Verdict, Pancake said diversity is more than race or gender. “My biggest inroads in research, my biggest accomplishments, have all been because I was able to bring approaches and methods from anthropology to the problems of software engineering and large data systems,” she said. “Diversity of opinions and backgrounds and ideas enriches computing. It gives us new approaches to problem solving. As a profession we need to be pursuing it actively.”

The magazine article discusses Pancake’s rise to the top in a male-dominated industry and some of the important work ACM is doing in making computing technology fit for the digital age.  She cited ACM’s recently updated Code of Ethics as an important resource for crafting ethical standards for the industry and as an aid in decision making. “The idea of the Code is to put the onus on each professional to assume responsibility for the potentially harmful effect when they apply that technology,” she said.

On the GDPR regulation that was just instituted in Europe, Pancake said this was an important step in the right direction towards protecting consumers’ rights. However, it’s important to police the regulation properly. “I will say that the privacy clauses that are in our Code of Ethics are in alignment with GDPR. But as you know, it all ends up being a matter of how it’s actually applied,” she said.

She didn’t predict how long it would take for the US to officially adopt similar protections, but emphasized that ACM, along with other groups, is providing input to legislative bodies about the need to address data privacy issues.