News
Bernie Goldie
16/12/2012

International experts look into the future of computation

The future of computation and how research in computer science might transform people’s lives were some of the questions addressed by a workshop held recently at the School of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

The workshop brought together a range of internationally renowned computer scientists from countries such as Canada and South Africa as well as several senior academics from Australian
universities.

According to workshop organiser, UOW computer scientist Professor Aditya Ghose, this was the first time that such a “visioning” workshop addressing the breadth of computer science has ever been held.

“Our intent was also to articulate some compelling grand challenges for computer science,” he said.

“Over the course of the workshop, a number of interesting scenarios for the future emerged. We will begin to see a blurring of the boundaries between human thinking, social decision-making and computer-generated decisions, as computation becomes part of the fabric of civilisation.

“Our computational infrastructure will generate knowledge, and not just data, at increasingly faster rates. A number of bio-medical research challenges, such as the search for the cures of difficult diseases, will increasingly become computer science problems,” Professor Ghose said.

“In the next decade, transportation systems, including self-driving cars, will become entirely autonomous, building on computer science advances that enable complex co-ordination over transport networks. 

“We will see seamless co-ordination between mining and manufacturing units, transportation networks and global supply chains, in ways that will reduce the environmental impact of these operations. We will be able to use computational models to understand the impact of social or
legislative decisions, possibly leading to new forms of electronic democracy.

“And we will use computers to decide what should drive social, organisational and individual behaviour, by using ‘deep dashboards’ to understand the implications of specific choices,” Professor Ghose said.

“Computer scientists might even be able to help generate better, or alternative accounts of history, by using sophisticated algorithms to understand how particular historical events might influence others. The list is quite amazing.”

The workshop report will be released shortly.

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  • Computation workshop participants (front row l to r): Professor Yi Mu and Professor Aditya Ghose (UOW), Associate Professor Dongmo Zhang (UWS); (middle row l to r): Associate Professor Wayne Wobcke (UNSW), Dr Abhaya Nayak (Macquarie), Professor Jennifer Seberry (UOW), Professor Randy Goebel (University of Alberta, Canada);( back row l to r): Professor Thomas Meyer (Mereka Institute, CSIR, South Africa) and Professor Michael Thielscher (UNSW)