Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

“The Measured Man”

July 12th, 2012 / in big science, research horizons, Research News / by Erwin Gianchandani

We’ve previously covered Internet pioneer and California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (CalIT2) founding director Larry Smarr’s decade-long quest to pursue personal health instrumentation — and there’s another great article in this month’s Atlantic shedding light on Smarr’s work, as well as his thinking about the future of healthcare (emphasis added):

He is not a doctor or a biochemist, he’s a computer scientist — one of the early architects of the Internet, in fact. Today he directs a world-class research center on two University of California campuses, San Diego and Irvine, called the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, or “Calit2” (the 2 represents the repeated and initials). The future is arriving faster at Calit2 than it is in most places. Larry says his eyes are focused “10 years ahead,” which in computer terms is more like a century or two, given how rapidly the machines are transforming modern life. Intent on that technological horizon, Larry envisions a coming revolution in medicine, and he is bringing his intellect and his institute to bear on it.


At 63, he is engaged in a computer-aided study of the human body — specifically, his body. It’s the start of a process that he believes will help lead, within 10 years, to the development of “a distributed planetary computer of enormous power,” one that is composed of a billion processors and will enable scientists to create, among many other things, a working computational model of your body. Your particular body, mind you, not just some generalized atlas of the human frame, but a working model of your unique corpus, grounded in your own genome, and — using data collected by nanosensors and transmitted by smartphone — refreshed continually with measurements from your body’s insides. This information stream will be collated with similar readings from millions of other similarly monitored bodies all over the planet. Mining this enormous database, software will produce detailed guidance about diet, supplements, exercise, medication, or treatment — guidance based not on the current practice of lumping symptoms together into broad categories of disorders, but on a precise reading of your own body’s peculiarities and its status in real time.


“And at that point,” says Larry, in a typically bold pronouncement that would startle generations of white-coated researchers, “you now have, for the first time in history, a scientific basis for medicine.”

Check out the full article here — and see a video of Smarr describing some of his imaging equipment below.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

“The Measured Man”

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