Archive for the ‘conference reports’ category


“Humans, Computers Each Have Their Place”

December 15th, 2011

In The Washington Post yesterday:

Modern technological advances have sparked many concerns that supercomputers, robots and other sophisticated machinery will soon erase the need for skilled workers, especially in industries like manufacturing and construction, perhaps driving the nation’s unemployment rate even higher in the years ahead.


Google Chairman Eric Schmidt (left) responds to questions at an event for the Economic Club of Washington, DC on Monday [image courtesy The Economic Club of Washington, DC/Paul Morse via The Washington Post].Similarly, Americans’ increasing dependence on technology, ranging from constant computer use to around-the-clock interaction with mobile phones, has prompted many observers and academics to question whether the line separating people and technology is blurring in an all too dangerous manner.


On Monday, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt offered words to mollify those concerns [after the jump].


» Read more: “Humans, Computers Each Have Their Place”

NIH: “Looking at the Potential of mHealth to Solve Long-standing Problems”

December 6th, 2011

2011 mHealth SummitOver 3,600 officials spanning government, industry, and academia are gathered at the third annual mHealth Summit just outside Washington, DC, this week, “to advance collaboration in the use of wireless technology to improve health outcomes in the U.S. and abroad.”

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius kicked off the conference on Monday morning, emphasizing the game-changing aspects of mobile health technology to improve clinical outcomes, promote preventative medicine, and reduce wasteful spending and healthcare costs. Sebelius noted that mobile healthcare technology is gaining added significance — and issued a call to arms to support innovation in mobile medical devices.

“This is an incredible time to be having this conversation,” she said. “[The federal government] can play a critical role as a catalyst.”

And timed to coincide with the mHealth Summit, two NIH officials — Wendy Nilsen, a Health Science Administrator in the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), and William Riley, a Program Director at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute — are out with an article describing NIH’s efforts in mHealth (after the jump):

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A Recap of Supercomputing

November 25th, 2011

SC11 conference - Seattle, WA - Connecting communities through HPC [image courtesy SC].Last week in Seattle a record attendance of more than 11,000 people from throughout the world met at the Seattle Convention Center for SC11 — the largest international supercomputing conference focusing on high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis through a large industrial and research exhibition and a highly peer reviewed technical program (which was attended by almost 5,000 people this year).

The conference keynote presentation was given by Jen-Hsun Huang, Co-founder, President, and CEO of NVIDIA®.

» Read more: A Recap of Supercomputing

“The Cyborg in Everyone”

October 24th, 2011

2011 Emerging Technologies Conference at MITWe blogged about brain-computer interfaces early last week — and it turns out there was a related talk later in the week by Gerwin Schalk, a Research Scientist at the Wadsworth Center, during MIT’s 2011 Emerging Technologies Conference. Schalk described his lab’s pioneering methods for controlling computers with thoughts instead of fingers:

Gerwin Schalk, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health

[In 1968], Doug Engelbart actually showed for the first time how it is possible to use a mouse, a graphical interface, and networked computers to … augment human function. The idea of course was to offload some of the … clerical tasks that we used to perform as humans to a computer that [could] hopefully do these things much faster…


So the vision of Doug Engelbart and his contemporaries — or even people before him — which was nicely expressed by J.C.R. Licklider, who wrote … more than 50 years ago, is that, ‘The hope is that, in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly, and that the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information-handling machines we know today…”


Now, of course, you know that this vision that J.C.R. Licklider articulated 50 years ago truly has come to be a reality. We can now go on Google and we can type in a keyword, [and] Google goes out and has terabits of information processing speed and terahertz of information processing power, and comes back on 0.23 seconds and tells us what the answer to our query is…


Now that, however, has sort of brought up another problem which I used to call the communications problem… Our brain is an information processing machine that does a lot of things in parallel. It doesn’t execute one particular algorithm very quickly, but it executes a lot of algorithms all at once. Now in contrast, [in] the computer… you have one particular algorithm — typically one of a few algorithms — that are executed very, very quickly. So both of these devices — the brain and the computer — in their own right are extremely, extremely powerful. [But] the path that connects these two is a very, very small pipe. In fact, in terms of information transfer rate, if we transmit information to the outside by spoken language or by typing for example, we cannot communicate more than about 40 to 50 bits per second. Period. That’s the maximum speed of our motor system in communicating with the outside. Now that’s sort of pathetic given the fact that the brain is pretty powerful and that computers of course can transmit hundreds of gigabytes per second, and so forth — and then you have about 50 bits per second that relate the two…


So just like Doug Engelbart and contemporaries, I, too, have a vision. And my vision is that, wouldn’t it be nice if we could tap directly into the brain to get access to this rich semantic representation and communicate … directly between the brain and the computer? 

See the answer as part of Schalk’s presentation after the jump…

» Read more: “The Cyborg in Everyone”

Standing-Room Only at a VLDB Challenges & Visions Session

September 13th, 2011

37th International Conference on Very Large Data Bases (VLDB 2011) [image courtesy].Attendees of the 37th International Conference on Very Large Databases (VLDB 2011) — a premier annual international forum for data management and database researchers, vendors, practitioners, application developers, and users — stretched into the hallway outside the meeting room during the first of two Challenges and Visions sessions held in Seattle, WA, in late August. According to Hank Korth, CCC Council member and liaison to the VLDB program committee, “The talks were fantastic [and the follow-on] questions [were] great.”

In keeping with tradition for these CCC-funded sessions, the VLDB Challenges and Visions Track emphasized visionary ideas, long-term challenges, and opportunities in data-centric research outside of the current mainstream topics of the field. Of 41 submissions, 10 were chosen for presentation based on the extent to which they expanded the possibilities and horizons of the field. Following the presentations, three were further selected to receive first-, second-, and third-place prizes — to include CCC travel awards totaling $1,000, $750, and $500, respectively (see the winners after the jump):

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SSTD 2011 Vision & Challenge Track Winners Announced

August 27th, 2011

Mohamed Mokbel, University of MinnesotaShashi Shekhar, University of MinnesotaThe following is a special contribution to this blog from Shashi Shekhar and Mohamed Mokbel, faculty in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Minnesota. The pair organized the 12th International Symposium on Spatial and Temporal Databases in Minneapolis, MN, this week.

We were delighted to host a successful Vision and Challenge Track at the 12th International Symposium on Spatial and Temporal Databases this past Wednesday through Friday. SSTD 2011 was the twelfth event in a series of biennial symposia that discuss research in spatial, temporal and spatio-temporal data management. This year’s SSTD program exhibited diversity across organizations (e.g., academic, industry, and government), career stage (e.g., graduate students, early-stage, mid-stage, and senior researchers), and research life-cycle (e.g., research papers, demonstrations, challenge/vision papers).

The Vision and Challenge Track invited submissions of short papers in the areas of interest of the main event that: 1) described revolutionary ideas that are likely to guide research in the near future; 2) challenged existing assumptions prevalent in the research community; and 3) identified novel applications and technology trends that create new research challenges. Of the 21 vision/challenge papers submitted, 8 were accepted.

Of these 8, three were chosen for CCC Headwaters awards. (As we believe many papers in the Vision and Challenge Track will be headwaters for influential rivers of follow-on discoveries, inventions, and research papers, we named the awards after the Mississippi River’s headwaters — the place within Minnesota where the mighty Mississippi begins its 2000-mile journey as a humble stream, ultimately becoming one of the longest and most powerful rivers in the world.) Prizes were provided for the first-, second-, and third-placed papers/presentations on the basis of the papers and subsequent presentations. The prizes took the form of travel reimbursement awards totaling $1,000, $750, and $500 for first, second, and third place, respectively.

The award-winners were (after the jump…):

» Read more: SSTD 2011 Vision & Challenge Track Winners Announced