Calit2's Smarr, Savage Featured in New York Times' 'The Future of Computing'

San Diego, Calif., Dec. 6, 2011 — Today's edition of The New York Times features articles written by two researchers from the University of California, San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), — including Calit2 Director Larry Smarr — as part of its special report on “The Future of Computing.”
Larry Smarr
Larry Smarr

In his essay, “An Evolution Toward a Programmable Universe,” Smarr (who also oversees the UC Irvine division of Calit2) describes how embedded sensors, remote data centers, apps and other computing components will create “a distributed planetary computer of enormous power.” 

Writes Smarr: “Such computational power, co-located with the gigantic storage that holds the data from all the incoming data streams, will enable faster-than-real-time simulations of many aspects of our physical world.... Computing will have evolved from merely sensing local information to analyzing it to being able to control it. In this evolution, the world gradually becomes programmable.”

Stefan Savage, a Calit2-affiliated professor of computer science and engineering at UC San Diego, contributed an essay titled “In Planning Digital Defenses, the Biggest Obstacle Is Human Ingenuity.” In it he examines the evolution of computer security
Gian Mario Maggio
Stefan Savage
and the role human nature plays in criminal profit-seeking attacks, the large-scale collection and use of personal data and “the growing potential for abuse of computers as an instrument of war.”

“There is a tendency to believe that computer security is different from other security,” he writes. “Maybe because computing is mechanistic and predictable, we like to think that security questions should succumb to some form of deterministic analysis. But security is at its heart a human issue.”

Others contributing essays for the special section include M.I.T. Media Lab Director Joichi Ito, Daphne Koller of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Theodor Holm Nelson, who is a well-known dissenter in the field of computing. The section also includes a number of articles about computing around the world, as well as an interactive feature that asks readers to make predictions and collaboratively edit a timeline on the future of computing.


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