Saturday, November 28, 2009

HCS Speech Outline

On Tuesday I am presenting to the Harvard Computer Science club a fifty three minute talk about possible futures of computing.

It's been rough! Just try and think of something interesting to say to some of the brightest computer programmers in the world. Especially when your interests are in computer programming... but without a technical background.

I've decided to focus on four key points; First, a look at Drones. Everything being done with drones, including ever advancing UAVs, and self-propelled CNC robots. I'll float some of the MIT CSAIL work by them and point out that it's mostly a software problem to make these things... so why aren't they involved? The question this stuff is meant to inspire is; Why would I mention this to computer scientists, and not save it for roboticists?

Because point 2 is Drone Fusion. This part of the talk will look at gaming, the growth of AI for specific situations and how UIs are getting more streamlined and easier to use, and comment on how a savvy programmer or forty could definitely find a place linking Drones and RTS, or in other types of Augmented Reality. Fusing drones and real life real time strategy is already being done in the field of drone farming, some cool projects like FourSquare, which has been augmented with 4mapper to be what I would call an RLRTS sort of app. Others include the Monopoly City Streets program from Google and, to a lesser extent, Google's project to CAD Every Building On Earth (Boston is being worked on as we speak!).
I hope i'll get some good questions on this topic. I think it's a fascinating field, and these are the people who could do the most to make it a reality instead of the whimsical dream of every RTS player.

Third, I want to touch on some of the neural interface, Brain Computer Interface, and brain simulation information that's been piquing my interest lately. This topic, surprisingly, touches on the first and second topics. Tenuous links, perhaps, but enough tenuous links make a pretty strong tie-in. I'll also cover some of the work at the University of Adelaide on Biomimetic Algorithms, simulating a fly brain in computer science to improve flight capabilities of drones. This'll be a brief section, I just want to make sure that nobody in the Harvard Computer Science club decides to go into a boring part of Comp Sci just because they don't know that cool stuff like this is being done out there!

Finally I'll briefly mention some of the alternative paradigms for computing which I think haven't seen enough use and ask the HCS some questions about it. This part will include questions like;
Why aren't chaotic algorithms used more often in software creation? Genetic Algorithms were appallingly successful in this robotics experiment, to link back to points 1 and 2. As a more practical example, a genetic algorithm to automatically generate new pages and optimize websites based on metrics (which are already absurdly available).
Why isn't game design taught to every comp sci major? Instead, it's reserved for specialized programs. That seems odd to me. I'm curious why they aren't interested in game design. Or if they are, I'd like to know that as well.

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