Computer Science, Global Challenges, and National Policy

Ed Lazowska, University of Washington
Host: Greg Hager

We tend to think of computer science as operating systems, programming languages, networking, data management, computer architecture, and algorithms. But, it is much more! It is also efficient transportation, energy independence, health and wellness, personalized education and life-long learning, national security, and 21st century scientific discovery. The growing role of computing has broad implications for society at large: “computational thinking" at a minimum - probably more - will be an essential capability for every citizen, going forward.

The dramatically expanding role of the field is creating exponentially expanding opportunities and pressures. Computer scientists, academic leaders, and policymakers in fields ranging from STEM education to research priorities to privacy, security, and human rights need to recognize and embrace this expanding role.

In this talk, I’ll begin by taking a look at past progress in the field. I’ll then explore the coming decade, during which we’ll “put the smarts into everything.” I’ll discuss some of the implications of this for the way we view the field (both from within and from without), for the education of the next generation, and for institutional and national policies.

Speaker Biography

Ed Lazowska holds the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, where he also serves as the Founding Director of the University of Washington eScience Institute.

Lazowska received his A.B. from Brown University in 1972 and his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1977, when he joined the University of Washington faculty. His research and teaching concern the design, implementation, and analysis of high performance computing and communication systems, and, more recently, the techniques and technologies of data-intensive discovery. He is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Association for Computing Machinery, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has received the Vollum Award for Distinguished Accomplishment in Science and Technology from Reed College, as well as the University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award.

Lazowska has been active in public policy issues, ranging from STEM education to Federal policies concerning research and innovation. He recently co-chaired (with David E. Shaw) the Working Group of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology charged with reviewing the Federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program, and previously co-chaired (with Marc Benioff) the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee. From 2007-13 he served as the Founding Chair of the Computing Community Consortium, whose goal is to catalyze the computing research community and enable the pursuit of innovative, high-impact research aligned with pressing national and global challenges. He has served on the Technical Advisory Board for Microsoft Research since its inception, and serves as a technical advisor to a number of high-tech companies and venture firms.