The doctor decides surgery is needed. The surgeon directs a robot with
nanoscale or molecular-scale precision to aid in the operation, implanting an embedded programmable
device for continuous monitoring or
periodic drug activation. As her condition improves or as new discoveries in
medical science are made, the device
can be reprogrammed through unintrusive software updates.
She returns home from surgery. The
doctor is able to monitor her recovery
remotely and continuously. Her medical device communicates wirelessly to
the cloud, adding entries to her personal medical record. Device readings
are accessible by only the doctor except
that alerts are also sent to emergency
specialists. Her home co-robot makes
sure she takes her medication. It helps
fix her meals and cleans her house as
I probably missed the boat on some
of these points, not just the computer
science, but certainly the medical science. But for sure, our technology is
the change agent for healthcare for
I will close with two caveats. First,
privacy. The medical profession upholds a principle of privacy that poses
difficult technical challenges for computer scientists to tackle. How can
we give the doctor access to a population’s data and still preserve the privacy of the individuals in the population? How can we protect her personal
medical record stored in the cloud?
Privacy in healthcare is an emerging
area of research in computer science.
Second, ethics. As with any technology, just because we can does not mean
we should. As computer scientists,
we are responsible for explaining the
benefits and limitations of informa-
is the change agent
for the future.
tion technology and for participating
in open debate on its ethical consequences. Technical solutions will not
suffice; we will likely need new regulations and changes to social norms.
mark Guzdial enrollment and Quality: Does it matter to measure? http://cacm.acm.org/ blogs/blog-cacm/143715-
November 29, 2011
Lord Kelvin has been quoted as saying,
“If you cannot measure it, you cannot
improve it.” (But he also said, “There is
nothing new to be discovered in physics now,” so what did he know?) In contrast, quality guru W.E. Deming wrote,
“the most important figures that one
needs for management are unknown
or unknowable.” What can we measure
in computing education, what can’t we
measure, and does it matter whether
or not we can? I’ve been thinking about
enrollment and quality—what can we
measure, and what does it matter?
Enrollment: Network World declared
computer science to be “the hottest major in campus” recently. Enrollment has
risen dramatically at the top CS departments. But has it really risen nationally?
Internationally? I recently visited Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, for their Melbourne Computing
Education Conventicle. CS enrollments
are down in the state of Victoria, and applications for next year are down 10%.
Most of what we know about CS enrollment in the U.S. we know from the
Computing Research Association’s
Taulbee Report, which gathers data
from Ph.D.-granting research institutions. There have been efforts to gather
data more widely in the U.S. (called Taurus for “Taulbee for the Rest of Us”),
but those have been small and not adequately funded. The U.S. Department
of Education tracks undergraduate
enrollment in their IPEDS database,
but only for first-time and full-time students. Part-time students, and adults
returning for more education, are not
counted. In reality, we don’t know how
“hot” CS is as a major. Nobody has the
Is that a problem? Many were con-
cerned about a lack of enrollment in
computer science. Some are now con-
cerned about the rise in enrollment. We
don’t really know what the enrollment
is, up or down, and maybe it doesn’t
really matter. We simply respond, and
mostly invisible market forces will drive
the students in ebbs and flows. If it is
important to us (for example, to the IT
industry, to those concerned about the
economy), then we need to figure out a
way to measure it.
Jeannette M. Wing is a vice president of microsoft and
head of microsoft research International. Mark Guzdial
is a professor at the georgia Institute of technology.