The HPC Asia 2009 keynote speech, given by Dr. Peter Arzberger, gives us deep understanding into Dr. Arzberger’s vision for the successful integration of HPC with cross-cultural and international collaboration. He also describes the beginnings of the PRAGMA institute he started several years and currently chairs along with its organizational structure. Dr. Arzberger’s goes on to give us his insight into how to better educate students of science so that they will be better prepared to do research in the global science community.
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Part 1: Introduction
The origins of this talk really started at least five years ago and they really started with a question: “How can we help society with our technologies?” And at that time, Fang Pang and many others in this room were dealing with the SARS epidemic. They were watching their colleagues, friends, and neighbors suffer from this, get sick, and even in some cases die. And Fang Pang contacted PRAGMA which was a beginning organization at the time, and he said, “Peter, what can we do? How can we help?” And it was really that question that got me thinking about this talk. And this particular situation was the isolation of people and the technologies that were applied with the access grid (AG) technologies and the technologies that would allow people to share information that would allow both patients to talk to their doctors but also for family members to talk with their patients.
And so, as I thought about this talk, I’ve been thinking about that question ever since, is how can we take our technologies and apply them for the benefit of society. And in this particular case that happens to be fresh water for drinking. So what are the technologies that are available to us is the next question? And what are the implications and trends in those technologies? I’ll talk about two of those trends in my talk today. But the incredible amount of data we have available to us and how that forces us to think of a new way to synthesize and bring those stated together in new ways.
And the second thing is that technology that actually is the communication that allows us to pull together groups in new ways to do science, that is, to change the conduct of science. And finally the question is, well, are we good at training students to take advantage of this new synthesis, to take advantage of this new way of collaboration in a way that will benefit both them, and ultimately feedback to society itself? And to really be able to put their work in a much more tighter societal context than they have right now. So this is pretty much the overview of my talk today - -moving from society benefits to technology trends to the implications of that.
And the next few slides I’m going to focus very much on what are some of those trends, what are those society needs, which you can see here. We are, in a certain sense, living beyond our means on the face of this planet. We can see that our impact on the coral reefs has really changed the ecology of the oceans. The health of the citizens is really driven in part by cardiac diseases and also infectious diseases. In particular, there’s a type of disease called the “neglected tropical diseases.” There about 20 or 30 of them total and they affect one-sixth of the world’s population yet the only 1% of the drugs that are being developed now address this epidemic. I think this is something that we as a society have to think more about that, and education, because this is a major problem. And another activity that you heard about yesterday is agriculture. How can IT help agriculture? How can IT help to feed all of us?
And so what are some of the technologies that we can use to help address some of these issues? Well, there are new types of instruments that gather the data. Whether it’s remote sensors such as the sensors that are actually put into the environment. Whether it’s the microscopes that are in the lab that are getting higher and higher resolution. Or, new types of imaging technologies applied, in this case, to cultural heritage presentations. Now, there’s another whole area that I’m not going to talk about but that is really relevant to this and that, of course, it is the Green IT and how can we be more efficient in the use of IT technologies? But I’m not going to address that today even though it’s an important issue.