Alan Turing Binary code, Shoreditch High Street, London by Chris Beckett on Flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND license)
Over at democracy corner, Manchester Digital is interviewing all of its elected council members. Somehow, I got volunteered to be first interviewee. Here’s my two pence on one of the questions asked: “What do you think is biggest challenge we face as an industry?” (with some extra links)
- Firstly, coding and “computational thinking” , needs to be understood as something that isn’t just for developers, geeks, coders, techies, boffins or “whizz kids” – as the Manchester Evening News likes to call them. Computational thinking, the ability to understand problems and provide innovative solutions in software and hardware, is a fundamental skill that everyone can learn, starting in primary school. As well as being fun to learn and practice, it is a crucial skill in a wide range of organisations in digital and beyond. Thankfully, the new computing curriculum in UK schools has recognised and addressed this, but it remains to be seen what the long-term impact of the changes in primary & secondary education will be on employers.
- Secondly, as an industry, both the digital and technology sectors are seriously hindered by gender imbalance. If only 10-20% of employees are female, then large numbers of talented people are being excluded from the sector – bad news for everyone.
Is that reasonable – or have I missed the point? Are there more pressing issues facing the technology sector? Either way, you can read the rest of the interview at manchesterdigital.com/democracy-corner which will be supplemented with more interviews of council members every week over the next few months.
- Wing, J. (2008). Computational thinking and thinking about computing Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 366 (1881), 3717-3725 DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2008.0118
The Alan Turing statue at Bletchley Park. Creative commons licensed picture via Michael Dales on Flickr
Next weekend, a bunch of very distinguished computer scientists will rock up at the magnificent Manchester Town Hall for the Turing Centenary Conference in order to analyse the development of Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Alan Turing’s legacy .
There’s an impressive and stellar speaker line-up including:
- Rodney Brooks, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Fred Brooks, University of North Carolina Turing Award winner
- Vint Cerf, Google, Turing Award winner
- Edmund M. Clarke, Carnegie Mellon University, Turing Award winner
- Jack Copeland, University of Canterbury
- George Ellis, University of Cape Town, Templeton Prize winner
- David Ferrucci, IBM TJ Watson Research Center Principal Investigator of the Watson/Jeopardy! project
- Tony Hoare, Microsoft Research, Turing Award winner
- Garry Kasparov, Kasparov Chess Foundation
- Samuel Klein, Trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation and a Director of the One Laptop per Child Foundation.
- Donald Knuth, Stanford University, Turing Award winner
- Yuri Matiyasevich, Institute of Mathematics, St. Petersburgh
- Hans Meinhardt, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology
- Roger Penrose, University of Oxford, Wolf Prize winner
- Michael O. Rabin, Harvard University, Turing Award winner
- Adi Shamir, Weizmann Institute of Science, Turing Award winner
- Leslie Valiant, Harvard University, Turing Award winner
- Manuela M. Veloso, Carnegie Mellon University
- Andrew Yao, Tsinghua University, Turing Award winner
Tickets are not cheap at £450 for four days, but you can sign up for free public lectures by Jack Copeland on Turing: Pioneer of the Information Age and Roger Penrose on the problem of modelling a mathematical mind. Alternatively, if you can lend some time, the conference organisers are looking for volunteers to help out in return for a free conference pass. Contact Vicki Chamberlin for details if you’re interested.
- Chouard, T. (2012). Turing at 100: Legacy of a universal mind Nature, 482 (7386), 455-455 DOI: 10.1038/482455a see also nature.com/turing