Computing a better world.

This month has (thankfully) been slightly less busy than the previous few of Third Year, though I’ve still been up to a lot in the Kilburn Building!

My third year project has been progressing nicely; I’ve now got a fully functional Part of Speech tagger that’s parallelised on CPU cores, and am starting to port it over to the GPU. I also did a seminar on how the project has progressed so far, the slides of which are online.

Since I’m planning on doing a Masters next year (either in Computer Science or Computational Biology), I’ve been looking at internships for the Summer in between graduating from my current degree, and starting my next. Things are progressing well for another internship at Google this Summer, some pretty cool projects are being banded about!

Outside of the course, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what impact Computer Scientists are having on society. There’ve been a plethora of climate change related viewpoints posted on websites such as HackerNews, Lobste.rs, Twitter etc, probably prompted by the worldwide coverage of COP21.

Among these, was a rather large post (which I strongly encourage you to read) on what a technologist can do about climate change. It goes over all the different challenges that we (as a society/race) need to overcome in order to create a sustainable way of living (plus how technologists can help), and the use of data visualisations to back up the content is fantastic (a fantastic application of Javascript apart from anything!).

In the article, you can interact with the data on the right of the picture, and the values in the text on the left will automatically update, which helps you gain an intuitive understanding of the data. So cool!
In the article, you can interact with the data on the right of the picture, and the values in the text on the left will automatically update, which helps you gain an intuitive understanding of the data. So cool!

I don’t think it was in the aforementioned article, but I recently read something along the lines of:

Worrying about game AI, packet routing, natural language processing etc when climate change is happening all around us, is akin to standing on some train tracks with a train coming and worrying about a lightning strike.

I think the quote is slightly too harsh; a professor working on NLP (natural language processing) can’t have much of a direct impact on something like decarbonization or green energy. However, I do think that more students should consider working on problems such as climate change (medicine, government etc too) before blithely letting themselves work on something that’s possibly technically interesting, but ultimately frivolous.

Thanks for reading, and I will post again soon!

Todd

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