Monday, February 18, 2008

Engineering Challenges

The National Academy of Engineering released their Grand Challenges for Engineering on Friday: Many of these challenges have direct or indirect connections to computer science but I wish they had made more reference to the deep algorithmic issues that would play such an important role in these challenges and in society in general.

1 comment:

  1. Note that these are listed as "Engineering challenges" rather than scientific challenges. The computer science community has generally done a good job at merging engineering with science, but the value systems are decidedly different.

    One challenge that is close to my own interests is the "Secure cyberspace" challenge, but I'm skeptical that computer science will have much to do with solving this. We have lots of algorithms and technology that allows us to improve security, but they are repeatedly ignored by society and software engineers alike. Users tend to prefer ease of use over inconvenience of protecting their information, and software engineers favor rapid development over secure development. These are social problems, and should probably be addressed as such. If computer scientists want to solve this one, then they should identify a way to change human behavior.