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Computation for Humanity: Information Technology to Advance Society [Hardcover]

Justyna Zander , Pieter J. Mosterman

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Book Description

Oct. 7 2013 Computational Analysis, Synthesis, and Design of Dynamic Systems

The exponential progress and accessibility of computing has vastly increased data flows and revolutionized the practice of science, engineering, and communication. Computing plays a critical role in advancing research across almost every scientific discipline.

Computation for Humanity: Information Technology to Advance Society is a guide for the creation of services, products, and tools that facilitate, support, and enhance progress of humanity toward more sustainable life. This book:

  • Provides a deep understanding of the practical applications of computation to solve human-machine problems
  • Delivers insight into theoretical approaches in an accessible manner
  • Provides a comprehensive overview of computational science and engineering applications in selected disciplines
  • Crosses the boundaries between different domains and shows how they interrelate and complement one another
  • Focuses on grand challenges and issues that matter for the future of humanity
  • Shows different perspectives of computational thinking, understanding, and reasoning
  • Provides a basis for scientific discoveries and enables adopting scientific theories and engineering practices from other disciplines
  • Takes a step back to provide a human-related abstraction level that is not ultimately seen in pure technological elaborations/collections

The editors provide a collection of numerous computation-related projects that form a foundation from which to cross-pollinate between different disciplines and further extensive collaboration. They present a clear and profound understanding of computing in today's world, and provide fundamental solutions to some of the most pertinent humanity-related problems.

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The book will be useful as a research and reference guide to scientists, engineers, and professionals from different domains in the process of investigating important questions about the observed world with the help of computational methodologies. A direct contribution of the book are the several examples that can be adapted or replicated to problems that a human being encounters in the course of daily activities.
—Pawel Skruch, AGH University of Science and Technology, Department of Automatics and Biomedical Engineering

"Three decades ago, IT moved out of the machine room and into the home. Now it is moving into the whole world, as the cloud and the net become united with new technologies that permit computation to sense and act within the world and among social groups. The editors and authors of this book perceive that the bursting of computational technologies into the world will result in fundamental change in the relations within social groups, the practice of the arts, professions and sciences, and the ways in which society manages its practical operations such as maintaining the health of its citizens, designing its infrastructure, and operating its political processes.

In order to support such a wide-ranging hypothesis, equally wide ranging evidence must be martialed. The contributors to this volume have done an admirable job, at that task providing case studies in fields ranging from history to zoology, from city planning to knowledge discovery.
—Lee Barford, Agilent Measurement Research Laboratory, Reno, Nevada and Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada

"This is an insightful book that will fascinate and inspire all those interested in the technological progress of various disciplines and its role in society and everyday life. By presenting the most recent solutions and the achievements of computing and engineering in various applications, ranging from arts to sciences and engineering, the book not only consists a proof of the presence of computing in every aspect of our everyday life but it also highlights the human aspect and social sustainability as the ultimate goal of the computation-related advances."
—Virginia Papailiopoulou, Software Engineer

"This book is a good and fresh read. It covers a various current topics related to the influence of information technology to the advancement of the society. While it covers technical topics, the language used in this book is quite light, that it is readable not only to specialist but also non-specialist. This way, it will reach a wider target of readers and hence also function as good source of information to non-specialists who are interested in the topics covered in this book."
—Dina Shona Laila, University of Southampton

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, Accessible and Inspiring Dec 8 2013
By Tigger - Published on Amazon.com
Disclosure: I was asked by the editors to review their book and they sent me a copy for that purpose. I have no financial stake whatsoever in sales of this book.

This is an incredibly ambitious book; an edited volume of contributions from people around the world involved in pushing the frontiers of computing with a specific end goal in mind: providing “a guide for the creation of services, products, and tools based on computation that facilitates and advances the progress of humanity towards a more sustainable life”. The editors tell you they want to provide inspiration for solving humanity’s grand challenges. A big task to bite off.

I had trouble putting it down. The book fed my intellect, my theoretical side and my interest in practical applications. The contributors tackle serious societal problems, providing enough contextual setting and technical detail to keep me glued to their presentations. It’s not just theoretical wishful thinking. You certainly don’t need to be a scientist or engineer to read this book, but the more of a technical background you have, the more of the nuts and bolts you will be able to dig into.

The subject matter is all over the map, so even if one topic isn’t your thing, another probably will be. Environmental and economic sustainability, smart cities, quantum computing, digital journalism, emancipation studies, and more. I was inspired by all of those. I am still puzzling about how personalized video (YouTube) searches got in there, but I was won over to the inclusion of self-adapting opera by the solid presentation.

Some of the contributions are controversial, which is good, because a book that wants to push the creative envelope had better be. One writer suggests that certain domains (e.g. banking, health care and transportation systems) have needs that can be addressed on a large scale if we agree upon a universal definition of humanity. He then posits such a definition, deliberately abstracting away from political, religious or cultural influences. There is plenty of room for challenging this premise, starting with whether or not you agree with this definition of humanity, and whether or not you believe the definition can be operationalized. Personally, I have doubts on both counts, but the provocative perspective is worth discussing.

The editors brought together these contributions to demonstrate outside the box thinking about solving big societal problems and to inspire more of that thinking. They succeeded. The book leaves me hopeful about our future.

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