ICTAS: Black Swan Seminar Series

Black Swan Seminar Series

Next Seminar:
To Be Announced

In the New York Times best seller, "The Black Swan", the author (Nassim Nicholas Taleb) defines a Black Swan as an event that has three characteristics; it is an outlier; it carries an extreme impact; it has retrospective predictability. He further makes a claim that our world is dominated by Black Swans. He cites the example of the three recently implemented technologies that most impact our world today - the Internet, the computer, and the laser - and notes that all three were unplanned, unpredicted, and unappreciated upon their discovery, and remained unappreciated well after initial use.

While it may not be possible to predict the next Black Swan, it is the contention of ICTAS Director, Roop Mahajan, that we can create an environment and a breeding ground for future Black Swans - an environment in which engineers, scientists and humanists from different disciplines can come together to move beyond the predictable and incremental advances in the current technologies to the disruptive technologies of the future. To this end, the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS) is launching a new seminar series entitled "The Black Swan and Disruptive Technology."

Generation 2.0 (Gen2.0) is the next generation of Black Swan seminars for CY2014. Instead of a single speaker as in Gen1.0, Gen2.0 will have a panel of expert faculty discussing the state-of-the-art and societal implications of a particular scientific research area or new technology. The ICTAS associate director for outreach will moderate the panel and facilitate Q&A from the audience. Moreover, a ‘stretch goal’ will be discussed in each Gen2.0 Black Swan seminar series; this goal will catalyze long-term thinking and discussion of the technical limitations needing to be overcome to achieve the goal and the concomitant societal implications if that goal is achieved.

More about this

Winter/Spring 2014

Big Data Forecasting
With: Anil Vullikanti, Dhruv Batra, Devi Parikh (with Naren Ramakrishnan by phone)
04/04/2014, 2-4 pm, ICTAS Café X

The capability to forecast the future has long been a dream of mankind. With the recent availability of significant computational power and data storage capabilities, there exists the potential to use ‘big data’ as a lever toward tracking trends and making forecasts for critical societal events, including civil unrest, elections, disease outbreaks, and criminal activities. Numerical, semantic and image data can be assessed toward achieving such foresights.  Early research by Virginia Tech has proven the ability to forecast events with quantifiable accuracy a few days or weeks before they occur.  But how far can we push such forecasting?  What societal implications are wrought when longer term forecasting becomes feasible?  This Gen2.0 Black Swan panel session brings experts together for an open dialogue about the promises and current limitations of big data forecasting. In particular, we will address a stretch goal to catalyze discussions around this exciting area: can we forecast critical societal events into the near to far future (1 to 5+ years out)?

Connect Anywhere, Anytime and with Anything
With: Jeff Reed
01/31/2014, 2-4 pm, ICTAS Café X

Technology is rapidly changing our world through the Internet-of-Things (IoT).  IoT is a network of physical objects communicating using embedded wireless capabilities.  These objects include machines in factories (machine-to-machine, M2M), medical instruments in hospitals, utility meters in smart-grid systems, vehicles on highways (vehicle-to-vehicle, V2V), and food in refrigerators.  Cisco estimates that 8 billion people will be surrounded by 9.4 billion wireless devices in 7 years. It is expected that the IoT will create a $14.4 trillion worldwide market within the next decade.

There are many challenges to be addressed before smart devices and the IoT can be realized. For example, wireless radios in today’s mobile devices are homogeneous; radios support a limited type of network. Creating smart devices that can connect to the IoT requires that mobile devices can connect to several different types of networks as the device’s owner moves about (e.g., transitioning from a cellular network to a business network) to securely maintain IoT connectivity and on-demand smart functionality. On the other hand, the scarcity of wireless spectrum, as well as the increased demand for wireless communication in the IoT, inhibits wireless devices’ ability to readily establish connection at any place and time. Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) is considered a core technology to allow general users access of underutilized spectrum when primary users (i.e., governments or hospitals) are not using their allocated spectrum.

In this Black Swan seminar, we will discuss opportunities, needs, and challenges of the IoT. 

View Past Seminars  (Click to Expand)

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ICTAS (MC 0193)
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(540) 231-2597