This year, 80 of the leading CS faculties, department chairs research institutes in Europe gathered in a humid Paris for the European Computer Science conference to delve into the new role Informatics should play among the sciences. Put forward this year was the need for a multidisciplinary approach uniting research, curricula as well as education.
The several keynotes of this first day of conference addressed different aspects of the matter. While Mark Harris opened the conference with a keynote on ˇĄThe Role of Informatics on Addressing the big Global Challengesˇ¨, he stressed the importance of an all-rounder, well trained IT specialist, able to take on a much-needed leadership role in the field. He pointed out to the need for multi-disciplinary training in order to produce graduates who are both generalists and specialists as the only answer to fill the leadership gap inherent to the field of ICT at the moment. The talk raised quite a few questions, particularly salient seemed to be the issue that a lot of faculty are either not aware of the multi-core ˇĄtsunamiˇ¦ coming their way or donˇ¦t know how to tackle it.
After him, European Commission Head of strategy for ICT Research and Innovation, Khalil Rouhana, then presented the EU strategy for ICT research and innovation, explained the gaps of private & public sector investments in the EU compared to the US. Proportionally, companies invest much less in ICT R&D in EU member states compared to the US but more surprisingly the EU public sector invests even less (60% lower). He linked it to the fragmentation of markets present in the EU where a lack of a single European market for innovative ICT, a fragmented public demand as well as R&D investments explain in great part these shortcomings. Luckily, 3 new initiatives in private-public partnerships around the fields of energy efficient buildings, energy efficient factories and green cars have recently been put in place by the EU to remedy this.
Wendy Hall- ACM President- closed the keynotes in beauty with an expose of her study of the Web and its evolution. One of her conclusions highlights nicely the central issue of the conference; computer science is a relatively new discipline which is still working through some of its issues and trying to come to terms with its identity; while it had a huge impact on society, it is still taught in a very boring or limited way in schools, underestimated by public spending and in dire need of leadership. But these challenges are also loaded with opportunities such as parallelism, multi-disciplinary approaches, etc…will they be taken advantage of?