Interactive Sessions - Kids' Tech University (KTU) at SWVAC    
Dr. Wu Feng April 05, 2014
Will Computers Replace Humans?

An interactive session led by Dr. Wu Feng

Elizabeth & James E. Turner Fellow and Professor in the Department of Computer Science as well as the director of the Synergy Laboratory and site co-director of the NSF Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing at Virginia Tech. Adjunct faculty with the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech and the Department of Cancer Biology and Translational Science Institute at Wake Forest University.

... As of June 2011, the fastest computer in the world performs approximately 10,000,000,000,000,000 mathematical calculations per second.  How many such calculations can you perform per second?

... In February 2011 on the show Jeopardy!, IBM's Watson supercomputer trounced its human counterparts:  Ken Jennings, the record holder for the longest championship streak on Jeopardy!, and Brad Rutter, the biggest all-time money winner on Jeopardy!

... At present, unofficial reports indicate that Google uses more than 500,000 computers to deliver search results for its Google search engine.  That is, Google uses computers to perform search rather than humans.

... While K-Mart was the "king" of discount department stores back in the 1980s, Walmart has become the undisputed king of discount department stores, and K-Mart filed for bankruptcy in 2002.  What happened?  Walmart invested heavily in computer technology to manage its supply chain while K-Mark did not.  In short, Walmart replaced humans with computers to manage its supply chain.

Does the above portend a future where computers will replace humans?  Why?  Why not?

Please join me on both a technical and philosophical journey to answer the question:  "Will computers replace humans?"  Expect a wild ride where we will likely produce even more questions than answers :-).

Dr. Feng is the Elizabeth & James E. Turner Fellow and Professor in the Department of Computer Science as well as the director of the Synergy Laboratory (http://synergy.cs.vt.edu/) and site co-director of the NSF Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing at Virginia Tech.  He also holds adjunct faculty positions with the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech and the Department of Cancer Biology and Translational Science Institute at Wake Forest University.  Previous professional stints include Los Alamos National Laboratory (1998-2006), The Ohio State University (2000-2003), Purdue University (1998-2000), University of Illinois (1990-1996), IBM T.J. Watson Research Center (1990), and several start-up companies, including Vosaic (1997), EnergyWare (2008-2010), and Abokia (2010-now).

Current research interests in Dr. Feng's Synergy Lab encompass large-scale and high-performance computing with applications to science, engineering, and health.  Examples of such projects include "Computing the Cure for Cancer," video cards for supercomputing, data-intensive biocomputing in the cloud, big data analytics for the life sciences, mpiBLAST (http://www.mpiblast.org/), Supercomputing in Small Spaces (http://sss.cs.vt.edu/), and The Green500 (http://www.green500.org/).  Of particular note with respect to the last two projects is HokieSpeed, a GPU-accelerated supercomputer that debuted as the greenest commodity supercomputer in the U.S. on the Green500 in November 2011.

Dr. Feng received a B.S. in Electrical & Computer Engineering and in Music (Honors) in 1988 and an M.S. in Computer Engineering from Penn State University in 1990.  He earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996.

April 2014 - Hands-On Exhibits
After the interactive session the students will be escorted by their parents to have lunch and then to the hands-on portion of the event. There the students will enjoy the experience of interacting with various exhibits from the Abingdon, VA community.