The Global Impact of Computer Science

I recently watched the excellent closing keynote from Megan Smith (Vice President, New Business Development at Google) at the 2010 Computer Science & Information Technology Conference at Google HQ in California. The annual CS & IT Conference is organised by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), a membership organisation that supports and promotes the teaching of computer science and other computing disciplines in the US (CAS in the UK is modelled on the CSTA).

The keynote was originally pitched as a talk on the “future of technology and education” but was a wider analysis of the extraordinary global impact of computer science. And it is truly extraordinary and widespread: from analysing global flu trends, making critical information more accessible in times of disaster or using decades of satellite date to track Amazon deforestation, through to its impact on education: search engines for learning, the value of programming and creating apps and even widening access to learning.

Megan’s talk gives a great overview of what is happening in the world because of computer science and information technology, as well as the wider trend of convergence and interconnection between disciplines (especially between the physical sciences and the life sciences). It also reinforces the importance of data literacy and computational thinking; we frequently talk about the value of digital literacy and the effective use of technology for learning, but how can we truly embed computer science across the curriculum?

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