The New York Times reports that decades of rapid advances in computing speed, memory, networking, software, have brought computing into science, business, and culture in ways that were barely even hinted at years ago. These quantitative advances have paved the way for massive qualitative changes. Now computing advances have enabled computer simulations of climate change, and the unraveling of the human genome. Meanwhile, low-cost computing and the internet are currently revolutionizing the global economy. At a symposium held in Washington by the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, scientists from academia and business attempted to answer the question: “What’s next?” Dr. Richard M. Karp gave a presentation on algorithms and presented a fundamental explanation for why computing is having such a big impact on other sciences. Increasingly, scientific research aims to understand dynamic processes, and algorithms are particularly suited for that goal. Dr. Karp said that biology is now understood as an information science. And scientists now seek to describe biological processes as algorithms. Karp says “In other words, nature is computing.”

Social networks also play a big role in the future of computing, as social scientists are able to track behavior in social networks like never before. Scientists are witnessing a revolution in both the new social-and-technology networks that can be measured, and the degree to which they can be measured. This new capacity for research should prove to be a treasure trove to marketers, economists, anthropologists, educators, and more… (Note: This site requires free registration.)