Long time no see...

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As most readers of these pages are probably aware of already, I have stopped working on my PhD in mid-2008. Since then, I have been working on different projects for GEA Farm Technologies, an international company and part of the GEA Group. I have written a few words about my project there in the Projects section of this site.
 
And I also thought it was time to do some cleanup on these pages, so I fixed the title and got rid of the "phd" in the middle. However, my affection towards computer science still remains which is why I decided to keep these two letters in there. Thanks for stopping by.

"I'm afraid I can't do that."

I have recently joined the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) which is the organisation to support and drive IT research. In order to not only support the USA-centric research community and also have local benefits, I have also joined the GI (Gesellschaft für Informatik) which is the largest German organisation of that kind. Since I have given up on my PhD endeavours a good year ago, I have been looking for something to stay in touch with current IT research.

One of the benefits that comes with being an ACM member is that you get a print and on-line subscription to the Communications of the ACM, one of the finest and broadest journals linking research and practice of computer science. And you are automatically subscribed to ACM's TechNews newsletter (which is now also available for non-members). The good thing about this newsletter is that it provides digests of mostly comprehensive articles so you not only get the meaningless first 200 words.

The first headline of today's issue is really scary: Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man. It brings to mind memories of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. It finally has arrived: The Age of Technology (as in: supporting role actor rises to stardom) is coming, and it's coming hard. The article speaks about evolving technology that is becoming increasingly autonomous and indistinguishable from human behaviour (medical robots supposed to be empathic). It's strange how so many prophecies turn out to be true, and sooner than predicted.

The good thing is also in the article:

"[...] in choosing Asilomar for the discussions, the group purposefully evoked a landmark event in the history of science. In 1975, the world’s leading biologists also met at Asilomar to discuss the new ability to reshape life by swapping genetic material among organisms. Concerned about possible biohazards and ethical questions, scientists had halted certain experiments. The conference led to guidelines for recombinant DNA research, enabling experimentation to continue."

So in that regard it seems that we are taking a path that is different from the one in the artistic predictions about the not-too-distant future: We notice the emerging problem and install safety features to avoid the dragons. Hopefully, we will succeed in that and our grandchilds won't have "The Second Renaissance" in their history textbooks.

Transparency. As in "see through and don't notice".

I don't remember who pointed it out recently or where I read it. Someone with good observation skills noted that, for computer scientists, calling something "transparent" means that you can see through it and not even notice it, while most sane people would probably expect that thing's casing to be transparent instead, thus revealing everything what's inside.

The absurdity of this notion of transparency struck me again today when I was reading a Java Magazin article about architectural refactoring in large software projects. The author stated that, if someone uses a public API method, it would be completely transparent to him whether this involves a single method of 300 lines of code or multiple classes that cover the required logic behind it. Every sane man on this planet would probably disagree, because in fact one does not see anything of the underlying implementation and it thus cannot be transparent.

In Germany, we currently have a big discussion about manager salaries. Citizens and politicians demand more transparency. What they mean is: Make the casing of the "manager salaries box" transparent, so that we see what's inside.

It reminds me about a conversation between Marco and someone from Stanford. The Stanfordian made a wish: Use simple language for people who don't share your area of expertise. A wise wish.

Added info about projects, papers and activities

I added some info about my current projects, as well as my (still short) list of publications and reviewing activities. My CV is in preparation and will be on-line once I figured out how to include images in a reasonable manner.

As far as my actual dissertation is concerned, I'm still unsure what to write. Anyway, thanks again for stopping by. If you like, we can be connected on the XING social networking platform. I'll tell you where to find my XING profile. :)

Welcome to my research page!

in

Hi there and thanks for stopping by. In the future, I will use this site to post about things related to my work at the University of Dortmund and my endavours to get a PhD in computer science.

Have a look around. In the next days, I will add lists of my accepted papers and reviewing activities. In addition, you will find some info about the software projects I am involved in and some more general infos.

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