“Computer Science is going to be ubiquitous and we have to live with that”

Antonio Fernández Anta talks about his career highlights and how Computer Science is going to affect our future. Second part of the interview given by the IMDEA Networks’ researcher

25 October 2019

Next November 5th the researcher and professor Antonio Fernández Anta will receive the ARITMEL Award, one of the four National Computer Science Awards jointly granted by the Spanish Computer Science Association (SCIE) and the BBVA Foundation. Due to this award, we’ve asked him about some aspects of his professional career.

What is the research result you have achieved that gives you most satisfaction?

Usually, when one looks back, the research areas or the results that you like the most aren’t the ones that had more impact or recognition from the community. For instance, I like a lot the fact that we were among the pioneers in a model of networking which is called “adversarial queuing theory”. We were like the second paper on that topic, and that paper actually came out back to back with the original paper in the same journal. That topic was even used at Stanford for one of their graduate level exams. So it was a very nice feeling the fact that people caught attention, they looked at your research, they use it and they appreciate it.

What is the role of Computer Science in the future of society?

I don’t think I’m revealing anything new if I say that Computer Science is going to be ubiquitous. We’re going to have Computer Science everywhere; we have it everywhere. Our cellphones, something that many of us cannot live without anymore, are fully Computer Science devices. Everything you have in there is algorithms, but this is going beyond that. Now, a lot in our life is based on algorithms, even if we don’t want it. Unfortunately, sometimes is not for the best. Right now we are exposed to news based on our usage of social networks and the news that we see very often are selected by social network companies. On the other hand, that is also saving us a lot of time. You know, when we’re selecting products to buy, we’re looking for a certain product, we have all these recommendation engines that tell you “look, if you’re looking for this particular product maybe you are interested in this other”. So, Computer Science is going to be ubiquitous. It’s going to be surrounding us continuously and we have to live with that. And we have to be careful not to misuse it and know how far that is going to go. On the other hand, the same way users have to be aware of what they’re using, regulators must make sure that there’s no abuse from the Computer Science companies, especially.

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