The 21st Century is about Engineering, Systems and Society

author: A. Richard Newton, College of Engineering, University of California
published: July 26, 2010,   recorded: October 2005,   views: 3139

Related Open Educational Resources

Related content

Report a problem or upload files

If you have found a problem with this lecture or would like to send us extra material, articles, exercises, etc., please use our ticket system to describe your request and upload the data.
Enter your e-mail into the 'Cc' field, and we will keep you updated with your request's status.
Lecture popularity: You need to login to cast your vote.


What’s “big, complex and hairy,” and requires the efforts of an impassioned, interdisciplinary team to tackle? The answer, says A. Richard Newton, is the “one-off problem” – the kind of sprawling social, scientific and engineering puzzle that increasingly challenges contemporary society. Think about the conundrum of affordable healthcare, or emergency preparedness. How do you address such enormous issues? Newton’s answer is CITRIS, the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society. This partnership among academia, government and industry specializes in attacking problems critical to the quality of life, and whose solutions require “societal-scale information systems.” Current CITRIS research includes designing information technology for the energy-deprived developing world. This demands, says Newton, a “complete rethinking of the architecture of information and communication systems.” Work so far points toward wireless technologies in remote villages, with communication antennas flying atop balloons anchored by cables. And on the home front: Newton points out that one-third of the total national outlay on healthcare derives from lab tests -- about 500 billion dollars a year. Could we reduce the tab by coming up with new kinds of testing that don’t require a visit to the office, and whose results could be more efficiently communicated to healthcare providers, Newton wonders. Cracking any of these problems requires an understanding of information systems, and benefits enormously from “passionate individuals” pulling together around a shared vision – “like the moon shot.”

Link this page

Would you like to put a link to this lecture on your homepage?
Go ahead! Copy the HTML snippet !

Write your own review or comment:

make sure you have javascript enabled or clear this field: