Microsoft tycoon shares ideas in campus video conference

FAMU participated in the SuperComputing Global Conference 2005, a conference highlighting Access Grid technology uses in medicine, education and art this week.

“The SuperComputing Conference showcases highly technical computers,” said Tiki Suarez, a business administration professor and coordinator of the event.

Mario Otkins, 19 a freshman business administration student from Tampa, attended one session to learn about the new technology.

Otkins said it was a “lot of information to take in at one time, but I feel like I’ve learned a lot.”

The SC|05 began Tuesday with a videoconference of the keynote speaker, Bill Gates.

“Bill Gates is working to change the way the world is and drives,” said Bill Kramer, SC 05 conference chair, in his introduction.

Gates’ presentation, titled “The Future of Computing in Science,” showcased the ways that software and technology can help make a difference in research and science.

“Software has moved to the center and it has shown us how far it has come and how far it has to go,” Gates said.

Using supercomputers and XML technology, the time that it takes for researching scientific theories will be cut in half. This will allow for all of the research available to be used more thoroughly.

“We are looking at how different databases could be brought together,” Gates said. “People around the world should be able to use the information.”

To demonstrate the improvements, Gates showed the ways that Project Neptune, which studies gaseous clouds in the ocean, would be able to advance its research.

“If we can understand these clouds, we can understand life itself,” Gates said.

Using the XML and supercomputing technology, sensors could be placed into the clouds that would send the data back immediately in real time.

“It would literally be thousands of sensors that could be controlled in real time,” Gates said.

Gates donates money to AIDS research through a foundation he and his wife Melinda created called the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The supercomputing technology is helping to look for similarities between the varying mutations of HIV.

A presentation on HIV analysis showed the ways that the supercomputer technology could help in that industry. The supercomputers were able to complete the same research on the HIV tests in months that took scientists five years.

This technology is not going to be restricted solely to major corporations. The companies will be using it to make connections in the home better as well. Gates is keeping this in mind as he develops his software.

“We need an approach that scales from the smallest supercomputer that will be inexpensive, to the largest,” Gates said. “All you would have to do is plug into a power source and hook up an Internet connection and you would be able to accelerate your work.”

Gates also expressed how using this technology would help, and not cause more problems in the way energy is used in the future.

“I don’t think that the (energy problems) will be a limiting factor,” Gates said. “My great hope is that science will give us the answers we need (to solve the crisis.) In terms of broad energy, as long as we don’t mess with the eco system, we should have the energy.”

The supercomputing technology will make the connections between computers easier and will cause it to be a more social atmosphere. This kind of connection brings up the security risks that could potentially be involved with that.

“Security has been a top priority for the last three years now (at Microsoft),” Gates said.

Gates is working to make sure that the connections will be safer for users by ensuring that the encryptions and connections are connecting only to what is on the users trusted network. Gates is also working with this technology to create a digital library that will be accessible all through the Internet.

SC 05 sessions continued Wednesday and Thursday, including sessions on collaborative art and collaborative virtual reality and covered other aspects that supercomputing would be able to advance.

Contact Laura Henry at