Jon A Preston

Game, Simulation, and Social Space Research

ACM Meeting
Thursday, October 2nd

Neo-Shamans: Computing as Indistinguishable from Magic

Arthur C. Clarke said in 1973 that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It is this magic in the box that we can explore and create that draws many to computing. Among other uses for computing, simulations and modeling allow us to better understand business, science, society, and nature; data visualization and analysis tools allow for new ways of examining phenomenon; and interactive games open doorways into worlds of wonder. To many, this is magic. To us, it is our profession.

The shaman in ancient cultures provided a means of connecting the natural world to the unseen world. Today, 1s and 0s make up a vast, unseen realm that we explore and interact with via computing devices. We as computing professionals act as the conduit to this unseen world. And as the shaman of old, we perform healing (repairing our friends’ and relatives’ broken computers), tell the future (by designing emerging devices and theories that shape the world), and tell stories (by creating interactive games, simulations, and other digital content).

This talk will be a fun exploration of how we as computing professionals shape the future and have a significant impact on the world around us.