Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dr Qasim Sheikh floats the idea of Innopedia

In his address to the conference participants, Dr. Qasim Sheikh of ICT R&D defined innovation as the removal of constraining factors from the value chain. He cited many examples and said IBA is in a unique position to help students sharpen their innovative skills. He expressed his desire to have an innopedia for Pakistan, where young Pakistanis could contribute their innovate ideas and knowledge in order to identify bottlenecks in the current value chains. Once such a repository gains a critical mass it would prove to be a very valuable resource for young Pakistani innovators and entrepreneurs.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Sub-generator in a Power plant melts down!!

Dr Akhtar Kalam - a prominent ICT researcher from Melbourne, Australia spoke this morning at ICIT 2009. Dr. Kalam started by congratulating the organizers on holding the conference. Dr. Kalam, who spoke on IT security, emphasized that information security affects all sectors of the economy, thereby affecting us all. He stated that most viruses are carried through the email network. MyDoom the fastest growing worm was propogated through email network. Corporate Wide Area Networks are the biggest targets, with financial services sector being the most prone of them all. An interesting observation made by Dr. Kalam was that the actual number of all kinds of worm and virus attacks has actually consistently decreased since year 2001, as opposed to claims made by organizations making anti-virus programs. There has also been an accompany decrease in average financial loss faced by organizations. Dr. Kalam also showed off some interesting videos to drive his point home, especially a video showing a power plant melting down as a result of a 15-year old hacker attack generated a lot of interest among the students. Finally, he stressed the need to have a National Information Infrastructure in order to deal with the security threats.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dr. Qasim Shaikh on future Universities

Very impressive talk from Dr. Qasim Shaikh. His opinion on changing university's culture to more knowledge based scalable academic institutions that open opportunities for innovation is really the future. This is also suggested by Don Norman in his essay "Technology and the rise of for profit university" in which he talks that how ICT is going to change the face of Universities. style of teaching, learning pedagogy and business model. He suggests that traditional universities suffer a number of serious defects, such as teaching is concerned only as the primary function and faculty costs are high. These universities are very labor intensive, for the style of teaching has hardly changed in the past 1,000 years, with the most important innovation being perhaps the invention of the blackboard some 200 years ago.

Traditional universities are geared around full-time students who live close by. Working adults have to struggle to fit night and evening courses into their crowded lives, usually at local teaching colleges, for the more established universities seldom make concessions to the struggles of those who must work, or who cannot afford the costs, or who don't live within convenient distance. The result is a system that is expensive (labor intensive), elitist (difficult and ill-suited entrance requirements), and aimed at certain parameters of quality.

The opportunity for innovative new educational movements seems clear. Course material of all the leading Universities are available online and can be accessed by any, no matter where they live or what time they access. Students learn throughout their lives, and use more problem based or case based approached to solve a problem. They learn at their own convenience and want to be less constrained by any particular time frame. Let some courses be a week long, others a year. Let some require practice and experiment. Let others be mostly reading and writing. Rigorously monitor the quality of teaching; make the quality of instruction paramount.

This will dramatically change underlying rationale for the university, to say nothing of the cost structure. Professors may spend most of their time seeking knowledge, and students learning what is required, not what is taught!

Best Talk so far

The ICIT2009 took off this morning with flying colors. Thanks largely to the tremendous efforts put in by the volunteering students.

The most interesting talk so far has been the one given by Dr. Richard Harvey (East Anglia UK) on Lip reading by computers. The presentation kept the audience deeply interested throughout. We all developed a better appreciation of the difficulty of teaching a computer to lip read and also learned that as humans we all lip read as a part of everyday communication, which explains why sometimes it is harder to understand a foreign accent on a telephonic connection. We also learned that different languages have different characteristic lip movements that could also be used as a guideline for computer programs trying to lip read.

I look forward to hearing more interesting talks later in the day.

Some photos of Inaugural session (ICICT 2009)

Shoukat Tarin inaugurated ICICT 2009

Mr. Shoukat Tarin, Federal Minister for Finance, while presiding the inaugural session of ICICT stressed the need of E-Governance and supported the idea of implementing it to the grass root level. He also suggested that Academicians and Scientists should look into the problems of rural areas of Pakistan and develop models to implement technology into agriculture sector. He said that 66% of population of Pakistan live in rural areas and should be given share to the new wonders of Information and Communication Technology.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Keynote speaker sessions at ICICT

ICICT is not new to IBA. It is now a regular feature and is famous for its keynote speeches, peer reviewed technical sessions, tutorials and workshops. Hats off to its organizers (Dr. Waseem Khan and his team), who have worked very hard to arrange a number of interesting keynote speeches for the conference this time.

The first keynote session has been arranged on 15th August from 12:00 to 2:00pm, which will be presided by Dr. Khalid J Siddiqui of SUNY Fredonia, USA. Speakers in this session are Dr. Saeed Ghani (IBA Pakistan), Dr. Javed I. Khan (Kent State USA), Dr. Abbas K. Zaidi (George Mason USA), and Dr. Ahad Siddiqui (Taiba KSA). Two invited speaker sessions have also been arranged on the same day, where Dr. Qasim Sheikh (ICT R&D), Dr. Amir Qayum (MAJU) Dr. Ashraf Iqbal (LUMS), Dr. Zaheeruddin Asif (IBA), Dr. Sharifullah and Dr. Mudassar Farooq of NU will be presenting their research ideas.

On the second day of conference, the keynote session begins at 8:30am, which will be presided by Dr. Abad Ali Shah of UET Lahore Pakistan. Speakers in this session are Dr. Khalid Siddiqui (SUNY USA), Dr. El-Syed El-Alfy (KFUPM KSA), Dr. Wan Rozaini Sheik (Utara Malaysia), Dr. Akhtar Kalam (Victoria Australia) and Dr. Richard Harvey (East Anglia UK). Presenters in the second invited session are Dr. Arshad Siddiqui (IBA), Dr. Sajjad Haider (IBA) and Dr. Abad Ali Shah(UET Lahore).

With the presence of such dedicated scientists, the conference is set to create a remarkable impact in the academic fraternity and will open up new directions for research and development in the area of information and communication technology in Pakistan.

I wish this conference a great success.