Prof. Jerry Kang on Pervasive Computing

Prof. Jerry Kang, on the faculty of law at UCLA full-time and a Visiting Professor this year at HLS (check out his CivPro class), is focused on the problems raised by pervasive computing, which he thinks of as convergence of ubiqutous, embedded and animated.  Prof. Kang calls it “PerC.”  He’s brought his research to the Berkman Center today as part of our speaker series.  He’s astonishingly bright and a compelling speaker — if you can keep up.  He and his colleagues at UCLA have developed a large interdisciplinary research project intended to carry out a serious inquiry into the social consequences of the embedding of the public sphere.  In short: what might pervasive computing do to society?  He’s got a paper — and lots more research to follow — coming out shortly on this topic. 

As Berkman Center senior fellow Andrew McLaughlin put it, Prof. Kang’s work is a great example of what can happen with CS types talk a lot to law types (not to mention architects and others), and that talk throws off work that’s genuinely interdisciplinary.

Urs Gasser wants to know “what is really new?” with respect to pervasive computing.  Urs says that it is a) the granularity of information collected and used and b) that this information is used on a large, controlled/controllable scale.  Prof. Kang thinks it’s the much lower transaction costs of getting the information.  Not to mention the context specificity of getting the message at the right time and location to do something about it.  Does 3G make a bookstore just the dealer showroom for Amazon.com, because someone can look up the book that you like and order it from your phone?

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