Featured in Five is a monthly section where we pose five questions to a Computing Reviews featured reviewer. Here are the responses from our March featured reviewer, Salvatore Flavio Pileggi (University of Queensland, Australia).
Q: What is the most important thing that's happened in computing in the past 10 years?
A: Looking at computing in a wide context and at its social implications, I guess that enabling online social networks at a global scale has been the real "big thing," especially if they are considered within an always-connected world, where the smart phone is a "must."
Connecting millions of people—able to actively produce and share content anytime/anywhere—has radically changed everyday life. It's much more than a broad channel to express opinions; because of social networks, people have changed behaviors in many aspects of their personal and professional lives. The ways they interact with each other and are involved in politics have changed; the media has changed; the world has changed.
Q: By the end of your career, where do you think computer science will have taken us? What are you working on that might contribute to that?
A: Tricky question. I hope technology will contribute to a better world. To me, it's not as obvious as it may seem. I'm a computer scientist. I'm currently working on different aspects of computational science and eResearch. My research focuses on knowledge representation, data engineering, and analytics.
I never thought in terms of personal ambition. I'm a researcher because I love research, which is part of me and of my life. Currently, I'm happy to wake up and go to work. Should it be different in the future, then I will leave research immediately and without any regret.
I want to think that at the end of my career—tomorrow, after tomorrow, or whenever it will be—I will have done something useful that will contribute to a better world.
Q: Who is your favorite historical figure? Why?
A: It’s hard to say. I was born in Italy. My primary and secondary education was based on ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Indeed, I like mythology much more than history. I would have had a good answer about my favorite mythological figure!
Reflecting a bit, if I had to choose only one single historical figure, I would say Mahatma Gandhi. Why? That is really easy:
"Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man."
"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."
Do I really need to explain?
Q: If you weren't working in the computer science field, what would you be doing instead?
A: Assuming an involvement in another field of science, I would have liked working with nature and animals. Working in marine biology would have been great.
If not involved in science, I very much like sports and the culture that underpins them. I would have enjoyed working in that world.
Q: What is your favorite type of music?
A: It depends on what I'm doing actually: when I'm chilling out, I normally like to hear songs that remind me of something, someone, or some place; while working out, I prefer "motivational" songs. Generally speaking, '80s music sounds really good to me.