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"Can We Avoid Catastrophic Failures of Computer Networks?"

March 31, 2005

  • Date: Thursday, March 31, 2005 
  • Time: 11:00 a.m. 
  • Place: Woodward 149

Dr. Hermann Maurer <> 
Dean, Faculty of Computer Science Graz University of Technology and Director,
Institute for Hypermedia Systems JOANNEUM RESEARCH, Graz, Austria

The number of viruses and other computer threatening software is increasing at alarming speed. Even if we act decisively, (which we don’t) the likelihood of a large scale and long-term failure of all computers and computer networks is high. Such failure will not be caused by some super-hacker, but rather by a well-planned cyber-attack. The consequences of a serious failure are catastrophic. Since our dependency on computers and computer networks is steadily increasing, consequences will be worse the later such a breakdown occurs! In this talk we argue why a failure is likely and what it will cause if we do not take precautions that involve technical, economical and political decisions that are fairly far-reaching.

Born in Vienna, Austria, Maurer studied mathematics and computer science at the Universities of Vienna and Calgary, and was Assistant and later Associate Professor for Computer Science at the University of Calgary 1966-1971. He then took on various positions as full professor at a number of universities, and is now at the Graz University of Technology specializing in networked multimedia systems and their applications to knowledge management, learning, digital libraries, museums, and societal implications of new developments in computers. As hobby he is writing a series of Science Fiction novels. Some of his main accomplishments include: Dean of Faculty of Computer Science with about 200 researchers and 2500 students, head of two research institutes in Graz. Published some 600 papers and 20 books, half of them technical, the most recent on “Learning Support Systems for Organizational Learning” (2004). The other half of his books are Science Fiction. He has supervised some 500 M.Sc. and 40 Ph.D. theses, founded 16 companies and a number of international conferences and journals. Maurer holds two honorary doctorates, is member of two academies of science, and has been awarded many other distinctions. He has been the project leader of some 20 multimillion-dollar projects

NOTE: The first 80 persons attending the talk will get a free copy of the speaker’s book: “The Paranet- The Breakdown of the Internet”.