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February 9, 2011

Speaker: Dr. Eugene Fiume, Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto

Title: Will Digital Media Reshape the World?

Abstract: Is there anything new under the sun? Is digital media truly a new form of communication or does it merely repurpose and extend what we already have? As digital media becomes increasingly commoditized and ubiquitous, one naturally wonders what is to come. Some of the directions upon which I will reflect appear to be more ironic than serious, and yet they may become key issues in the field. What makes a message real or true or effective? Can one do computer graphics without a display? Is there human-computer interaction without a human? Will non-monetizable digital media become an economic engine? Can digital media become a positive force of change in the world? As we reflect on the role of digital media, both as a field of research and as commodity that is created and consumed globally, I shall examine these questions, cautiously concluding that while there isn't anything new under the sun, the world is indeed being reshaped.

Biography: Eugene Fiume is Professor and past Chair of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, where he co-directs the Dynamic Graphics Project and is director of the Masters of Science in Applied Computing programme.

Following his BMath degree from the University of Waterloo and MSc and PhD degrees from the University of Toronto, he was an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow and Maitre Assistant at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. He was awarded an NSERC University Research Fellowship in 1987 and returned to the University of Toronto to a faculty position. He was Associate Director of the Computer Systems Research Institute, and was a Visiting Professor at the University of Grenoble, France. His past board memberships include the Scientific Advisory Board of GMD (Germany, now Fraunhofer); the Board of Directors of Truespectra Inc. (Toronto, acquired by Scene7), and CITO (Ottawa); the Advisory Boards of CastleHill Ventures, PlateSpin (acquired by Novell), BitFlash, TrueSpectra, OctigaBay Systems (acquired by Cray Systems); and the Executive Advisory Board of the IBM Lab in Toronto. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Tucows Inc. (Toronto), and is on the Advisory Boards of the Max-Planck Center for Visual Computing and Communication (Germany), NGRAIN Corporation (Vancouver), View22 Technology Inc. (Richmond Hill), and the Department of CSE at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Eugene has participated in many task forces and reviews of research institutes around the world. He has had a long association with the computer graphics and electronic media industries in Canada and the U.S., notably with Alias|wavefront, where he was Director of Research and Usability Engineering while on leave from the university. He now works with several companies in an advisory capacity on both technological and business issues. He also works with venture capital companies on due diligence and strategy.

Eugene's research interests include most aspects of realistic computer graphics, including computer animation, modelling natural phenomena, and illumination, as well as strong interests in Internet based imaging, image repositories, software systems and parallel algorithms. He has written two books and (co-)authored over 105 papers on these topics. Twelve doctoral students and 24 master's students have graduated under his supervision. He has won two teaching awards, as well as Innovation Awards from ITRC for research in computer graphics and Burroughs-Wellcome for biomedical research. He was also the papers chair for SIGGRAPH 2001, past chair of the SIGGRAPH Awards Committee, and was General Co-chair of Symposium for Computer Animation 2008.

His industrial interests include technology transfer in the Information Technology area, Internet-based applications, digital media, wireless and multimedia systems, web-based services, large-scale computation, and the interaction of information technology and business.

On occasion, he manages to sneak a few hours of sleep.

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