[hcs-d] Fwd: [Programming] Talk - Kentaro Toyama, MSR

prabhas pokharel pokharel at fas.harvard.edu
Thu Apr 9 16:27:30 EDT 2009

Should be Awesome!
Microsoft Research India is doing some great stuff with technology in


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Matt Welsh <mdw at eecs.harvard.edu>
Date: Thu, Apr 9, 2009 at 4:19 PM
Subject: [Programming] Talk - Kentaro Toyama, MSR
To: Syrah Group Web Page <syrah at eecs.harvard.edu>,
programming at eecs.harvard.edu, econcs at eecs.harvard.edu

This talk should be very interesting. I realize it's at an odd time
but I hope many of you can come.

TITLE: Computer Science Research for Global Development
Kentaro Toyama, Microsoft Research Bangalore

Tuesday, April 14
Pierce Hall 100-F

On the same planet where there are 1.4 billion Internet users, a far
less fortunate 1.4 billion people survive below the World Bank's
definition of the poverty line. The same technology that has
transformed our lives-the lives of the wealthiest people on the planet-
also remains out of reach and irrelevant for the poorest. How do you
design user interfaces for an illiterate migrant worker? Can you keep
five rural schoolchildren from fighting over one PC? What value is
technology to a farmer earning $1 a day? The young field of
"information and communication technology for development" (ICT4D)
asks these kinds of questions in the expectation that computing and
communication technologies can contribute to the socio-economic
development of the world's poorest communities. In this talk, I'll
introduce the Technology for Emerging Markets group (
) at Microsoft Research India, where an interdisciplinary team of
researchers explores solutions in the context of agriculture,
education, healthcare, microfinance, and other domains of development.

There are several ongoing debates in ICT4D research, including
questions about the role of computer science, project sustainability,
and multidisciplinarity with academic integrity. I'll discuss these
issues in the context of some of our projects. I hope to show that
while technology alone rarely supplies the answer to the deep problems
of poverty, technologists can make a significant difference as long as
we retain equal measures of skepticism about the brash claims of
technology and optimism about its true potential.

Kentaro Toyama is co-founder and assistant managing director of
Microsoft Research India (MSR India), which opened in Bangalore in
January, 2005. In addition to his responsibilities to MSR India
overall, Kentaro leads the Technology for Emerging Markets research
group, and is a co-founder of the IEEE/ACM International Conference on
Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD).
Prior to MSR India, Kentaro spent seven years at MSR in Redmond (WA)
and Cambridge (UK) working on computer vision, multimedia, and
geographic information systems. In 2002, he took personal leave from
Microsoft to teach mathematics at Ashesi University in Ghana. Kentaro
earned his Ph.D. in computer science at Yale University and received a
bachelor's degree in physics from Harvard University.

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