The University gave him a quarter-mil- lion-dollar salary and a stack of tides. He wants to reshape the whole computing infrastructure at Carolina to enhance coop- eration and discovery. But the chance to establish the Renais- sance Computing Instirute, which he affec- tionately calls Renci, was the real draw, he says. The initiative is funded jointly by Car- olina, N.C. State and Duke and draws cholars from all three. Reed talks of bridging a "gulf" between the sciences and humanities, which often blocks revolutionary ways of tackling prob- lems. "There's sometimes disdain across that culture gap;' he said. "But the sanle basic human impulses are motivating everyone's creative process, even though the medium of their eA'Pression is different." For example, the instirute is working to predict the path ofa tornado to wiiliin two city blocks - a gigantic computational chal- lenge - a.nd devise the best system for warning people in tl1e 15 to 20 minutes before it strikes, a social science problem. And it's building software to help researchers cooperate to study seemingly unrelated diseases such as breast cancer, heart disease and alcoholism. Genetics and environment combine in all the diseases, and studying them together might suggest innovative treatments. Reed is determined for the institute's work to change society, not just generate journal articles. As idealistic as much ofhis talk is, Reed feels an urgency. "Think about the rate of technological change 100 years ago, when the automobile first appeared, and decades before, when the railroads and the telephone appeared," he said. "The rate ofchange was such that it ook us a generation to internalize tl1at tech- nology and develop a social process for it:' But, Reed observes, tl1e world no longer has the luxury of a generation, and he believes Renci can help to speed soci- ety's integration of technology. "The rate of technological change has created economic dislocation in North Carolina and other parts of the world," he said."Whole industries can rise and die in a decade."
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In fact, people choose to live at Carol Woods
elebrating 25 Years of Learning, Growing,
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CAROLINA ALUMNI REVIEW