Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez
Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez speaking at the Electrical Systems Resilience and the Cascadia Subduction Zone Event course.

Oregon State University in collaboration with Portland State University held a one-day course on June 30, 2017 for power systems engineers and related professionals concerned with solutions to the threat of Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquakes and tsunamis.

The course was part of a grant from the Oregon Talent Council to support training for the Oregon workforce in disaster preparedness as it relates to electrical system resiliency.

Members of 17 different companies or other organizations came to the event including representatives from the Bonneville Power Administration, Portland General Electric, Central Lincoln PUD, Pacific Power and the Eugene Water and Electric Board.

The speakers were Ted Brekken, Jinsub Kim, Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez of Oregon State University; Leon Kempner of the Bonneville Power Administration; and Yumei Wang from the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

Ted Brekken
Ted Brekken presenting at the Electrical Systems Resilience course.

Videos from the Oregon State speakers are available on a playlist at the OSU EECS YouTube Channel. Or the individual talks are:

Other training supported by the Oregon Talent Council grant includes an on-campus course that Brekken taught in the spring term of 2017, and an on-line course that will be released this summer by the Oregon State University Office of Professional and Continuing Education meant for practicing professionals.

The School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Oregon State University is initiating a new extracurricular program to provide more hands-on learning opportunities for students. The Mastery Challenge program is based on a concept called gamification which uses elements of game playing, such as leader boards and badges, to motivate participants to gain new abilities such as 3D modeling and Python programming.

“The program is designed to help students apply the knowledge they learn in classes to practical skills that they will need for jobs when they graduate,” said Don Heer, instructor of electrical and computer engineering. Experiential learning is a focus for Heer who has also created the TekBots program, which integrates course content with building a robot; and the CreateIT Collaboratory, an internship program for students to work with outside clients to create prototypes.

To participate, students login to the Mastery Challenge website with their university account to see the list of challenges for which they can earn achievements. Participants can work on their own, or get help by contacting students who already have that achievement. Prizes will be awarded to students with the highest number of achievements each term. Helping other participants is another way for students to earn achievements.

Peers also participate in the evaluation process. To earn an achievement, a participant must demonstrate their ability by uploading a video or document to the website for review. Students who already have that achievement can recommend to Heer if the application should be accepted or denied. Heer then makes the final decision.

The Mastery Challenge program is open to anyone at Oregon State — students from other majors, faculty and staff can participate. Initially the program will include abilities in electrical engineering and computer science, but Heer’s vision is that the program will expand across the university, so students can earn achievements in a wide variety of disciplines.

Questions about the program can be directed to Don Heer.

Could artificial intelligence take over the world? The question captured the attention of the media this year when Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk spoke publically about the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI).

Gates said he is “concerned about super intelligence,” Hawking warned that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” and Musk described AI as “our biggest existential threat.”

Tom Dietterich, president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and a distinguished professor of computer science at Oregon State University, has been busy this year giving the academic perspective on the issue for articles, video and radio. He was the plenary speaker at Wait What? a future technology forum hosted by DARPA on September 9-11, 2015.

In an article by Digital Trends in February, Dietterich was tapped for his expertise on the topic:

Dietterich lists bugs, cyber-attacks and user interface issues as the three biggest risks of artificial intelligence — or any other software, for that matter. “Before we put computers in control of high-stakes decisions,” he says, “our software systems must be carefully validated to ensure that these problems do not arise.” It’s a matter of steady, stable progress with great attention to detail, rather than the “apocalyptic doomsday scenarios” that can so easily capture the imagination when discussing AI. Read more

In July, Dietterich was interviewed for NPR’s On Point “Managing the Artificial Intelligence Risk” during which he tackled a question from a caller who argued that robots should be programmed to love.

He responded, “My sense is that we should make a very clear distinction between robotic artificial intelligence and humans. I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about a robot loving anything…Love is a relationship between people.”

When interviewer, Tom Ashbrook, pressed further, saying, “But if one day AI runs the world and does not recognize love…

Dietterich jumped in to say, “We will not let AI run the world… It’s a technology that should be used to enhance our humanity.”

You can listen to or download the entire show from the On Point website. Dietterich’s portion begins at minute 36.

Dietterich was also featured by Business Insider, Business Insider AustraliaFedScoop, Microsoft Research, PC MagazineTechInsiderU.S. Department of Defense; was filmed by Communications of the ACM and KEZI; and has been mentioned in articles by the Wall Street Journal, Tech Times, and The Corvallis Advocate.

 

Oregon State press release posted 7/24/2015

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Open Source Lab in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University has significantly upgraded the FTP service used by the open source software community and increased its download speeds by 900 percent.

This service can now handle millions of additional download requests per day, and serves as a critical link in the distribution of open-source software around the world.

With recent improvements, the lab increased the combined download speed to 30 gigabytes per second, and storage capacity to 9 terabytes, a 50 percent increase over what was previously available. Other performance improvements include a 100 percent increase in peak hard disk throughput, and a 60 percent increased capacity in web traffic.

“We’re on the leading edge,” said Lance Albertson, director of the laboratory. “We’re the only group providing this service using machines with the POWER8 architecture. This upgrade has already been noticed by many of our hosted projects due to the improved speed.”

IBM POWER8 server
IBM donated three servers with POWER8 architecture for the OSL upgrade. Pictured here is the one located in New York.

This cluster, which has locations in New York City, Chicago and Corvallis, Ore., hosts 85 open source software projects, whose users rely on this service to download applications and patches.

The content is mirrored to three servers so that it provides the fastest and most reliable service possible. Users include system administrators from around the world keeping Linux servers up to date, and end-users downloading the latest version of applications such as LibreOffice or Inkscape. In the coming months, the lab plans to open up the service to more projects.

IBM donated the three new servers that made the recent upgrade possible. Additional industry partners for the project included TDS Telecom and Google.

“The OSL has provided hosting services that have been key to our Apache, Power and Open software development programs for many years,” said Keith Brown, director of IBM Systems Technical Strategy & Product Security. “We’re continuing to build on that partnership.”

In addition to providing open-source services to the community, the OSL provides Oregon State students with hands-on training in open source development.

————-

For more technical details about the upgrade, see Lance Albertson’s blog Leveling Up With POWER8.