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Annual lecture

The Annual lecture in computer science is held every spring on the UNB Fredericton campus. It was established through the generosity of Dr. Colin Ware.

Colin Ware was a professor in the UNB Faculty of Computer Science from 1985 until 1999. During this period Colin cofounded two companies and developed the Fledermaus 3-dimensional geospatial visualization system that is widely used today in oceanography. In 1999, Colin requested that all royalties from his share of the Fledermaus agreement with UNB be transferred to the Faculty of Computer Science for the purpose of funding an annual lecture series.

Past lectures

Randy Connolly, Professor of Mathematics & Computing at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta presents the 2022 lecture.

Lecture abstract

Computer Science faces a gap between its desire to do good and the sometimes harmful effects of its interventions. As such, it is important for higher-education computing programs to do more than simply add in ethics instruction or codes of conduct into their curricula. The remedy to these ills lies less in philosophy and more in fields such as sociology, psychology, anthropology, and political science. That is, because computing is entangled within the human and social lifeworld, computing as an academic discipline needs to move away from engineering-inspired curricular models and integrate the analytic lenses supplied by social science theories and methodologies. This presentation is an extension of Connolly's Communications of the ACM article, "Why Computing Belongs Within the Social Sciences," which has been downloaded over 44000 times since its publication in August 2020.


Randy Connolly is a Professor of Mathematics & Computing at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. His teaching specialties are web development and technology and society studies. His research has oscillated between his two backgrounds of computer science and political science, and includes the teaching of web development, the general pedagogy of computing education, and the social effects of computing.

He is the author of five books, the most recent of which is Fundamentals of Web Development, Third Edition, used by thousands of students annually at hundreds of universities worldwide, and Computing Careers & Disciplines: A Quick Guide for Prospective Students and Career Advisors. He is a long-time editorial board member for both ACM Transactions on Computing Education and ACM Inroads.

PDF version

Ravin Balakrishnan, professor and chair of Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, presented the 2017 lecture.

Lecture abstract

As with most new research endeavours, the push for more “natural” user interfaces can be traced back several decades. Early seminal concept demonstrations like Krueger’s VideoPlace, Wellner’s Digital Desk, and Bolt’s Put That There as well as the voluminous body of tangible user interface work in the 1990s hinted at fascinating interaction possibilities if only underlying enablers like computer vision, speech recognition, and haptics actually worked. Today, many of these technologies are finally at a stage where once dreamy natural interactions can be a reality.

In this rebirth, however, most examples I see tend to slavishly follow the mantra of mimicking the supposedly natural interactions we do in the real world. This, I argue, is a lost opportunity. Lest we follow in the footsteps of the early horseless carriages, we really need to start exploiting the sensing technologies available to us to build interfaces that do not necessarily mimic what is ostensibly “natural”, but rather exploit our ability to learn and adapt to new things while possibly enhancing that which might be natural.

Examples from past and present will illustrate my argument, while also demonstrating that interfaces that at first glance seem completely unnatural, such as the pencil and handwriting, might well be rather appropriate with a tad bit of effort on our part.