CS598CXZ Assignment #1: Visionary Essay
(due 11:59pm, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014)

    Write a brief visionary essay (500~1000 words): "As We May Think in 2014". Innovations are often motivated by a disatisfaction with our current living environment and a vision about how to address this disatisfaction. Being able to assess our living environment and envision how we may change our world for the better is necessary for identifying important long-term research problems. For example, the visionary article "As We May Think" written by Vannevar Bush in 1945 stimulated research in information retrieval in early days. The Memex machine vision laid out in this article was based on an analysis of the world then, which led to the recognition of many inadequancies of the conventional library systems in helping a researcher to collect, select, and digest all the accumulated knowledge in the world. The Memex machine was then "designed" to remove these inadequancies. Do a similar analysis of the world today (in 2014) in terms of information services provided to people by all kinds of search engines, databases, and other information systems that you are aware of, identify a few major "missing functions" for a particular type of users (e.g., researchers, shoppers, students), and propose a "Memex2014 machine" that would support such missing functions in a specific way. Don't be afraid of using your wide imagination, and don't be constrained by the concern whether we will actually be able to build such a machine in next five or even 10 years; instead, try to maximize the novelty and impact. That is, try to think of something that is (1) definitely useful (if built, someone (e.g., yourself) will definitely use it), and (2) clearly novel (it does something that no existing system does). The goal here is for you to form a novel bold vision, which we will use as reference information for providing guidance to you in designing your course project as well as for selecting relevant papers to read later in the semester.

    You may find it helpful to read the 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century identified by National Academy of Engineering, which to some extent represent the "biggest pains" that we are facing in the 21st century. Most of them are not directly related to our course, but some are (e.g., health, medicine, speeding scientific discovery, computer-aided learning). Thus if no obvious idea comes to your mind, you may consider writing your essay on one of those relevant ones.

    You may also find useful to think about your own needs that are not (well) satisfied by any existing system. For example, is there a need for an intelligent system to help you finish your tasks as a student? help you search for information in the UIUC domain?

    Post your essay using the following wiki page (you'll need to login with your Active Directory account):
    link to assignment 1 wiki page.
    Your essay will be graded as either fail or pass based on the length of the essay. Your essay should contain at least 500 words to get full marks.