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4 Ways Computer Science is Changing the World

Computer science is a critical and growing field of study.

Computers and computer scientists have changed the way we live. By 2025 it is estimated that 463 exabytes of data will be created each day globally – which in physical form amounts to 212,765,957 DVDs.  

When we take a look back to 1992, only a meagre 10 websites existed globally. Nearly thirty years later our lives are heavily influenced by advanced computational systems. 

In light of this, we’ve highlighted four ways in which computer science shapes and will continue to change our world, and why it’s worth pursuing as a field of study. 

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1. How computer science enables robots to perform surgery

Robotic surgery has been used by hospitals around the world for around 15 years, but recent advancements continue to revolutionise surgery. 

Innovations in robotics have allowed doctors to take laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery to the next level, allowing for more complex procedures to be performed. This reduces the complications associated with open surgery. 

For example, CMR Surgical has pioneered its Versius surgical robotic system in the NHS. Robotic arms are placed around the patient, directed by a control panel by a nearby surgeon Combined with an augmented 3D visualisation, this remote approach, allows them to perform complex procedures while minimising complications. 

The technology is cost-effective, portable, versatile, and relatively easy to learn. Plus, robotic surgery collects data during the surgery that can be used to improve surgical technique or respond to the patient’s condition in real time. 

Systems like the Versius require computer scientists to collaborate with medical professionals and engineers in a very sophisticated way. Computer scientists have to design operating systems, carry out software development with appropriate programming languages, and produce the hardware and software to bring a working robot to life. 



2. How computer science maps ancient villages in the Amazon rainforest 

Computer scientists have developed cutting-edge satellite data surveying, to produce new research which suggests that the Amazonian region hosted a larger population than previously thought

Archaeologists and anthropologists have been able to use data gathered from satellite imagery to identify ancient geoglyphs (earthworks used for ceremonies). 

Subsequently, researchers were able to use their findings to predict where ancient sites might be located, creating advanced computer models that assessed elevation, precipitation and soil pH as well as predicting population densities. 

The research suggests that indigenous people of the Amazon built interconnected and fortified villages that spanned an immense 1,100 miles that flourished between 1200 and 1500 A.D.

All this is possible with the help of software engineering, data analysis, and other advanced technologies developed in the field of computer science. This is the kind of problem solving that computer scientists can turn their versatile skills to.

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3. Artificial Intelligence and Climate Change

Artificial intelligence (AI) is at the forefront of the digital transformation being employed to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. Climate change is one of the defining concerns of our time and  AI is being employed to help us better understand the effects of storms, natural disasters and anthropogenic environmental damage.  

For instance, JJAIBOT is an AI bot that uses predictive analytics to examine air pollution and areas at risk of poor-quality air and can accurately predict which days pollution will be most severe. 

Additionally, climate change has spurned on a new discipline in computer science: climate informatics. This is an area of computer science research that brings together data and climate science to predict extreme weather and reconstruct past conditions. It uses large-scale data models and advanced computational systems to forecast the impact of extreme weather and climate. 

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4. Fighting COVID and alleviating poverty in the developing world



Computer science is helping the fight against COVID by galvanising scientific communities in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. 

Machine learning can process datasets and design advanced computer models to predict how the disease is likely to mutate or spread. Advanced computer models can also map out interactions among infected residents, regionally as well as nationally.

Beyond epidemiology, the psychological effects of social isolation and loneliness remain key challenges during the pandemic. The possible long-term effects of lockdown have been well documented, along with the psychological distress caused by quarantine and social isolation. 

For those with limited access to digital technology, the psychological effects can be particularly severe. As such, academics at Northumbria University have launched the Togather website, a tool to support groups of family or friends to transform their WhatsApp conversations into a story booklet for a loved one who may be isolated. 

Tackling poverty

Computers have been instrumental in reducing poverty across the world’s poorest regions. The rise of mobile technology and the Internet of Things is already having a positive effect on poor countries in Africa and Asia, especially in regions which have not embraced industrialisation. 

By 2025, it is predicted that 475 million people on the African continent will be mobile internet users which has positive effects on Africa’s e-commerce market.  

Enabling commerce at both a macro and micro level is key to alleviating poverty in developing countries. But computer science also offers up a lot of help to people living in countries where traditional commerce is unreliable or corrupt. 

In countries suffering from hyperinflation and political instability such as Venezuela, over 2,500 merchants are using Dash, a cryptocurrency rival to Bitcoin as tender. Because cryptocurrency isn’t routed through a bank or third party and is peer-to-peer, governments are not able to monitor or tax the amount at that point. 

For many Venezuelans, cryptocurrency allows them to send and receive money from abroad and make other transactions without worrying about corrupt bureaucrats acquiring their funds. 

The field of computer science has the potential to affect and improve people’s lives and livelihoods in an infinite number of ways. Just as the world is facing some of its greatest challenges, computer scientists might be the ones who can come up with the most effective solutions. 


Drive Digital Change: Join Our Computer Science Masters 

For anyone looking to help solve these problems and take their career to the next level, Northumbria University’s distance learning Computer Science MSc is designed to develop experts in artificial intelligence, machine learning, web development and programming. 

With two pathways, Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, you’ll be ready to use machine learning and data sciences to change the future and employ cutting-edge technologies to drive innovation. 



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