Monday, 10 September 2012

Dirk explains the Aims of FuturICT

Dirk Helbing, Scientific Coordinator of FuturICT explains the aims of FuturICT at a recent visit to  SwissNex San Francisco earlier this summer.

Hi, I am Dirk Helbing, and I’m the scientific coordinator of the FuturICT Project.

FuturICT is a project that wants to create new science and technology to promote a sustainable and resilient earth. So it’s about unleashing actually, the power of information systems for the future.

I started off as a physicist and then I did transportation science and now I’m a sociologist, but I am considering myself as a complexity scientist. I am here in San Francisco where I am giving a talk at SwissNex. It was an extremely exciting audience in one of the most innovative areas of the world actually, so I was very much looking forward to this talk in order to get feedback. That feedback was extremely positive and in particular there is also interest in teaming up actually with our project, but also to see how we can bring science and art together.

We are now entering the age of Big Data, and at the same time, an age of hyper-connectivity. That creates huge new opportunities but also challenges. We need to understand how this is going to change our society and economy.
Futurict will bring together data, models and people. It will create open platforms for everybody, so called Data and Model Commons.

The plan of the project is not to connect as many data that we can get, and to create a supercomputer that is going to rule the world and take decisions for us. It’s more about creating new instruments that allow us to get a better, multi perspective view of complex matters that we need to understand.

We are not planning to do a brute force data mining and machine learning exercise, because it’s just a very small percentage of data that actually matters, that is meaningful and that will have an impact on our future and enter our history books.

If we understand conditions for instability but also conditions for resilience and sustainability, and also how to respond flexibly to changing conditions, that will be extremely helpful.

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