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Euro project aims to simulate life, the universe, and everything

(With apologies to Douglas Adams.) Science Daily reported this week on a new effort in Europe to simulate life on Earth, and although they haven’t yet added “the universe and everything” it is still pretty freaking ambitious

Scientists are planning to use the largest supercomputers to simulate life on Earth, including the financial system, economies and whole societies. The project is called “Living Earth Simulator” and part of a huge EU research initiative named FuturIcT.

…The FuturIcT project aims to bring many efforts of this kind together in order to simulate the entire globe, including all the diverse interactions of social systems and of the economy with our environment. The concept for the project has already been deeply explored within several European research projects.

…In a practical sense, the scientists behind the FuturIcT project foresee the development of crises observatories and decision-support systems for politicians and business leaders. “Such observatories would detect advance warning signs of many different kinds of emerging problems,” says Dirk Helbing, “including large-scale congestion, financial instabilities, the spreading of diseases, environmental change, resource shortages and social conflicts.” The FuturIcT project led by him aims to put the power of today’s information technology to work in creating the tools needed to address the challenges of humanity in the future, and to ensure social and economic well-being around the globe.

George Soros is a fan

“The team of scientists that Dr. Helbing has gathered together can, I believe, make a significant contribution to the understanding of the evolution and change in societies as they meet the formidable issues of governance, climate change, sustainable economic balance that we are all faced with in the coming decades.”

So, they clearly don’t have a prayer of being successful today, but the only other thing that’s certain about an effort like this is that if they don’t start they’ll never get there.

More info at the FuturIcT website.

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