Can the Earth Project Simulate Everything?

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I remember reading this paper some years back that proposed that we are all living in a computer simulation. It’s a fun idea to think about, especially as I sit here listening to the Tron Legacy soundtrack.

Now, in what could be one of the most ambitious computer projects ever conceived, an international group of scientists are aiming to create a simulator that can replicate everything happening on Earth. Nicknamed the Living Earth Simulator (LES), the project aims to encapsulate the human actions that shape societies and the environmental forces that define the physical world.

Many problems we have today – including social and economic instabilities, wars, disease spreading – are related to human behaviour, but there is apparently a serious lack of understanding regarding how society and the economy work,” says Dr Helbing, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, who chairs the FuturICT project which aims to create the simulator.

Dr. Helbing goes on to say that we are already generating and collecting the data we would need to run on the simulator, but a series of supercomputing centers would have to be built to crunch the world in real time.

Update: CBC News has posted an interview with U.K professor Steven Bishop, who is part of a team that is building the Living Earth Simulator.