While the world reveals ever increasing volumes of data about itself, the behavior of complex living systems like the global economy remain mostly mysterious. Now, an ambitious project aims to gather the world’s knowledge & data streams to drive a single, real-time global model of our planet. The Living Earth Simulator (LES) is an international project managed by FuturICT chair, Dr. Dirk Helbing of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, to advance our understanding of human & natural systems. Running on a super-computer cluster, the simulation would mine the web, gathering real-time data streams such as those pouring out of social networks, financial tickers, and embedded systems, as well as fixed-knowledge databases like Wikipedia. The model would be optimized to sort & categorize information, and to derive relationships between components across diverse data sets. Dr. Helbing hopes that such a massive simulation would help social & economic scientists identify the patterns & behaviors underlying living human systems, perhaps revealing the drivers behind such challenges as social & economic volatility, regional conflicts, and the spread of disease.
“Revealing the hidden laws and processes underlying societies constitutes the most pressing scientific grand challenge of our century.” says Dr Helbing.
The project hopes to ultimately become a dashboard for scientists, analysts, & leaders to have a deeper view into the world in order to better manage human systems, optimize efficiencies, and anticipate change.