Every day, those of us who write for Green Prophet and other green news sources, or who write books, like the Moneyless Man, are trying to reach out to the public, calling for some kind of action. Do this, and this, and that, all of you, and we might not have such a bleak future.
And yet, Cancun failed to produce any meaningful agreement on carbon emissions. People are still drivin’ and buyin’ and the storms keep a comin’. Statistics, emotional pleas, and living by example have mostly failed. So, might a Living Earth Simulator (LES) powered by supercomputers crunching data succeed?
In the next few years, the FuturICT project hopes that LES will be able to replicate everything about earth. That’s right. Everything, from anticipating disease outbreaks, to replicating global weather patterns, and even predicting financial crises.
FuturICT’s chair, Dr. Helbing from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at the helm, told the BBC that all existing social, economic, environmental, and even health problems are generated by humans. If enough data is gathered and processed in a certain, meaningful way, it is possible that science can put our behavior and its consequences into perspective. And then, with any luck, help us to do something about it.
But Pete Warden, another data analysis specialist, raises issues with this concept – an otherwise ambitious, and genius idea. Not only will accessing relevant data (medical records, social media, financial markets) prove difficult, but once all of that data has been gathered and crunch, will we do anything about it?
In the past, according to Mr.Warden, all kinds of social and financial prospecting has been done, but we have failed to act on what we have learned. Nor is it always accurate.
LES would require that social scientists, engineers, and computer scientists essentially decide how to make data taken from google maps, Wikipedia, and other mega databases, meaningful. The technology to do so – called “semantic web technologies” – is not yet available.
Dr. Helbing suggests that not using the tools available to us to better assess emotional, economic, and social health of our societies is even more dangerous than the potential pitfalls.google-site-verification: google6de248d12385ed34.html
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