Prof. Dirk Helbing (@dirkhelbing) is Chair of Sociology, in particular of Modeling and Simulation, in ETH Zurich, and the Scientific Coordinator of the FuturICT Flagship Proposal. He is also the Principal Investigator on FutureICT Knowledge Accelerator and Crisis Relief System, a big data computing system, conceived as sort of a crystal ball of the world.
The core of the system is the Living Earth Simulator, a computing machine attempting “to model global-scale systems — economies, governments, cultural trends, epidemics, agriculture, technological developments, and more — using torrential data streams, sophisticated algorithms, and as much hardware as it takes”. The project currently competing for funding from the European Commission of € 1 billion.
He is known for the social force model, in particular its application to self-organising phenomena in pedestrian crowds. Besides the slower-is-faster effect, he introduced the freezing-by-heating effect and the phase diagram of congested traffic states. Helbing also proposed a microscopic foundation of evolutionary game theory and has studied self-organized behavioral conventions. Recent work applies principles of collective intelligence and self-organized control to the optimization of urban and freeway traffic. His current research activities focus on norms and conflict, the role of success-driven motion for the establishment of cooperation among selfish individuals, the science of science, socio-inspired technology and techno-social systems, disaster spreading and crisis management.
In our wide-ranging conversation, we cover many things, including:
- How science fiction impacts our worldview
- The problem with today’s economic model and what we need to fix to find success
- Why blockchain is incredibly interesting and has potential to transform society
- How artificial intelligence and human creativity can co-exist and thrive
- Why we need better governance and incentive systems to sustainably survive the coming years
- The problem with connectivity and monitoring
- Why Dirk’s team is focused on building a universal human brain
- The pros and cons of capitalism, socialism and something else entirely
- How regulations help and hinder progress
- What a new world order could look like and how to get there
- The impact of IoT and sensing on striving for a better future
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