VISIONEER Project Results

From Social Data Mining to Forecasting Socio-Economic Crisis

Socio-economic data mining has a great potential in terms of gaining a better understanding of problems that our economy and society are facing, such as financial instability, shortages of resources, or conflicts.
Without large-scale data mining, progress in these areas seems hard or impossible. Therefore, a suitable, distributed data mining infrastructure and research centers should be built in Europe. It also appears appropriate to build a network of Crisis Observatories. They can be imagined as laboratories devoted to the gathering and processing of enormous volumes of data on both natural systems such as the Earth
and its ecosystem, as well as on human techno-socio-economic systems, so as to gain early warnings of impending events. Reality mining provides the chance to adapt more quickly and more accurately to changing situations. For example, it will facilitate a real-time management of challenges like evacuation scenarios or economic stimulus programs. Further opportunities arise by individually customized services, which however should be provided in a privacy-respecting way. This requires the development of novel ICT (such as a self-organizing Web), but most likely new legal regulations and suitable institutions as well. As long as such regulations are lacking on a world-wide scale (and potentially even thereafter), it is in the public interest that scientists explore what can be done (in a positive and negative sense) with the huge data available about virtually everybody and everything. Big data do have the potential to change or even threaten democratic societies. The same applies to sudden and large-scale failures of ICT systems. Therefore, dealing with data must be done with a large degree of responsibility and care. Self-interests of individuals,
companies or institutions have limits, where the public interest is affected, and public interest is not a sufficient justification to violate human rights of individuals. Privacy is a high good, as confidentiality is, and damaging it would have serious side effects for society.

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From Social Simulation to Integrative Systems Design

As the recent financial crisis showed, today there is a strong need to gain "ecological perspective" of all
relevant interactions in socio-economic-techno-environmental systems. For this, we suggested to set-up a network of Centers for integrative systems design, which shall be able to run all potentially relevant scenarios, identify causality chains, explore feedback and cascading effects for a number of model variants,
and determine the reliability of their implications (given the validity of the underlying models). They will be able to detect possible negative side effect of policy decisions, before they occur. The Centers belonging to this network of Integrative Systems Design Centers would be focused on a particular field,
but they would be part of an attempt to eventually cover all relevant areas of society and economy and integrate them within a "Living Earth Simulator". The results of all research activities of such Centers would be turned into informative input for political Decision Arenas. For example, Crisis Observatories
(for financial instabilities, shortages of resources, environmental change, conflict, spreading of diseases, etc.) would be connected with such Decision Arenas for the purpose of visualization, in order to make complex interdependencies understandable to scientists, decision-makers, and the general public.

Download the White Paper "From Social Simulation to Integrative Systems Design"

How to Create an Innovation Accelerator

Too many policy failures are fundamentally failures of knowledge. This has become particularly apparent
during the recent financial and economic crisis, which is questioning the validity of mainstream scholarly
paradigms. We proposed to pursue a multi-disciplinary approach and to establish new institutional set-
tings which remove or reduce obstacles impeding efficient knowledge creation. We provided suggestions
on (i) how to modernize and improve the academic publication system, and (ii) how to support scientific
coordination, communication, and co-creation in large-scale multi-disciplinary projects. Both constitute
important elements of what we envision to be a novel ICT infrastructure called “Innovation Accelerator”
or “Knowledge Accelerator”.

Download the White Paper "How to Create an Innovation Accelerator"

Formulating Grand Fundamental Challenges

20 Grand Challenges have been identified. All share a unifying vision in that they aim to tackle key
issues which demand both the application of modern ICT (or the development of new technologies)
and a much deeper scientific appreciation of the difficulties of understanding and learning to manage or
exploit so-called "complex systems", including communications networks, computational systems, natural
ecologies, traffic or logistics systems, economies and so on, the behaviour of which emerges out of vast
webs of interactions and feedbacks.

Download the White Paper "Formulating Grand Fundamental Challenges"

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