Exploring world's possible futures

We live in an increasingly complex, confusing, and multilayered world where it is not always obvious which is the best course of action. The sheer interconnectedness of all our lives has thrown up massive challenges for policy makers. For instance, can you tell which are today’s most dangerous threats for the human population?

Or which are the best policies to face terrorism, climate change, growing population, health epidemics, lower economic growth or poverty? Should the world aim for continuous growth or for a minimal one? Is that sustainable from an energetic and environmental point of view? Or more importantly, which is the brightest future we can imagine, and how can we go there in the fastest possible way? Can we change the course of history to ensure a better future for all humanity?
We do not fully understand the consequences of our actions, leading to suboptimal decision in the allocation of resources. The on-going public disclosure of large dataset is the first step to generating public trust in government institutions and to foster public-private partnerships for solving social issues transparently, but it is, unfortunately, not the solution.
We propose to go one step beyond Open Data and use a combination of traditional science, social sciences, mathematics, and information and communication technologies to untangle complex issues and create much
better models of potential outcomes of policy decisions, from worldwide to local levels.

In our proposal we will use data, models and simulations to explore the world’s possible futures along five socio-economic indicators/dimensions: Demography and migration, Economic growth, Global health, Energy cost, Environment and Sustainable development.

 Simulation

High Performance Computing to simulate the models and predict the effectiveness and the consequences of policies

 Deep learning

Advanced deep learning algorithms that helps to interpret data and predict the value of futures choices

 Models

Advanced mathematical models to analyze the collective behavior of many interacting individuals

 Open data

Integration of heterogeneous dataset publicly available in order to tailor the models to today's society. A tentative list of sources is here

Team Team

Impact

Horizon2020, with its €79 billion investment over seven years (2014-2020), promises pushing the frontiers of knowledge and to address key societal challenges of our time. Shaping the context of these pursuits are important directions of change that Europe can influence but cannot fully control or determine. They were individuated in the landmark foresight reports Global Trends 2030 8 from the European Strategy and Policy Analysis and State of Environment 2015 9 from the European Environment Agency. The principal one is “Accelerating technological changes” - to which this proposal directly contributes with its research and technological objectives- together with other key defining features of our times such as the overriding concerns with environmental, social and economic sustainability, in the context of climate change, demographic shift and globalization 10. Now, we began the description of IMPACT FUTURES with the question: which actions will lead us to a better future? Nobody knows for sure, yet we must every day act as if we knew the answer. Every action, even the decision not to act, will affect the future in potentially very significant ways. Therefore, it makes sense to improve our thinking about the future as much as possible. In this project, we will do so in the context of the Commission’s priorities 11 , by decomposing our understanding of society into the key aspects recognized by the Global System Science and in the third strategic report for Horizon2020 12 where the EU commission reviewed existing foresight evidence and used it to develop a perspective of future change relevant to the next years.

The main issues highlighted in the abovementioned reports that we focus on are: (i) Migration and changing demographics, (ii) Stressing factors for the health systems, (iii) Falling cost of energy, (iv) Facing climate change. For each of them we prepared a Proposed Scenario (PS) were we will apply the novel tools and models developed by WP1-WP6 to support critical thinking and evidence-based evaluation.

Scenarios Scenarios

Contact Us

The project is coordinated by Prof. Miguel Angel Gonzalez Ballester and Dr. Mario Ceresa of the SimBioSys group at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.