This Machine will NOT Predict the Future: the Rise and Fall of Europe’s FuturICT Project

Event Date: 

Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 12:00pm

Event Location: 

  • SSMS 2135

Helen Couclelis

UCSB Department of Geography

Touted as ‘the machine that will predict the future’ or ‘the superconducting supercollider of the social sciences’, the FuturICT research proposal was considered the undisputed front-runner for the EU’s 10-year, € 10 billion euro research prize. The project would have combined ICT, computer science, complexity science and social science with data from a network of sensors circling the globe, to anticipate critical events in the social science domain and provide policy recommendations. A few months ago, amid stunned gasps and condolences from prominent researchers, another project ran away with the prize. This talk will critically review the most ambitious social science project ever conceived and will present some thoughts on the broader scientific and societal dimensions of the FuturICT concept.

Helen Couclelis is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara. With a background in architecture, civil engineering, and urban and regional modeling and planning, she began her career as a professional in Greece. At UCSB she has served as Associate Director of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA) and as member of the executive committee of the Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science (CSISS). Her publications range from spatial cognition to urban process modeling and the geography of the information society. Her recent research is increasingly on geographic information science, including the question of prediction and uncertainty in the Big-Data age.