10/8/2011 Gdansk: Looking for the Second Foundation

Wednesday August 9th, 2011 at 14:00
Lunch hall, Electronic department, Gdansk University of Technology

In collaboration with CoNan – Computational Nanotechnology - Gdansk University of Technology
and the University of Warsaw, Science Cafe of Science Festival

Franco Bagnoli, Center for the Study of Complex Systems, Università di Firenze

In the ’40s Asimov wrote the first three volumes of the Foundation cycle. At the beginning of the decline of the Galactic Empire, Hari Seldon, using his inven- tion (the psycho-history) was able to set up two Foun- dations at the extreme ends of the galaxy. The first one was public and specialized in technology, while the second was secret. It was formed by mathemati- cians, and expected to forecast and influence future events in order to reduce the chaos period after the collapse to only 1000 years instead of the expected 30000.
The psycho-history consists of equations which model the behaviour of the human population. Until a few months ago this seemed only a fantasy, but now an initiative of the European Union (FuturICT http://www.futurict.ethz.ch/FuturICT) that should take care to make their own measurements and simulations, or to avert planetary prevent crises is being discussed. In short, the psycho-history in action.
Is it possible to measure and simulate human behaviour? Is it easier to predict the behaviour of an individual or that of a crowd? What about free will? And can a forecasting system work in a public way, when everyone knows its predictions?

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