Scientists are getting ready to create a second Earth. No, not a false reality for us to live in in the case of an apocalypse like the Matrix movies, but rather a simulation used to study the changes of our planet and to monitor for, and prevent, the possibility of a future crisis.
The idea behind this project, nicknamed the Living Earth Simulator (or LES for short), is to take all of the data from our real Earth and plot it into a virtual simulator that would create an identical world model. The model would then have the ability to fast-forward into the future and monitor changes like global weather patterns, the spread of diseases, international financial transactions, and the congestion of traffic in large cities.
“Many problems we have today – including social and economic instabilities, wars, disease spreading – are related to human behavior, but there is apparently a serious lack of understanding regarding how society and the economy work,” says Dr. Dirk Helbing of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, who chairs the FuturICT project which aims to create the simulator.
As of right now the hardware needed to create this simulator is not yet available, as it would require many supercomputers working together to crunch all the data of our world. The process of creating such a network has been started, however. The data to populate this new Earth will also be pulled from our real Earth as it happens, using medical records, financial transactions, weather data, and even social media and networking data in attempt to properly predict human behavior.
Even with the model’s predictive function, there is no need to fret about the Philip K. Dick-forcasted threat of police hunting you for a crime you haven’t yet committed. The identities of people in the simulator will not be linked to any real people and will not create any privacy concerns.
Hopefully, this simulator will serve as a benefit to mankind; one that will be able to predict large-scale disasters before they form, or alert people to leave affected areas in emergencies.