Scientists are planning to use the largest supercomputers to simulate life on Earth, including financial systems, economies, and whole societies. The project is called “Living Earth Simulator” and part of a huge EU research initiative named FuturIcT.
Supercomputers are already being used to explore complex social and economic problems that science can understand in no other way. For example, ETH Zurich’s professor for transport engineering Kay Axhausen is simulating the travel activities of all 7.5 million inhabitants of Switzerland to forecast and mitigate traffic congestion.
Other researchers at the ETH — all working within its Competence Center for Coping with Crises in Complex Socio-Economic Systems (CCSS) — are mining huge amounts of financial data to detect dangerous bubbles in stock and housing markets, potential bankruptcy cascades in networks of companies, or similar vulnerabilities in other complex networks such as communication networks or the Internet.