Understanding, creating, and managing complex techno-socio-economic systems: Challenges and perspectives

  • D. HelbingEmail author
  • S. Balietti
  • S. Bishop
  • P. Lukowicz
Regular Article


This contribution reflects on the comments of Peter Allen [1], Bikas K. Chakrabarti [2], Péter Érdi [3], Juval Portugali [4], Sorin Solomon [5], and Stefan Thurner [6] on three White Papers (WP) of the EU Support Action Visioneer ( These White Papers are entitled “From Social Data Mining to Forecasting Socio-Economic Crises” (WP 1) [7], “From Social Simulation to Integrative System Design” (WP 2) [8], and “How to Create an Innovation Accelerator” (WP 3) [9]. In our reflections, the need and feasibility of a “Knowledge Accelerator” is further substantiated by fundamental considerations and recent events around the globe. newpara The Visioneer White Papers propose research to be carried out that will improve our understanding of complex techno-socio-economic systems and their interaction with the environment. Thereby, they aim to stimulate multi-disciplinary collaborations between ICT, the social sciences, and complexity science. Moreover, they suggest combining the potential of massive real-time data, theoretical models, large-scale computer simulations and participatory online platforms. By doing so, it would become possible to explore various futures and to expand the limits of human imagination when it comes to the assessment of the often counter-intuitive behavior of these complex techno-socio-economic-environmental systems. In this contribution, we also highlight the importance of a pluralistic modeling approach and, in particular, the need for a fruitful interaction between quantitative and qualitative research approaches. newpara In an appendix we briefly summarize the concept of the FuturICT flagship project, which will build on and go beyond the proposals made by the Visioneer White Papers. EU flagships are ambitious multi-disciplinary high-risk projects with a duration of at least 10 years amounting to an envisaged overall budget of 1 billion EUR [10]. The goal of the FuturICT flagship initiative is to understand and manage complex, global, socially interactive systems, with a focus on sustainability and resilience.


European Physical Journal Special Topic Crowd Disaster Open Data Initiative Participatory Platform Innovation Accelerator 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences and Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Helbing
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • S. Balietti
    • 1
  • S. Bishop
    • 3
  • P. Lukowicz
    • 4
  1. 1.ETH Zurich, CLUZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Santa Fe InstituteSanta FeUSA
  3. 3.Department of MathematicsUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.University of PassauPassauGermany

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