The European Physical Journal Special Topics

, Volume 214, Issue 1, pp 435–459 | Cite as

Complexity aided design

The FuturICT technological innovation paradigm
  • A. Carbone
  • M. Ajmone-Marsan
  • K. W. Axhausen
  • M. Batty
  • M. Masera
  • E. Rome
Regular Article


“In the next century, planet earth will don an electronic skin. It will use the Internet as a scaffold to support and transmit its sensations. This skin is already being stitched together. It consists of millions of embedded electronic measuring devices: thermostats, pressure gauges, pollution detectors, cameras, microphones, glucose sensors, EKGs, electroencephalographs. These will probe and monitor cities and endangered species, the atmosphere, our ships, highways and fleets of trucks, our conversations, our bodies–even our dreams ....What will the earth’s new skin permit us to feel? How will we use its surges of sensation? For several years–maybe for a decade–there will be no central nervous system to manage this vast signaling network. Certainly there will be no central intelligence...some qualities of self-awareness will emerge once the Net is sensually enhanced. Sensuality is only one force pushing the Net toward intelligence”. These statements are quoted by an interview by Cherry Murray, Dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Professor of Physics. It is interesting to outline the timeliness and highly predicting power of these statements. In particular, we would like to point to the relevance of the question “What will the earth’s new skin permit us to feel?” to the work we are going to discuss in this paper. There are many additional compelling questions, as for example: “How can the electronic earth’s skin be made more resilient?”; “How can the earth’s electronic skin be improved to better satisfy the need of our society?”;“What can the science of complex systems contribute to this endeavour?”

Graphical abstract


European Union Cloud Computing Geographic Information System European Physical Journal Special Topic Smart Grid 
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 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Carbone
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Ajmone-Marsan
    • 1
    • 3
  • K. W. Axhausen
    • 2
  • M. Batty
    • 4
  • M. Masera
    • 5
  • E. Rome
    • 6
  1. 1.Politecnico di TorinoTorinoItaly
  2. 2.ETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.IMDEA NetworkMadridSpain
  4. 4.UCLLondonUK
  5. 5.JRCPettenThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Fraunhofer IAISFraunhoferGermany

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