Musician Imogen Heap in her tech wear

In a recent comment on randform randform reader Bibi asked:

You had written at Azimuth that your idea to use MMOGs for simulating economic and political real world scenarios

seems to have recently been picked up for the Global Participatory Platform of the 2013 Flagship proposal FucturICT

It seems also that your scientific platform idea had been picked up for that ICTfutur grant proposal.

What about your intellectual property?

The FuturICT application for 1 billion Euros had though been turned down, will you now write an EU grant proposal?

Answers to this comment after the click.

What about your intellectual property?

So first of all, I don’t know wether the idea to use MMOGs for political and economical change was really first formulated here. Serious games and economical simulations had been around for a while, so the idea might have easily been stated somewhere else first – I give a little overview over games and their history in the draft (see also this blogpost). If an idea can be stated easily then it is usually considered as “unoriginal” because it appears to have emerged rather within an incremental process than as a truly new thing. So just as the idea for a closed preprint archive the idea to use MMOGs in this context appears to be not overly original. The same holds true for “the idea” of a scientific platform, or a global scientific collaboration tool which had actually been around for quite a while and it would be totally weird to claim intellectual property for all of this. In fact I even had myself -unsuccessfully though- set up a small global collaboration platform about 10 years ago..

In short: It is useful to state ideas in order to stimulate a development however the crucial point here is to extract relevant structures for a working solution. This is the more important the bigger the project.

So my article On the need for a global academic internet platform was in part intended to stimulate a discussion, however it proposed also an outline of a structural framework – one of the main features being that it should be scalable, rather open and to a great extend based on already existing infrastructure.

It seems also that your scientific platform idea had been picked up for that ICTfutur grant proposal.

Unfortunately I hadn’t found much on the concrete structures of the ICTFutur platforms. Maybe I had overseen something, in particular not everything (like the article Linking science and arts: Intimate science, shared spaces and living experiments) was accessible to me – but I went to quite a bit of the pdf’s. Here is the main idea for the Global Particpatory Platform of FuturICT:

Global Participatory Platform in Practice – Crowd sourcing and interface

The main idea behind the GPP is to allow the stakeholders – scientists, policy analysts, software developers and the ordinary citizen – to harness the knowledge and creativity of multiple minds as the communication, coordination, cooperation and the social, economic and political participation of citizens is promoted. By building on the principles of Wikipedia and Web 2.0, this will go beyond what is currently possible through existing eGovernance platforms. The goal is to engender a beneficial human-information symbiosis, with the GPP featuring mixed reality systems, where it will be almost impossible to distinguish between the real and virtual world. The GPP use techniques employed in multi-player online games; for example where scientists will be able to explore simulations for different designs of shopping malls, airports, or city centres in addition to trying out different financial architectures, or voting systems.


In order to make derive a public good from data and models, the FuturICT project will develop a new ecosystem, one which delivers access to data, quality analytical tools and effective communication systems. This ecosystem will have the capability of social sensing and social thinking…

For a 1 billion Euro grant proposal this unfortunately appears to me to be not enough. The principal idea of a (europe based) “collider” or “knowledge accelerator” as it is fromulated in the FuturICT proposals appears to me also very different from my proposal, which envisages rather more globally distributed structures.

From the Early Outline of the FuturICT Proposal:

The FuturIcT Flagship will build a knowledge accelerator to address the challenges for humankind in the 21st century. This will include the creation of the following:

• Integrated data collection, modelling, simulation, visualization, design, and decision-support tools for complex systems, based on novel approaches such as “possibilistic” simulation concepts (multiple world view, parallel world scenarios,…)
• Social super-computing, including a socio-economic modelling language
• An innovation accelerator changing the scientific production paradigm, to support efficient
progress and investments in science and technology
• A peer-to-peer reputation and privacy-respecting recommender system…..

But lets’s turn to your next question:

The FuturICT application for 1 billion Euros had though been turned down, will you now write an EU grant proposal?

I actually had written and helped out with quite some grant proposals, to a great extend actually usually not for myself (alone). I had even helped (that was partially part of my job) to write (EU) grants for other individuals and frankly speaking these were sometimes quite a nightmare, like I remember that the EU grants included several calls to Brussels.

So, I thus now wonder a bit about the ICTFutur proposal. Comparing to usual EU grant applications and especially to the amount of money involved it appears to be quite sparse. But as said I may have overlooked something.

But to answer your question: No, I currently do not intend to apply for grants for such an endevour. That is first I am not in academia anymore, so I am anyway not eligible for applying, secondly I think quite some more thoughts need still to be invested. I still do think that it makes sense to connect academic researchers and this can be done and is done already now. Like I think that alone collecting and identifying researchers, like via ORCID is a useful thing. It was already mentioned in the article, but should be repeated again – the development of better software tools is here and for the more active collaboration parts crucial. I also think that initiatives and guidelines to make scientific data better accessible are important, unfortunately alone the access to scientific publications is a problem, see e.g. the problems documented at the EU survey on scientific information in the digital age” (via irights.info) or the comment on psychology today (via John Baez on google+). The collaboration part is even more difficult, even if there of course exists examples of online collaboration (like e.g. the Azimuth project). That is social sharing may rather be on the decline as had been pointed out by scholarly kitchen (also via John Baez on google+) and I think the whole academic system have been getting more and more into trouble in recent years.

These tendencies in academia are in my opinion due to a global socio-economic shift which is currently taking place (see e.g. the last randform post Hurries for humans in physis). And it appears to me that this shift is deeply rooted in human perception and human nature and the roles humans have in evolution. For that reason I am currently digressing a bit in my article draft and e.g. investigate the roles of machines and humans in evolution a little bit more in depth. I think this investigation is important, also if it may eventually postpone the (pre) publication of the game article forever.

2 Responses to “FuturICT”

  1. Dr. Böse Says:

    If I noticed correctly it seems you have only one friend in your facebook account. Do you really think that you can talk about social media?

  2. nad Says:

    on FACEBOOK with only one friend isn’t such a problem, I find. Because this friend is Michael Grossberg himself!!!

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