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Second Open GSS Conference: June 10-12th, 2013, Brussels

10.06.2013, Brussels, Belgium

The study of problems as diverse as global climate change and global financial crises is currently converging towards a new kind of research – Global Systems Science. GSS is emerging hand in hand with the substantial advances in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The use of computer models, digitized data, and global virtual networks are vital for GSS, in the same fashion that GSS can become a trigger for truly disruptive developments in policy-oriented and socially useful ICT.

The purpose of this conference is to discuss a possible research program for Global Systems Science and to further build up the community of practitioners from science, policy and civic society working on the pressing global challenges of our times.

Plenary Presentations


A Research Program for Global Systems Science

Workshop Presentations


Big Data Challenges and Models

Chair: Dr. Ciro Cattuto, ISI Turin

Short Description

The approach to monitoring, measuring, and dealing with collective phenomena in global systems has been rapidly evolving under the pressure of three main drivers: 1) the end of linear thinking brought forth by the maturity of complex system science applied to socio-technical systems; 2) the ability to monitor, quantify and model human behaviors at unprecedented levels of resolution and scale, unleashed by the planetary-scale adoption of the World Wide Web, mobile communication technologies, e-commerce systems, and on-line social networks; 3) the emergence of new forms of human-machine compositionality arising from the designed or emergent interplay of ICT services and communities of citizens.

These innovations are just starting to display their full transformative power. Historically speaking, the current level of interconnectedness and digital visibility is a sudden event with no precedents, and its inception is forcing change in the way organizations think about global systems and deal with global phenomena, both in the public and in the private sectors.

This session will discuss major fundamental challenges in realizing the vision of learning actionable models of social processes from big data sources on socio-technical systems, covering measurement, modeling and learning from data, and future human-machine compositional patterns.




Climate Policy

Chair: Prof. Carlo Jaeger, Beijing Normal University and Global Climate Forum

Short Description

The panel outlines and discusses the current level of EU-China cooperation with special respect to cooperation options in climate policy, and more specific: green growth. The moderated discussion will touch upon topics such as ‘inclusive green growth’ and to what extent this could help to solve both the climate and economic challenges of our times. Cooperation between China and Europe offers a win-win strategy with large net benefits for both.




Digital Anticipation and Global Understanding - Big Data, but what a future?

Chairs: Prof. Diana Mangalagiu, Sciences Po / University of Oxford and Prof. David Tuckett, UCL

Short Description

A quick search on Google about what “made the world faster” returns as first results: the cloud, internet, globalization, technology, wireless communication, the end of the Cold War, machines, information technologies. We have begun to design technologies that can take advantage of this increase in the speed of information transmission to develop better short-term insights. Some claim we can now forecast the spreading of flu pandemics or the volatility of stocks using search query data, the results of elections using prediction markets, the demand of new products by tracking their adoption by influential characters in social networks, and better manage prevention of and recovery from extreme events.

One question to ask is whether we can really do all of that and what might be its limitations. Is the availability and rapid analysis of large quantities of big data making societies better or what might be the problems? Another question is whether the developments that have increased the speed and reach of communication mean that our societies feel better empowered and more confident when facing the future? In fact it can seem rather the contrary. A sense of powerlessness is spreading from the unemployed, underemployed or less and less relatively well paid workers in Western Europe to the nation based policy-makers who have to confront global challenges such as financial and economic crises, climate change, or the rebalancing of power and influence at the global scale. In part, the picture is reminiscent of “the end of the economic man“ in the 1930s. […]
A full description of the workshop can be found in the GSS Outline Paper




Energy Systems

Chair: Prof. Julian Hunt, University College London

Workshop Report

Short Description

In this session, we considered the contributions Global Systems Science can make to energy systems that are global, multi-faceted and act across different Conference Version: Session Outline scales. Energy systems are critically interdependent with human systems, and many issues—such as energy security, climate change, and nuclear waste—require simultaneous consideration of environmental, social, and technological impacts. Transitions towards smarter, more resilient, and decentralized systems are currently underway, and require appropriate legislative mechanisms at different levels of governance. Talks and discussion will cover the multi-scale nature of energy issues, the design of energy infrastructure, and the challenges of policy support for multiobjective energy systems.




Formal Languages and Integrated Problem Solving procedures in GSS

Chair: Prof. Patrik Jansson, Chalmers University of Technology

Short Description

This panel starts from the understanding of GSS goals as developing systems, theories, languages and tools for computer-aided policy making with potentially global implications. The focus of this workshop is the interaction between core computer science, software engineering and GSS. Topics covered include languages for policy formulation and enforcement, software as a key to productivity and innovation in IT industry and academia, domain specific languages for financial services. We will also touch upon dependable modeling, verification and validation of simulation models.




Global Health and ICT

Chair: Prof. Manfred Laubichler, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

Short Description

All health challenges lie at the intersection of several global systems. These include various biological, ecological, social, technological, and economical systems. As part of a tightly interconnected world processes at all levels intersect—although exactly how is in many cases not fully understood. But what we do know is that there are multiple complex interactions that play out at different spatial and temporal scales and involve various feed-back and feed-forward loops. Most research has been focused on small or local intersections and has missed important dimensions that are only visible at a global scale. We are currently collecting data that will allow us to understand some of these connections and causal links (the big data challenge). But these data will only be meaningful, if we have a corresponding conceptual and theoretical framework that frames challenges, such as health as a truly global systems problem. To establish such a framework and test it in the context of specific health challenges at all levels of organization is one of the goals of global systems science.[…]
A full description of the workshop can be found in the GSS Outline Paper




ICT and Global Systems (e)Governance

Chair: Prof. Chris Barrett, Virginia Tech

Workshop paper: Decision and Policy Informatics in GSS



Narratives and Public Stakeholder

Chair: Prof. Filippo Addarii, EUCLID Network

Workshop Paper





Sustainable Financial Markets

Chairs: Prof. Guido Caldarelli, IMT Lucca / Dr. Stefano Battiston, ETH Zurich

Short Description

The panel will brought together policy-makers and researchers who discussed research challenges posed by international monetary stability, shadow banking, and related issues.