Thursday, April 14, 2011

European Technology Competition Applies IT to Social Problems

    European Technology Competition Applies IT to Social Problems
  • A European Commission competition aims to get researchers working together to solve grand challenges by applying information and communications technologies to social problems.
  • A European Commission competition aims to get researchers working together to solve grand challenges by applying information and communications technologies to social problems.Imagine a payout worth more than $1 billion over 10 years. … That's the level of funding at stake as six European research teams compete for two spots in the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Flagships program.
    The program's goal is to bring together teams of researchers from across Europe to solve grand challenges. The program is being driven by the European Commission and will award 1 billion euros (about $1.4 billion) over 10 years to the winners.
    All told, there were 21 entries in the program. The six projects selected (last month) as finalists in the competition are dubbed FET Flagships (FET-F) Pilots. The variety of topics represented among the finalists is compelling. The FET-F Pilots include:
    The FuturICT Knowledge Accelerator and Crisis-Relief System: This project focuses on using information for a sustainable future. This research entails designing a planetary scale computer (dubbed the Living Earth Platform) to help government officials, citizens and scientists analyze data and complex events. FuturICT as a whole will act as a Knowledge Accelerator, turning massive amounts of data into knowledge. The ultimate goal of this project is to understand and manage complex, global, socially interactive systems, with a focus on sustainability and resilience. 
    The IT Future of Medicine (ITFoM): This project aims to address the unprecedented IT challenges posed by the advancement of personalized medicine. In particular, the project will focus on developing data-driven, individualized medicine of the future, based on the molecular, physiological and anatomical data from individual patients. ITFoM plans to make general models of human pathways, tissues, diseases and, ultimately, the whole human. 
    The Human Brain Project: This project has broad implications for medicine and neuroscience. Its long-term goal is to understand the human brain by building a supercomputer simulation of the brain. Research also will examine new tools and treatments for brain disease as well as a new generation of brain-enabled robots. (The Website for this and many of the selected FET-F Pilots is still under construction.)
    The Robot Companions for Citizens: This project looks to technology to offer an alternative companion by delivering assistance to people with soft-skinned machines. These companions will possess lifelike qualities complete with cognitive, perceptual and emotive capabilities. They also will respond to their social and physical surroundings.
    Guardian Angels for a Smarter Planet: The goal of this project is to provide information and communication technologies to assist people in all sorts of complex situation. The help will be imparted via digital "Guardian Angels." These Guardian Angels will be like personal assistants and are envisioned to be intelligent, autonomous systems that will provide assistance from infancy right through to old age. A key feature of these Guardian Angels will be their zero power requirements as they will scavenge for energy.
    Graphene Science and Technology for ICT: This project will explore the importance of grapheme for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Bringing together multiple disciplines and addressing research across a wide range of issues, from fundamental understandings of material properties to graphene production, this project will seek to provide a platform for establishing European scientific and technological leadership in the application of graphene to ICT.
    The researchers behind the projects will have a year to move the work forward. In mid-2012, the EC will make its choice and select two pilots to fund.

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