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EU Science

Europe's Got Talent For Geeks 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-in-show dept.
fiannaFailMan writes "Teams of scientists from across the continent are vying for a funding bonanza that could see two of them receive up to $1.33 billion over 10 years to keep Europe at the cutting edge of technology. The contest began with 26 proposals that were whittled down to six last year. Just four have made it to the final round. They include a plan to develop digital guardian angels that would keep people safe from harm; a massive data-crunching machine to simulate social, economic and technological change on our planet; an effort to craft the most accurate computer model of the human brain to date; and a team working to find better ways to produce and employ graphene — an ultra-thin material that could revolutionize manufacturing of everything from airplanes to computer chips."
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Europe's Got Talent For Geeks

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  • by pep939 (1957678) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @04:35AM (#42614697)
    I disagree. The human brain model is a realistic and useful project. In fact, modelisation has always been a very active field in computer science.
  • Big Brother (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NettiWelho (1147351) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @04:55AM (#42614797)

    They include a plan to develop digital guardian angels that would keep people safe from harm

    So in other words... Track everyone everywhere at any given time and keep informed on what they and the ones around them are up to? Given the track record of past human governments implementations of similar projects and more specifically what they do with the information I'd rather opt out of this one, even if it meant that, you know, I was responsible for me staying out of harms way.

  • by bazmail (764941) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @04:58AM (#42614815)
    The anti-European sentiment expressed by americans here is really sickening. Why is it every time there is a story about something positive in Europe, americans innate sense of cultural inferiority comes to the fore expressed as hate.

    This scientist X-Factor style competition sure beats the hell out of Honey Booboo. So good luck with that you yanks.
  • by NettiWelho (1147351) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @05:02AM (#42614829)

    The anti-European sentiment expressed by americans here is really sickening. Why is it every time there is a story about something positive in Europe, americans innate sense of cultural inferiority comes to the fore expressed as hate.

    Well, the good thing is they seem to be the minority since they have to post as ACs or see their karma points turned into vapor.

  • by LourensV (856614) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @05:26AM (#42614921)

    The Graphene one. The others are just the usual BS from people clueless about how computers work and what they can and cannot do.

    Spoken like a true programmer or sysadmin with no knowledge of statistics, modelling, machine learning or data analysis. I know, because I was one (and I still write code and maintain servers). But I've also moved into the above fields, and it's a completely different world. The discrete math and logic you use in programming are completely useless here, and the things you can do and the hurdles you come across are very different from the ones you see in programming. Of course, you still have to implement your models and analyses, and you get all the usual issues there (plus things like numerical instability), but even if the software is running fine you'll have things like parameter identifiability, difficulties in comparing models, lack of data in the places where you need it, conceptual problems with the models that can only be solved by making them more complex, which leads to lack of data problems and the need for massive amounts of compute power, and so on. These are the things they will be trying to tackle, and they have nothing to do with the limitations of Turing-style computers.

    I do remain sceptical about having a chat with a Turing-level AI any time soon, but data analysis, modelling and inference methods are getting better and better (see Google Search, Watson) and I don't think that continued research into these things is a waste of money. Neither do Google, Facebook, Microsoft, the US government, and the EU apparently.

    Finally, here's another EU project [futurict.eu] in this direction that is both scary and interesting.

  • by dmbasso (1052166) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @05:49AM (#42615013)

    How can you abstract the important parts, when we have no idea what they are?

    There are several levels of abstraction that one can pursue when modeling things. We already know a lot about things in all of these levels, only not in a fully comprehensive way. Modeling and simulation is an excellent way to give insights about the gaps in the knowledge and to direct further research.

    We're still trying to figure out the many, highly complex biochemical pathways.

    And each of the 250+ neurotransmitters has different physic-chemical dynamics. Does that mean we need to know everything before we make an overall functional model? Definitely no.

    Do I have to take into consideration every car in existence to make a model of congestion on roads? No. Now bring me my spherical cow please.

  • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Thursday January 17, 2013 @06:27AM (#42615123) Homepage

    Yeah and we will surely get there if we never try.

    "No need to do these weather simulations and prediction, we are often wrong anyway."

    Better give up anything we can't do atm. Tell that to your children.

    "No use for you to study math, you suck at it and there's so many others who are better than you. Why are you even trying?"

    WTF is wrong with people?

    It''s a good way to end all progress though.

The greatest productive force is human selfishness. -- Robert Heinlein

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