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Dirk Helbing is one of the most imaginative experts in the world when it comes to envisioning the opportunities and risks of the digital revolution. He is an advocate of responsible innovation and strongly contributed to the public debate around Big Data. He also coordinates the FuturICT initiative, which built a global interdisciplinary community of experts at the interface of complexity, computer and data science. These activities, aimed at confronting global problems and crises were featured by Scientific American as the number one world-changing idea and earned him an honorary doctorate from TU Delft, where he is now an affiliate professor.
Dirk Helbing is Professor of Computational Social Science at the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences and also affiliated to the Computer Science Department at ETH Zurich. He has a PhD in physics, was Managing Director of the Institute of Transport & Economics at Dresden University of Technology in Germany, and Professor of Sociology at ETH Zurich.
Helbing is an elected member of the German Academy of Sciences "Leopoldina" and worked for the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Complex Systems. He is also co-founder of the Physics of Socio-Economic Systems Division of the German Physical Society and ETH Zurich's Risk Center. Furthermore, he is a board member of the Global Brain Institute in Brussels and the International Centre for Earth Simulation in Geneva. In addition, he is a member of various high-level committees to assess the implications of the digital revolution.
The motivation for his research may be summarized by "What can complexity science and information systems contribute to saving human lives?" This ranges from avoiding crowd disasters over reducing crime and conflict to the reduction of epidemic spreading. His work brings theoretical studies, data analytics, and lab experiments together with agent-based computer models, where agents might have cognitive features. His recent publication on globally networked risks establishes the framework of a Global Systems Science.
Using the emergent "Internet of Things", his team is now engaged in establishing the core of a decentralized Planetary Nervous System as a Citizen Web (see nervousnet.info). This will be an open, transparent and participatory information platform to support real-time measurements of our world, situational awareness, successful decision-making, and self-organization. The goal of this system is to open up the new opportunities of the digital age for everyone.