Use the future to build the present
Integration and Coupling
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1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy
1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy

Sub-Field:

3.2.4Integration and Coupling

If researchers are to create simulations that help inform decisions aiming to improve quality of life across the globe, they will need to not only generate models, or digital avatars, that reveal the key workings of socio-ecological systems (SES), they will also need to combine them in order to expose the feedback mechanisms that operate in the real world. This will allow us to pursue strategies more likely to protect and enhance those systems — be they fisheries, cities, countries, islands, oceans, or the entire planet.

This is clearly a huge challenge. Myriad feedback loops link the physical, ecological and socioeconomic worlds, so developing a digital simulation for an SES of interest requires the widespread coupling and integration of physical, ecological and socio-economic models, combined with cutting edge data science. However, urban digital twins — virtual replicas, updated in near-real time and primarily used for urban planning and smart city applications — offer a glimpse of what can be achieved when models are integrated. In Singapore, for example, extensive data on traffic volume and pedestrian activity are sent to the relevant government agencies for analysis and to coordinate services. In addition, National Research Foundation Singapore is creating Virtual Singapore, a dynamic 3D city model and collaborative data platform that will be made widely available to users from different sectors to develop and test new tools and services, and optimise planning and decision-making as Singapore evolves.11

The integration of these sorts of models with larger-scale SESs, including more aspects of nature, is a significant challenge in terms of international collaboration, but vital if we are to address the realities of life in the 21st century. The future well-being of humanity depends on regenerative rather than extractive systems and collaboration with nature, rather than domination over her.

Future Horizons:

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5-yearhorizon

First social-ecological avatars emerge

Coupled social-ecological avatars are created for a few places that are especially tractable and subject to intense, ongoing scientific research, such as oceanic islands. The Island Digital Ecosystem Avatars (IDEA) Consortium, mentioned above, for example, has now extended to other islands in Polynesia through the 4Site: Pacific Transect Collaborative, as well as coastal and island communities in Europe.12

10-yearhorizon

Simulations anticipate effects of sea-level rise on coastal societies

Research efforts link observing systems and data archives across scientific disciplines and geographic regions, enabling social-ecological avatars to model the effects of climate change, such as sea-level rise, on island and coastal systems. Digital twins of urban areas are integrated into wider socio-ecological avatars, revealing how individual human behaviour scales up to system-level consequences and providing timely feedback on our socio-economic decisions.

25-yearhorizon

World-wide simulations guide global decision-making

Local digital twins and avatars that allow predictive management and decision-making at city and island scales, join up with regional and global avatars such as physical climate models that increasingly include biological and social feedbacks. They become interconnected at nested scales, creating a global “intelligent fabric” that can be utilised in politics and diplomacy to guide inclusive and equitable decision-making at levels of governance appropriate to the scales of the processes they seek to influence.

Integration and Coupling - Anticipation Scores

How the experts see this field in terms of the expected time to maturity, transformational effect across science and industries, current state of awareness among stakeholders and its possible impact on people, society and the planet. See methodology for more information.

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