FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, May 02, 2005

Simulating Groups

Computer simulation is nothing new, but Future Feeder profiles several experimental software programs that graphically simulate group behavior. Programmer/artist Jared Bell has developed war.paint, a graphic interpretation of soldiers on a battlefield. Crogai depicts crowd behaviors and evolutions over multiple generations. Flight 404 simulates fluid and swarm behaviors.

What's striking about all these tools is how relatively lightweight they are; all can be run easily on an ordinary PC. These tools may one day allow ordinary computer users to model and understand group behavior, helping them predict the outcome of a variety of complex, chaotic events. Tools such as these could be used to help plan one's investment portfolio, forecast local weather (will a cloudburst occur over my backyard this afternoon?), or predict the likelihood of traffic congestion.