Understanding by building is at the heart of research in Artificial Intelligence and cognitive systems. This area explores synergies between cognitive science and the neurosciences, but also the social sciences and humanities to create technologies for intelligent systems. Creativity, context awareness, associative reasoning, learning, adaptation, evolution, emotion and social intelligence are some of the topics addressed.
The convergence of biology, nanotechnology, neuroscience and information technology is interfacing wet and dry technologies, creating tools to better study one or the other, to create hybrids between them or to use inspiration from neuroscience and biology to create better systems (sensors for instance). Neuroprosthetics is an important area of application for this.
When many simple systems start to interact, anything can happen. Understanding this kind of complexity is helping to build a better internet, but also to understand financial crises, global epidemics, the propagation of news, and even the growth and evolution of cities. Models and simulations based on techniques largely borrowed from statistical physics are at the heart of this.
Computers are everywhere; but Is computer science ready for it? This is the challenge in this area where projects are pushing information theory, algorithmics, signal processing, communication protocols, cryptography and other core areas of computer science to a new level of ambition where the high expectations that others have from it can really be met.
Von Neumann had it right – so far; but what's next? How will we progress to massively parallel systems, possibly using millions of cores? How to overcome the strict separation between memory and processing functions? How to deal with the changing balance between computing power and data intensity? How will we build computers so complex that component failures are a way of life?
Energy consumption is one of the biggest hurdles towards achieving green computing and networking. A growing number of projects are attacking this problem head on.
The screen, the keyboard, the mouse: is that how we will interact with computers forever? Of course not! In the future computers may speak and understand natural language, engage all our senses (touch, smell, …), understand what we want ('Help me!') from the context, or adapt to our mood. Embedded in our living environment or' disguised' as robots, everyday objects, in our cloths or behind 3D interfaces, we will simply forget about them and enjoy the magic they create for us.
Information, knowledge and models are three steps along the way to understanding the weather, the physiology of diseases, or the economy. As systems become more and more complex we need better tools to capture the information, to extract the knowledge, to construct and to validate the models. Projects in this area look at privacy preserving data collection, data mining, multi-level modelling, high-end simulation, visual analytics, among others.
Interdisciplinary science and technology collaboration challenges the limits of current research and innovation practices. FET projects often have to bridge between very different research areas that use very different vocabularies, apply different methodologies, often have a different pace of progress, and have different habits of publication, industry collaboration, and so on. In this sense FET also explores new ways in which collaborative science and innovation can be done.
Devices that exploit quantum phenomena such as superposition and entanglement have the potential to enable radically new technologies. Several promising directions are now well known, for instance in quantum computation and simulation, quantum communication, quantum metrology and sensing. FET projects in FP7 have kept on exploring these new mindboggling possibilities with world class results, while also pushing some, like quantum key distribution, metrology and sensing, to the level of practical use.
This area is pushing science and engineering of robots beyond fiction. Robots inspired by plants, the octopus or insects? Swarms of robots with emergent behaviours, evolving and shape changing robots? These are some of the topics explored in this area.
Computers are tireless in shuffling ones and zeros around. Why ones and zeros? And why with currents, transistors and silicon chips as in any computer, laptop, mobile phone or tablet today? These projects show how to compute with, for instance, light, sound, molecules or bacteria. They show how to encode information in different ways, like analog or in electron spins. They question the meaning of computing, and push the limits of what is computable.