The Power of Crowds and “Human Computation”

An anonymous reader writes with this Vice article about the power of crowds when it comes to solving complex problems. “Forget artificial intelligence: The key to solving the world’s most complex problems could be human-machine collaboration. That’s the rallying cry of researchers who penned an editorial in the journal Science championing “human computation”—systems that combine the talents of computers and humans. The authors claim these systems could ultimately tackle issues such as climate change and geopolitical conflict, all without the existential risks posed by true AI and the technological singularity.

Authors Pietro Michelucci and Janis Dickinson imagine a system that would provide a technical framework for ideas to be shared, analyzed, and revised until the best bubble to the top; Michelucci envisages it as a ‘dynamic Wikipedia.’ The idea would be to develop our understanding of real-world issues online, and test potential solutions in this computational space, then applying new knowledge back in the real world so as to actually effect some change. ‘Imagine something like the game SimCity, but a thousand times more detailed, and then link in real-time sensors attached to the internet,’ said Michelucci. ‘The more faithful that model of the real world becomes, the more accurate it would be for testing out solutions and predicting outcomes.’”

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