The combination of human and computer intelligence could help solve the world’s “wicked” problems. Scientists from the Human Computation Institute (HCI) and Cornell University agree that human active interaction with machines forms a new paradigm to generate solutions to complex global problems such as climate change and international conflicts.

The study, published in the journal Science, addresses the fact that humans and computers convey different advantages. For instance, whereas people are good at recognizing patterns and creating abstract ideas, computers are more efficient at analyzing data. The mix of those strengths can serve as an impulse to broaden the reach of multidimensional collaborative networks, which are to date limited by “micro-tasks” that are sent to many people so they can piece together bits of data.

Image: Mashable.
Image: Mashable.

The micro-tasking method has proven to be highly efficient, as it can be seen in the case of Wikipedia. However, it takes too long to produce significant results on a global scale. This is why researchers say real-time human interaction with supercomputers can help find solutions to far-reaching problems, as it allows more collaborative networks to operate.

That kind of large-scale conflicts for which a new approach is required implicates many systems that act simultaneously and tend to generate solutions that have unforeseen consequences, such as corruption led by financial aid given to address a natural disaster. Researchers affirm that micro tasking alone cannot face those tough challenges.

Human computation technologies allow people to have real-time access to crowd-based platforms so that individuals can work from their computer and send their contribution to the next person, who will be in charge of improving or analyzing from a different perspective. This method offers more flexibility in terms of collaborative environments, which allows people to better address the most complex issues.

This new idea is already being tested. The HCI is implementing it in order to improve research on Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists have been combining two micro-tasking systems to generate an interactive environment that makes it easier to create models of the blood flow within test mice’s brains.

“By enabling members of the general public to play some simple online game, we expect to reduce the time to treatment discovery from decades to just a few years. This gives an opportunity for anyone, including the tech-savvy generation of caregivers and early stage AD patients, to take the matter into their own hands”, said HCI director and lead study author Dr. Pietro Michelucci.

Moreover, scientists from the Cornell University are working on, a human computation project launched in 2012 to map global conservation efforts. It enables people to share and build on each other’s work through a map-based social network, aiming to produce scalable changes in terms of global conservation.

Pietro Michelucci, head of the Virginia Institute and co-author on the Science column, pointed out that the collaboration has to be “fun, easy and quick” to attract millions of people.

Source: Neuroscience News