Tiltfactor researcher Geoff recently represented the lab (and the Metadata Games project in particular) at the 2014 Human Computation Roadmap Summit, held at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, from June 18-20. This 2.5 day workshop, which brought together a diverse array of scholars, researchers, and industry representatives from the field of human computation, focused on identifying key success stories and laying out potential future research directions concerning the use of various facets of human computation (including systems such as crowdsourcing platforms, social networks, and online games) for the betterment of society. In addition to utilizing a number of unique and creative approaches to trigger thought and discussion (e.g., an illuminating conversation with scientist and author David Brin centering on the value of science fiction in highlighting future horizons for human computation), the summit gave participants the opportunity to form smaller working groups to devise and iteratively refine a set of detailed research roadmaps for the potential employment of human computation to address a particular social cause or issue.
The specific topics explored by the groups ranged from the fantastical and whimsical (e.g., how human computation can help someone earn a billion dollars in five years time) to the straightforward and earnest (e.g., directing human computation to identifying and aiding at-risk youth in local communities). The working group that Geoff joined investigated the hot-button issue of climate change skepticism, and the group’s research roadmap included a multi-prong approach for using human computation to correct misperceptions and misinformation in the climate change debate, incorporating crowdsourcing “micro-tasks” (e.g., ones to identify and categorize the language and rhetoric used in public statements from climate change skeptics to build an “information landscape”) and games addressing the psychological factors that perpetuate misperceptions (e.g., confirmation bias in the selective search for and favoring of belief-affirming sources and information). Each group was given the chance to present their roadmap “pitches” to a visiting representative from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who offered his insights on the best ways to frame and deliver project proposals to policymakers.
The summit’s focus on the use of technology and the harnessing of collective wisdom for social change, as well as its emphasis on personal and societal values in the design and deployment of human computation initiatives, proved to be a perfect fit with the ethos of Tiltfactor and the goals of the Metadata Games project. The workshop’s stimulating discussions and activities offered a number of valuable new perspectives on the lab’s endeavors to motivate and mobilize crowds to contribute new knowledge and affirmed our deep belief in the value of uniquely human attributes (such as the use of language, inference, abstraction, sociocultural awareness, creativity, and empathy) in solving society’s problems.