How millions of people can help solve climate change — Thomas W. Malone, Robert Laubacher and Laur Fisher

Image credit: PBS

Image credit: PBS

From PBS NOVA Next

If there ever was a problem that’s hard to solve, it’s climate change. It’s a complex challenge requiring more expertise than any one person can possess—in-depth knowledge of the physics of the upper atmosphere, a firm grasp on the economics of technological innovation, and a thorough understanding of the psychology of human behavior change. What’s more, top-down approaches that have been tried for decades—like efforts to pass national legislation and to negotiate international agreements—while important, haven’t yet produced the kind of change scientists say is needed to avert climate change’s potential consequences.

But there’s at least one reason for optimism. We now have a new—and potentially more effective—way of solving complex global challenges: online crowdsourcing.

Millions of people around the world can now work together online to achieve a common goal at a scale and with a degree of collaboration that was never before possible. From Wikipedia to open source software to online citizen science projects, crowdsourcing has produced remarkable results in the worlds of education, technology, and science. Take the online game FoldIt, for example. In just ten days, players from around the world helped produce an accurate model of a key protein found in an HIV-like virus, solving a problem that had stumped scientists for 15 years.

We believe these examples are just the beginning of what’s possible.

Read the full post at PBS NOVA Next.  

Thomas W. Malone is the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI), and the principal investigator for the Climate CoLab project (which is part of CCI).

Robert Laubacher is associate director and a research scientist at MIT the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence and directs the Climate CoLab project on a day-to-day basis.

Laur Fisher is the community and partnerships manager for the Climate CoLab.

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