Thomas Malone: Collective intelligence to address climate change — finalists chosen in world-wide contest

It’s been over a year since we launched the Climate CoLab and held our first world-wide contest. Our goal was to create a site to harness the ideas and knowledge of thousands of people to find real solutions to climate change. Inspired by systems like Wikipedia and Linux, we wanted to collect the best collective intelligence to come up with proposals for what can be done about this problem.

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The new frontier of work: Hyperspecialization

For the past five years, our work at MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence has looked at how new communication technologies—particularly the Internet— enable large numbers of people all over the planet to work together in new and different ways. Last year my colleagues and I unveiled our first attempt at
“mapping the genome” of collective intelligence* by identifying the building blocks of how companies can construct productive and efficient collective intelligence systems.

Our newest addition to the genome is  hyperspecialization. The idea, which we have written about in the latest edition of Harvard Business Review,** refers to the way in which work that was previously done by one person is now being broken into more-specialized pieces done by several people.

Hyperspecialization is not the same as outsourcing or offshoring, though it is enabled by the same technologies. Here’s a way to wrap your brain around the idea: Read More »

Solving Climate Change with Crowdsourcing

Many people would say that one of the most important problems facing humanity today is global climate change. It is affected by all of our actions, and it will potentially affect every one of us. But even though many scientists, journalists, politicians, businesses, and consumers are talking about this problem, we aren’t even close to solving it.

Fortunately, at the same time that we have this potentially huge global problem, we also have the possibility of using a new kind of global problem solving approach. As examples like Wikipedia and Linux show, it’s now possible to harness the collective intelligence of thousands of people around the world to work closely together at a scale that was never possible before in human history.

In the Climate CoLab project, we’re applying this approach to climate change. An online community of people from all over the world is already creating, analyzing, and discussing detailed proposals for how to address global climate change. For instance, last fall we had a global competition for proposals addressing the question: What international climate agreements should the world community make? Read More »