Human-machine superintelligence can solve the world's most dire problems

December 31, 2015
Credit: George Hodan/Public Domain

The combination of human and computer intelligence might be just what we need to solve the "wicked" problems of the world, such as climate change and geopolitical conflict, say researchers from the Human Computation Institute (HCI) and Cornell University.

In an article published in the journal Science, the authors present a new vision of human computation (the science of crowd-powered systems), which pushes beyond traditional limits, and takes on hard problems that until recently have remained out of reach.

Humans surpass machines at many things, ranging from simple pattern recognition to creative abstraction. With the help of computers, these cognitive abilities can be effectively combined into multidimensional collaborative networks that achieve what traditional problem-solving cannot.

Most of today's human computation systems rely on sending bite-sized 'micro-tasks' to many individuals and then stitching together the results. For example, 165,000 volunteers in EyeWire have analyzed thousands of images online to help build the world's most complete map of human retinal neurons.

This microtasking approach alone cannot address the tough challenges we face today, say the authors. A radically new approach is needed to solve "wicked problems" - those that involve many interacting systems that are constantly changing, and whose solutions have unforeseen consequences (e.g., corruption resulting from financial aid given in response to a natural disaster).

New human computation technologies can help. Recent techniques provide real-time access to crowd-based inputs, where individual contributions can be processed by a computer and sent to the next person for improvement or analysis of a different kind. This enables the construction of more flexible collaborative environments that can better address the most challenging issues.

This idea is already taking shape in several human computation projects, including YardMap.org, which was launched by the Cornell in 2012 to map efforts one parcel at a time.

"By sharing and observing practices in a map-based social network, people can begin to relate their individual efforts to the global conservation potential of living and working landscapes," says Janis Dickinson, Professor and Director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

YardMap allows participants to interact and build on each other's work - something that crowdsourcing alone cannot achieve. The project serves as an important model for how such bottom-up, socially networked systems can bring about scalable changes how we manage residential landscapes.

HCI has recently set out to use crowd-power to accelerate Cornell-based Alzheimer's disease research. WeCureAlz.com combines two successful microtasking systems into an interactive analytic pipeline that builds blood flow models of mouse brains. The stardust@home system, which was used to search for comet dust in one million images of aerogel, is being adapted to identify stalled blood vessels, which will then be pinpointed in the brain by a modified version of the EyeWire system.

"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", says HCI director and lead author, Dr. Pietro Michelucci. "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."

Explore further: Citizen science boosts bird conservation

More information: "The power of crowds", DOI: 10.1126/science.aad6499

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KBK
4.5 / 5 (8) Dec 31, 2015
We don't have major problems...

We have an extreme, deeply burrowed in,fanatical, parasitical "sociopaths hiding behind the throne, controlling things" problem.

The way problems work, is that the longer the problem is around ----- the more basic the mistake, the more fundamental the component(s) of the question that is missing.... in the formulation of the question.

And these problems are millennia long in the tooth.

The problem is the lack of recognition of, and the removal of..... the psychopaths and sociopaths that hide among the people who seek to rule.

The problem of their existence sit unrecognized due to their level of intelligence being slightly beyond the average person, and their learned behavior of working the system(s).

Get rid of them , and all 'off course' motions of humanity disappear ----almost overnight.

The problem is that journalists and reporters will never speak of this, they are either blind, herd-like, full of fear, or all of the above.
Whydening Gyre
4.9 / 5 (11) Dec 31, 2015
KBK,
You're an optimist, I'm guessin'...
tblakely1357
3.3 / 5 (4) Dec 31, 2015
"The combination of human and computer intelligence might be just what we need to solve the 'wicked' problems of the world, such as climate change and geopolitical conflict"

Or install an all encompassing tyranny. Tools can be used for good or evil. The question is, "Can we trust the organization(s) producing such tools?". Sadly, many scientists these days are statists at heart and not all that interested in personal freedom so I'm not too optimistic.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (7) Jan 01, 2016
(Sigh...)
Another poor soul on the path of self pity and hopelessness...
(Just in case no one noticed - I like sarcasm, tonite...)
Tblakely,
A human/machine intelligence just might sidestep that little "bump" you place in the road...
Protoplasmix
4.4 / 5 (7) Jan 01, 2016
Surely a worthy resolution for the new year, let's solve the world's problems. I'm there.

Can't believe it's the year ~ 13,799,000,000 (± 21,000,000) already.

Happy, Peaceful and Prosperous New Year, All.
Lino235
4.6 / 5 (7) Jan 01, 2016
Intelligence either builds nuclear bombs or nuclear plants. Of itself, it is rather neutral. Wisdom is needed. And anyone who thinks "superintelligence" can solve all problems lacks wisdom. End of story.
Mike_Massen
1.9 / 5 (9) Jan 01, 2016
tblakely1357 claims
Sadly, many scientists these days are statists at heart and not all that interested in personal freedom so I'm not too optimistic
Prove it !

Scientists I know, there are many, adhere to "The discipline of the acquisition of knowledge", ie They don't make idle arbitrary guesses, they use stats as tools, with integration of Physics & with "Balance of Probability", thus they're; chem, electronic, biological, mech, civil, med engineers, etc

Strongly suggest you get a base handle on key maths which underlies Physics upon whic vast majohrity of (physical) Sciences are based & to a lesser degree but, still of import re biochemistry is Psychology re Operant/Classical conditioning, helpful !

ie. Science is no-where near as simplistic/narrow as your shallow uneducated claim purports to have semblance of cognition, Please FFS an education before making propaganda like redneck blurts not consistent with evidence on a public forum

ie Learn Physics !
Disproselyte
not rated yet Jan 01, 2016
There's already fundamental research on that matter: https://sites.goo...native1/
Steve 200mph Cruiz
5 / 5 (3) Jan 01, 2016
Tblaky,
The whole reason these problems are so complicated is precisely because you can't create an all encompassing tyranny.
People have to be united behind a common ideology and have similar values before they form a government together.
I'd think trying to preserve America the way it is now over the next 100 years will be the issue, forget about us becoming apart of a larger thing
Jeffhans1
3 / 5 (4) Jan 01, 2016
As our plastic brains integrate computers giving us perfect recall, lightening fast calculations along with instant access to any knowledge known to man we will finally be able to actually understand one another for the first time. Direct mind to mind mental communication will allow for sharing of emotions and undertones that never make it into the verbal or body language well enough to be totally understood. Also the differences between someone with an IQ of 70 and 140 would become nonexistent once our brains have been linked with computers. My guess is that the former Gumps will end up contributing more to progress than the former Einsteins ever did.
Caliban
3.5 / 5 (8) Jan 01, 2016
Nice job of marketing your yet-to-be-funded merchandise, Human Computation Institute (HCI) and Cornell University.

And thanks for further muddying the distinction between "Big Ideas" and "Big Bullshit"

The necessities for solving the problems listed are near to hand --should we choose to use them-- and are, namely, the Social, Political and Economic WILL to change them.

No hyperintelligent human-machine hybrid needed.
viko_mx
2.8 / 5 (11) Jan 01, 2016
"The combination of human and computer intelligence might be just what we need to solve the "wicked" problems of the world, such as climate change and geopolitical conflict, say researchers from the Human Computation Institute (HCI) and Cornell University."

This is humanistic delirium.
There is no such thing like machine intelligence. This is human intelligence, formalized in computer algorithm. There is no imagination, emotions and feelings. No dynamically changing connections between neurons - highly energy efficient hardware preconfiguration. No analog transmission of information by indiscreet values. No highly efficient 3d Structure. Pure computer program and data base with a low level of complexity, which performs the same algorithm indefinitely until it programmer decides otherwise.
The wicked problems is thanks to lawlessness and its effective decision is well known thank to the Creator.
finitesolutions
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 01, 2016
What a load of crap. Plenty of humans have financial problems that bank computer servers everywhere are more than capable of solving . Every human on this planet gets 750 monetary units in a bank account every month just to go around. Lots of problems will be solved by this.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (4) Jan 01, 2016
This is humanistic delirium.
There is no such thing like machine intelligence. This is human intelligence, formalized in computer algorithm. There is no imagination, emotions and feelings. No dynamically changing connections between neurons - highly energy efficient hardware preconfiguration. No analog transmission of information by indiscreet values. No highly efficient 3d Structure. Pure computer program and data base with a low level of complexity, which performs the same algorithm indefinitely until it programmer decides otherwise.


Yet...
jsdarkdestruction
5 / 5 (5) Jan 01, 2016
How exactly can this solve human greed and our natural tendency to disagree on things based off feelings?A large amount of said problems are problems related to those. We have the abilities to solve most already.
henk_nijsingh
not rated yet Jan 02, 2016
Computers aren't to be called "intelligent". They have computional power, that's all. However I won't deny the use of artificial intelligence, but only for as long as humans can learn from it, not that it take decisions.

"System thinking" might be a better approach for problems like this. And that's about human thinking.
henk_nijsingh
1 / 5 (3) Jan 02, 2016
... And yes, what's needed is wisdom, we need philosophy (but these scientists like to feel superior so they don't like philosophy so they produce bullshit). We need to use our international institutions properly, they must cooperate with each other and with countries' governments. And we need "better knowledge".
Dug
5 / 5 (3) Jan 02, 2016
"The combination of human and computer intelligence might be just what we need to solve the "wicked" problems of the world, such as climate change and geopolitical conflict."

Not really. We have had the ability to see our major problems and solutions long before now and long before computers. The problems are obvious to any one who will seriously consider them in cold unbiased analytical thought - as are their solutions when considered in equally non-emotional analysis. However the general public will not the provide the necessary serious consideration, nor will they accept the solutions that will affect them greatly. Consequently, we wait for catastrophe and calamity to make these decisions for us.

kochevnik
5 / 5 (2) Jan 02, 2016
@KBK I know people with a psychopathic profile (inability to perceive suffering) yet they are extremely nice people in nature. They still have free will
my2cts
3.4 / 5 (10) Jan 02, 2016
@viko_mx

This is humanistic delirium.

To be distinguished from religious delirium, such as displayed in the rest of the post.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (9) Jan 02, 2016
There is no imagination, emotions and feelings
Youre right. These things are analogs of our more basic evolved animalistic behaviors. There is NOTHING in the human psyche which cannot be found in the animal world in a more basic and recognizable and understandable form.

IOW your 'imagination, emotions and feelings' along with your 'consciousness' and your soul, are all illusions.

Learn to let go viko. When you die you end. This is what all of nature tells us.

What makes you think we're different, 'special'? A book full of lies? Wishful thinking?

"18 I also said to myself, "As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals." -ecc3

-And I suggest you read your book for what it says and not what you would like it to say.
kochevnik
5 / 5 (1) Jan 02, 2016
Machines will never be able to think as humans as long as they are metal, which short-circuits the human charge field, which is life itself. The brain has emotions because they(emotions) rebalance directed action to yield meaning. Machines lack emotion so are totally without feeling
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (10) Jan 02, 2016
they are extremely nice people in nature. They still have free will
Sounds like you dont know what psychopathy is.

"Imagine - if you can - not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken.

"You are not held back from any of your desires by guilt or shame, and you are never confronted by others for your cold-bloodedness. The ice water in your veins is so bizarre, so completely outside of their personal experience, that they seldom even guess at your condition.

""Likeable," "Charming," "Intelligent," "Alert," "Impressive," "Confidence-inspiring," and "A great success with the ladies": These are the sorts of descriptions repeatedly used..."
cont>
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (9) Jan 02, 2016
"One psychopath interviewed by Hare's team said quite frankly: "The first thing I do is I size you up. I look for an angle, an edge, figure out what you need and give it to you. Then it's pay-back time, with interest."

"This leads us to an important quesion: what does the psychopath REALLY get from their victims? It's easy to see what they are after when they lie and manipulate for money or material goods or power. But in many instances, such as love relationships or faked friendships, it is not so easy to see what the psychopath is after... we can only say that it seems to be that the psychopath ENJOYS making others suffer. Just as normal humans enjoy seeing other people happy, or doing things that make other people smile, the psychopath enjoys the exact opposite."
http://www.cassio...path.htm

-You must be talking about psychopaths who want something that you have, like self-confidence or peace of mind.
kochevnik
5 / 5 (3) Jan 02, 2016
Otto the human is programmed for action. Psychopaths are alive but their empathy circuits are often absent. They only feel for themselves. It is important to realize they are locked in a mutant brain and, if they are receptive, deserve help. It is also important to note that a psychopath can hug you and plunge a knife in your back simultaneously. Extreme people require extreme caring and caution. Their psychopathy is set for life
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (9) Jan 02, 2016
Machines will never be able to think as humans as long as they are metal, which short-circuits the human charge field, which is life itself. The brain has emotions because they(emotions) rebalance directed action to yield meaning. Machines lack emotion so are totally without feeling
Well of course not. Our reasoning abilities are inextricably bound to our desires for propagation and self-preservation. We are terrified of our mortality and this drives most of us insane in one way or another.

Further, our brains have been forced to grow far beyond sustainability by millenia of tribal warfare. This has left them defect-prone and subject to catastrophic failure. They are resource-hungry and begin to deterioriate soon after adolescence.

In short the human brain is obsolete which is why we are feverishly creating machines to augment and replace its functions. But as with any design plagued with basic structural flaws, it is best to start over from scratch.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (9) Jan 02, 2016
if they are receptive, deserve help
"Manipulation is the key to the psychopath's conquests. Initially, the psychopath will feign false emotions to create empathy, and many of them study the tricks that can be employed by the empathy technique.

"One of the basic assumptions of psychotherapy is that the patient needs and wants help for distressing or painful psychological and emotional problems. The psychopath does not think that they have any psychological or emotional problems, and they see no reason to change their behavior to conform to standards with which they do not agree. They are well-satisfied with themselves and their inner landscape. They see nothing wrong with they way they think or act, and they never look back with regret or forward with concern... They feel it is the optimum thing to do to manipulate and deceive others..."

-Good luck with the help thing.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (1) Jan 02, 2016
-Good luck with the help thing.
I would prefer being with a human psychopath rather than a computer, which is an artificial psychopath
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.6 / 5 (11) Jan 02, 2016
-Good luck with the help thing.
I would prefer being with a human psychopath rather than a computer, which is an artificial psychopath
Computers have no reason to make others suffer. They would get no pleasure from it.

Psychopaths do. Theyre also preoccupied with self-preservation and propagation which makes them particularly dangerous.

One is not the other. Why are you afraid of machines?

One thing they should be able to do is identify psychopaths. As KBK says this will make them invaluable to social health.
henk_nijsingh
3.5 / 5 (4) Jan 02, 2016
Just a side note: A computer is not a machine, it doesn't do mechanical work. Considering the discussion: Computers not only lack feeling and emotions, they lack a creative mind. And humans probably can never engineer/program that. So we should not want to do computers things humans can do far better themselves. Computers are not more than an aid.
RichTheEngineer
1 / 5 (1) Jan 02, 2016
And when "solution" to all these "wicked" problems is to get rid of about 100% of world population, especially "scientists"? Oops, I guess super-intelligences isn't the wa....... Too late, monkey boy!
RichTheEngineer
not rated yet Jan 02, 2016
Computers have no reason to make others suffer. They would get no pleasure from it.


Nor would they feel any empathy if people were to suffer from their "solutions." Null program.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (7) Jan 02, 2016
Just a side note: A computer is not a machine, it doesn't do mechanical work. Considering the discussion: Computers not only lack feeling and emotions, they lack a creative mind. And humans probably can never engineer/program that.

All it would take is for a computer to start examining it's own operation and begin second-guessing itself...:-)
syndicate_51
5 / 5 (2) Jan 03, 2016
Except someone will weaponize it first.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (6) Jan 03, 2016
Except someone will weaponize it first.

And so, the second guessing begins...
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.6 / 5 (10) Jan 03, 2016
Just a side note: A computer is not a machine, it doesn't do mechanical work
Just a note beside your side note:

"Machine
1.
a. A device consisting of fixed and moving parts that modifies mechanical energy and transmits it in a more useful form.
2. A system or device for doing work, as an automobile or jackhammer, together with its power source and auxiliary equipment.
3. A system or device, such as a computer, that performs or assists in the performance of a human task"

-You ought to do a little research before offering an opinion.

More flummery...
they lack a creative mind
Define 'creative' and 'mind'. Hint: there is no such thing as mind. People have brains. Brains are machines. Computers are much better brains and are capable of producing novel solutions to problems.

A question worth considering is; what makes you think that the bulk of what you consider human creativity isnt just a waste of time? Is art a diversion? Why is it that humans need diversions?
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (10) Jan 03, 2016
The more 'creativity' we discard in favor of using the scientific method to gain insight and knowledge about ourselves and the universe, the faster we advance.

What makes you think that creativity isnt a product of brains which seek to deny reality? Remember the artsy rabbits in watership down? They spent all their time creating just to avoid the reality that the farmer would sooner or later come to eat them.

In this case at least, creativity is a form of insanity. In this case it is equivalent to faith... the denial of evidence.

In the future there will be no art, no music, no superstition, no politics. The flaws in our brains which make us crave these things will have been fixed and we will find comfort and pleasure in accepting things as they are and not how we might want them to be.
antigoracle
3.3 / 5 (7) Jan 03, 2016
"wicked" problems of the world, such as climate change and geopolitical conflict

They certainly got the "wicked" part right, since both of those "problems" are driven by lies and greed and sustained by ignorance.
Mike_Massen
2.2 / 5 (10) Jan 03, 2016
antigoracle muttered in his usual offhand imprecise sniping way indistinctly throwing prejudice around
They certainly got the "wicked" part right, since both of those "problems" are driven by lies and greed and sustained by ignorance
Really ?
So, if addressing Climate Change problem then its clear you have still failed to come to terms
with straightforward radiative transfer
https://en.wikipe...transfer
Which leads to
https://en.wikipe..._forcing
Components of which graphically illustrated here
http://cbc.arizon.../sim/gh/

Anything at all even a wee bit smarter than redneck one liners betraying the immense political agenda inherent in your anonymous nick ?

Heard of Physics re radiative heat transfer, not refuted ever even after ~100yrs, the key basis for just WHY GHG's ie CO2 have the effect they do...

Anything antigoracle even mildly approaching a thoughtful (smart) dialectic ?
Burnerjack
3 / 5 (2) Jan 03, 2016
Allow the population to decrease to about 1 billion over the next 100 years. Problems solved.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (2) Jan 04, 2016
Define 'creative' and 'mind'. Hint: there is no such thing as mind. People have brains. Brains are machines. Computers are much better brains and are capable of producing novel solutions to problems.
Mind is the charge field created by the organs and blood. Brains are not machines they are a physical system able to untangle space knots back to the origin, or singularity. Time is a fiction there is only space, the knots of which are events. A knot chronology of twisting measures time. Time is dynamic as knots are unwound. Energy has not existence but matter is light trapped in a knot, which captures inertia and makes duality. The mind taps this via phase conjugation which creates an inherent still point singularity, comparable to a black hole supercomputer
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.5 / 5 (8) Jan 04, 2016
Mind is the charge field created by the organs and blood. Brains are not machines they are a physical system able to untangle space knots back to the origin, or singularity. Time is a fiction there is only space, the knots of which are events. A knot chronology of twisting measures time. Time is dynamic as knots are unwound. Energy has not existence but matter is light trapped in a knot, which captures inertia and makes duality. The mind taps this via phase conjugation which creates an inherent still point singularity, comparable to a black hole supercomputer
- blah?

Hows the vodka over there this time of year?
Uncle Ira
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 04, 2016
Define 'creative' and 'mind'. Hint: there is no such thing as mind. People have brains. Brains are machines. Computers are much better brains and are capable of producing novel solutions to problems.
Mind is the charge field created by the organs and blood. Brains are not machines they are a physical system able to untangle space knots back to the origin, or singularity. Time is a fiction there is only space, the knots of which are events. A knot chronology of twisting measures time. Time is dynamic as knots are unwound. Energy has not existence but matter is light trapped in a knot, which captures inertia and makes duality. The mind taps this via phase conjugation which creates an inherent still point singularity, comparable to a black hole supercomputer


Did you get the sneaky peeky lookee loo at Really-Skippy's toes that he has been trying to keep secret?
kochevnik
4 / 5 (1) Jan 04, 2016
Hows the vodka over there this time of year?
Ukrainian vodka is the best as it leaves no hangover!

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