UK-based innovation foundation Nesta is providing grants totalling £250,000 (€288,179) for 12 experiments investigating uses for collective intelligence.
“Collective intelligence” refers to the combination of human and artificial intelligence to solve an array of challenges, including addressing the aftereffects of natural disasters and increasing citizen participation in policy decisions. Kathy Peach, Head of Nesta’s Centre of Collective Intelligence Design, said: “If correctly orchestrated the wisdom of crowds can do things that no individual, even an expert could do, and in recent years we’ve also begun to see the incredible power of AI and other digital technologies. By bringing together the power of machines to help us analyse, predict and learn, with the tacit knowledge of crowds we can mobilise collective intelligence at scale.”
Nesta will distribute collective intelligence research funding grants of up to £20,000 (€23,042) to projects including:
- San Francisco-based Unanimous AI, which will explore whether “swarm” algorithms drawn from the behaviour of fish and bees can be applied to develop unity between opposing political groups;
- The Italian National Research Council’s Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (ISTC-CNR), which will investigate the potential of machine learning to mitigate social influence bias in collective decision making;
- Swansea University in Wales, which will examine possible uses of collective intelligence capabilities to process footage of airstrikes for use in court;
- Hong Kong Baptist University, which will trial a crowdsourcing platform to streamline volunteer food rescue activities; and
- The Artificial Intelligence Lab at Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, which will test the use of artificial intelligence elements as a potential effector of group behaviour in discussions of collective risk, with particular reference to climate change.
Ms Peach said: “Making progress in how we understand, think and act together is critical to solving some of the most complex challenges of our times – from climate change to prosperity and wellbeing. As the experiments funded by these grants show, collective intelligence design has huge potential for societal benefits. If a tiny percentage of the resources dedicated to artificial intelligence were redirected to this emerging field it could radically improve our democracies, bring human rights abusers to justice, strengthen disaster relief and help us to overcome our differences.”