TED Conversations

Jason Joy

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using online collaboration for solving big problems

luis von ahn uses online collaboration with recaptcha and duolingo to translate large amounts of text. he breaks down this massive challenge in small steps (translating a word or a sentence) and uses computers to get it together.

division of labour was the magic formula to do complex work fast, error-free and feasible for workers without education. with the internet we now have millions of people connected. we should use that to solve big problems by breaking down complex intellectual problems in small steps that everyone can solve.

one application: diseases
finding a gene that causes a disease by comparing two dna's, one with the defect, one without. breaking down the dna- code to small steps and let it compare by millions of people online, like recaptcha does it with words.
if the difference is found, find out what the effect is on building proteins. trying out different chemicals that block the gene / the proteins by brute force method. letting again millions of people define the result of chemical reactions and then put it together by computers.

technical inventions:
breaking down technical challenges like improving solar panels in small steps that can be solved by an individual.

to participate, people could motivated by different approaches:
- forcing them (like recaptcha)
- people learn something by doing it (like duolingo)
- making it fun
- using the need of social acceptance: forum with likes, member status depending on how much one participates....

i'm not sure if and how this concept could work? what do you think?