Large-Scale Collaboration for Complex Challenges
short description
Build a platform that supports millions of people collaborating to solve a complex, large-scale problem.
Your Story
What are you passionate about? [public]
I’m passionate about using technology for social good and figuring out how to get crowds to solve complex problems. I recognize the prize model’s centuries of success in incentivizing solutions from large diverse groups. I hope this model can help humanity collaborate at the scale necessary to be able to solve many of the other complex, grand-scale challenges that we collectively need to solve soon, such as responding to climate change or providing food/water/energy/healthcare/education for 9B people by 2040.
As seen in my license plate (WHAT IF), I highly value creative, innovative thinking.
Your Prize Concept
If you are selected as a Visioneer, you will develop a prize concept in collaboration with a company sponsor, fellow innovators, and the XPRIZE team. This may or may not be the challenge concept you propose in this application.
What do you prize? [public]
Build a platform that supports millions of people collaborating to solve a complex, large-scale problem. Show that it works.
What Grand Challenge do you propose a prize competition should solve? [public]
Some of the grand challenges facing humanity today are too complex for any single person or small team to be able to completely understand by themselves. The complexity of some of these challenges is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle with a billion pieces, where somebody threw away the box and mailed each piece to a different person. Can we now build the platform where people can bring their piece and see where it fits in, and what other pieces connect most closely to it? *Building that platform* is the challenge I propose a prize competition should solve.
Most of the building blocks necessary to do this exist now, and an increasingly large and diverse set of people have Internet access and experience contributing to conversations online. Wikipedia, open source, citizen science, e.g. Clay Shirky’s books, & maybe even a US election in which millions more people voted for “stronger together” than “I alone can fix it” indicate that a lot of people are seeking to more actively engage in making time-and-effort contributions to larger causes, are getting used to doing so online, and these collective efforts can be quite significant. It’d be great if this could be tapped to solve big problems.
What would the world look like when the Grand Challenge is solved? [public]
In just 10 days, the specialized game FoldIt solved an AIDS science problem breakthrough that stumped scientists for years ( Bernstein & others have built “flash organizations” to build software, games, and even some scientific contributions (, and other groups are seeing limited but increasing success in crowdsourcing complex work. After this XPRIZE is awarded, humanity will have a new capacity to solve global and societal-scale challenges such as climate change, epidemics, responses to natural disasters, etc. by working together at an unprecedented scale.

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