The Wisdom of (Cyborg) Crowds

The past decade has shown both the great strengths and great weaknesses of large scale, distributed crowd action. As we enter the next decade, how might we do better? This talk will take a wide-ranging, retrospective approach: examining the crowd in a variety of contexts from scaled funny cat production to large-scale political mobilization. It will also examine the intellectual history of the crowd, examining the arguments made by scholars in favor and against it. Based on this discussion, we will turn the possibility of cyborg-crowds – automated systems of various kinds that are built with shaping and optimizing the behavior of crowds in mind. In particular, we will examine experiments into the use of swarms of realistic automated identities online to shape the topology of social networks on a large scale. The ethics, economics, and future prospects of doing so will be examined alongside the engineering challenges.

Speaker Details

Tim Hwang is the director of the Pacific Social Architecting Corporation, a SF-based research and development firm creating technologies that enable large-scale, automated social shaping. He is also the co-founder of ROFLCon, a conference that brings together scholars, commentators, and internet celebrities to talk about the past, present, and future of web culture. Previously, he has worked at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, Creative Commons, Mozilla Foundation, Tumblr, Google and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In his other life, he is also co-founder of the Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences, a worldwide, distributed alliance of groups devoted to using micro-grants to forward the interests of awesomeness in the universe. He enjoys ice cream.

Tim Hwang
Pacific Social Architecting Corporation

Series: Microsoft Research Talks