Before the Internet most collaborators had to be sufficiently close by to work together towards a certain goal. Now, the cost of collaborating with anybody anywhere on the world has been reduced to almost zero. As a result large-scale collaboration between humans and computers has become technically feasible. In these collaborative setups humans can carry the part of the weight of processing. Hence, people and computers become a kind of “global brain” of distributed interleaved human-machine computation (often called collective intelligence, social computing, or various other terms). Human computers as part of computational processes, however, come with their own strengths and issues. In particular, they exhibit three special traits: motivational diversity, cognitive diversity, and error diversity. In this talk I present the general idea of the global brain and discuss the implications of this new kind of computer for computer science.
Abraham Bernstein is a Full Professor of informatics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. His current research focuses on various aspects of the semantic web, knowledge discovery/data mining, crowd computing/collective intelligence, and data stream processing. His work is based on both social science (organizational psychology/sociology/economics) and technical (computer science, artificial intelligence) foundations. Mr. Bernstein is a Ph.D. from MIT and has a Diploma in Computer Science (comparable to a M.S.) from the Swiss Federal Institute in Zurich (ETH). He is on the editorial board of the ACM Transactions on Intelligent Interactive Systems (TIIS), International Journal on Semantic Web and Information Systems (IJSWIS), Informatik Spektrum by Springer, and the Journal of Web Semantics: Science, Services and Agents on the World Wide Web (JWS) as well as the executive board of the Swiss informatics society, ICTswitzerland, and the Semantic Web Science Association.