Collective intelligence isn’t inherently new. For centuries, humans have been finding ways to work together and bring together disparate information. Take for example the Oxford English Dictionary, produced in the nineteenth century by thousands of volunteers who submitted words and their etymologies. In the digital age, however, such collective intelligence efforts have exploded. Advances in digital technologies, including AI, are enabling us to
Our analysis of hundreds of examples of collective intelligence has shown that it is particularly useful for:
Understanding problems through drawing on novel data or combining existing data sets to generate insights, facts, and information to understand a situation better. Examples of this are PetaBencana, a platform that crowdsources reports of flooding in Jakarta from citizens on Twitter to create real-time flood maps used by citizens, or Haze Gazer, a crisis analysis and visualisation tool that provides real-time situational information from various data sources to enhance disaster management efforts.
Finding potential solutions to a problem either through tapping into a wider range of innovators to generate new approaches or seeking out tested solutions from elsewhere. Examples of this are Wefarm, a free SMS peer-to-peer information service for small-scale farmers in East Africa, or BlockByBlock, where citizens can co-create their community space. Tools like AllOurIdeas allow citizens to contribute their ideas about what their city should look like.
Deciding and acting on a problem collectively by bringing together a diverse range of people and relevant actors who provide collaborative input, discuss, and prioritise issues and solutions. An example of this is vTaiwan, a hybrid online and offline consultation process to crowdsource citizen priorities and ideas and support meaningful discussion. Tools like Loomio and Pol.is are enabling online group decision-making.
Learning and adapting through crowdsourcing information and creating shared repositories of knowledge. Examples include Public Lab’s work to hold BP accountable for the Gulf oil spill clear-up through citizen monitoring, and the Human Diagnosis Project which crowdsources and ranks diagnostic advice from thousands of doctors to provide ongoing training for health professionals and medical students.
Although the field of collective intelligence is growing, both as an academic discipline and in practice, it is tiny compared to artificial intelligence. We want to focus more resources on collective intelligence, because solving our global challenges requires us to get smarter at working together, and mobilised distributed intelligence, not just by making smarter machines alone.
This year, we are expanding the total funding available for experiments in collective intelligence design to £500,000 with our co-funders the Wellcome Trust, Cloudera Foundation, and the Omidyar Network. Organisations will be able to apply for grants of up to £30,000 each to carry out practical experiments that provide actionable and generalisable insights.
We want to fund practical experiments that help generate evidence on the best approaches to designing and employing collective intelligence to solve social challenges. In this round, we will fund approximately 16 experiments with grants of up to £30,000 each. Five of these will focus specifically on the field of health.
We are especially interested in proposals related to education, the future of work, government innovation and health. We are also open to ideas that do not fit within these areas, such as the environment and climate change, urban development, or international development. Please note though that we can only fund projects that advance Nesta’s charitable objects for public benefit.
Proposals should be able to clearly explain the hypothesis that they want to test and how this will be done. Below is a list of potential areas for experimentation. Please note the examples are not exhaustive, so experiments looking at other areas are also encouraged.
The end product from the experiments should be increased understanding on how we can best design for collective intelligence and make the most of the new technologies available to help with thinking and acting - technologies for watching, counting, matching, and predicting.
Wellcome Trust is partnering with Nesta in this call for ideas to support five experiments that explore how collective intelligence can support public engagement with health research. Areas of experimentation that are of interest for these grants include
To be eligible for this funding, proposals will need to show a clear overlap between scientific research, health, and the public.
Please note that you will be asked to indicate in the application form whether you’re applying for one of the health-specific grants.
In addition to funding of up to £30,000, we can also support the selected teams in other ways. We may:
The experiments should generate new insights on collective intelligence design (e.g., models, frameworks, features, approaches) based on evidence with general application for others to adapt, adopt, or test further. Insights and recommendations will be collated and published by Nesta to inform and advance the field of collective intelligence design.
This call is relevant for organisations already combining human and machine intelligence, and who want to test a variety of approaches or a new approach to better understand what works in designing or applying collective intelligence for social good. It is also relevant for social sector organisations with strong technology skills and/or a technology partner who wants to compare different ways to harness collective intelligence to tackle an important social problem. It is also relevant for research institutions with strong applied research credentials and for companies/start-ups who would like to explore potential social benefits from existing collective intelligence ‘products’.
We welcome applications from registered organisations based anywhere in the UK or internationally. We aim to fund a diverse community of grantees and are particularly keen to support experiments from minority-serving institutions and from organisations that have demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. We will not fund individuals.
To be considered, submitted ideas must:
We are not able to support ideas that:
We invite you to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) form by Friday, 25th of October 2019, 11am GMT (UK time). In this expression of interest you will be asked to indicate whether you wish to apply for a health grant or a general collective intelligence grant.
Based on the ideas submitted, Nesta will create a shortlist of ideas with greatest potential. If deemed necessary, we will invite shortlisted applicants to a video call to give you feedback on the proposals and review and work on their ideas together. The aim of this is to support development of the shortlisted ideas, explore any outstanding questions and concerns raised during the review process, and to ensure the proposals are adequately framed as collective intelligence experiments.
Shortlisted candidates will then be invited to submit full applications. The final proposals will initially be reviewed by one or more relevant members of an external advisory group and experts from other relevant Nesta teams to help us assess the applications.
We will then score proposals based on the selection criteria, taking into account the input from the external advisory group and Nesta experts. Final decisions about funding will be made by the team at the Centre for Collective Intelligence Design.
Deadline for submitting your expression of interest for the small grants is Friday, 25th October 2019, 11am GMT (UK time).
We expect experiments to take a maximum of 10 months to complete from the awarding of the grant.
Please have a look at our FAQs if you have any questions relating to this small grant programme. If your question is not answered there, please contact [email protected].