Nesta is offering grants of up to £20,000 for projects that generate new knowledge on how to advance collective intelligence (combining human and machine intelligence) to solve social problems.
Collective intelligence isn’t inherently new. For centuries, humans have been finding ways to aggregate 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. The recommendation engines of Netflix and Amazon influence our shopping and viewing behaviour. Crowdsourced contributions, such as Galaxy Zoo, Wikipedia, Patient Innovation, have challenged elite professional fields to open up to citizen involvement. The wisdom of the crowd is being harnessed through new abilities to share and aggregate opinions or predictions, including Unanimous AI, and Gnosis. Collective intelligence is also helping us learn faster, exemplified by Duolingo, and improving understanding of situations in real-time, as Waze and Ushahidi have shown. New tools like Loomio are facilitating group decision-making, and citizen observatories enabling cooperative community planning. Platforms such as Consul are helping change the way that policies and laws get made or, like the TrudeauMeter, enabling citizens to track politicians on their delivery of promises.
It now seems inevitable that our lives will be more interwoven with intelligent machinery that will shape, challenge, supplant, and amplify us, frequently at the same time. The question we should be asking is not whether this will happen but rather how we can shape these tools so that they shape us well, enhancing our ability to tackle the social problems that beset us.
Although there is an emerging academic discipline of collective intelligence and a field of promising practice, it is tiny compared to artificial intelligence. We want to focus more resource and build greater knowledge on the potential for innovation when human and machine intelligence is combined by working with others around the world.
As a first step, Nesta is offering grants of up to £20,000 for organisations to do this through practical experiments that will provide actionable and generalisable insights into good collective intelligence design.
We want to fund applied research/practical experiments that help generate evidence on the best approaches to designing and employing collective intelligence (human and machine intelligence) to solve social challenges.
Proposals should fit within the broad focus of the Centre for Collective Intelligence Design, as also set out in this blog. We are especially interested in proposals from fields such as health, education/ future skills, and government innovation, but are also open to ideas that do not fit within these areas. Please note though that Nesta can only fund projects that advance our charitable objects for public benefit.
Proposals should give an indication of the problem they are looking to solve 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 welcome.
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 flood of new technologies available to help with thinking and acting— technologies for watching, counting, matching, and predicting.
In addition to funding of up to £20,000, we can also support the selected teams in other ways. We may:
Desired outcomes for teams
Desired outcomes from experiments
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/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 will not fund individuals.
To be considered, submitted ideas must:
We are not able to support ideas that:
Based on the ideas submitted; Nesta will create a shortlist of ideas with greatest potential and will invite you to attend a meeting to develop them. Shortlisted applicants will meet with Nesta mentors and/or external advisors to review and work on the ideas together. The aim of this is to support development of all the shortlisted ideas. Meetings can take place either in London or by video conference.
Those with shortlisted ideas who have attended a meeting will then be invited to submit full applications and final decisions for funding will be made by Nesta.
Deadline for submitting your expression of interest for the small grants is Friday 9th November 2018.
Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions relating to this small grant programme.