MIT/CoLab Contest: Crowdsourcing for Climate Change

There’s new meaning to being part of the climate change solution if MIT and the Climate CoLab online community can leverage their crowdsourcing contest into ideas that will shape an international climate agreement.

Last year’s UN climate conference in Copenhagen produced little progress and lots of frustration on the environmental-climate change front and the upcoming meetings in Cancun are not expected to fare much better.

So let’s have a Climate Contest!

MIT Sloan School of Management Professor Thomas Malone says it’s possible to give all interested parties a voice — and harness the ideas and knowledge of thousands to find real solutions — through the creation of the Climate CoLab, an online community that facilitates the creation, analysis, and discussion of detailed plans for addressing climate change.

“If ever there were a problem that needed the best collective intelligence that people and computers can muster, many would say this is it,” says Malone, who directs the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, which is leading the Climate CoLab project. “As examples like Wikipedia and Linux illustrate, it’s now possible to effectively harness the intelligence of far larger groups than could ever have been done before. That is the goal of our project – to combine the collective intelligence of thousands of people to come up with proposals for what can be done about global climate change.”

MIT/Climate CoLab this month launched the global competition for proposals that address this question: What international climate agreements should the world community make? Entries will be judged by some of the world’s leading climate researchers. The finalists’ proposals will then be voted on by members of the Climate CoLab community.

“There are many smart and creative people in the world from different backgrounds who have previously not been involved in serious discussions on this issue and we hope they enter the contest,” Malone says. “Anyone from artists and students to retired professionals and people professionally involved in the problem might be interested in forming teams to enter this contest. It’s a great opportunity to articulate their views to a broader audience.”

The climate contest, which CoLab says is a beta test of the overall crowdsourcing contest concept, has two rounds. The preliminary round, in which teams create their proposals, ends on Oct. 31. Judges will then select proposals for the finals based on their “feasibility, novelty and quality” and that also represent a diverse range of approaches.

In the final round (Nov. 8-26) all registered CoLab users vote for the proposal they prefer and the judges will also pick which proposals they see as the most desirable.

Prizes? Well it won’t exactly be like winning the lottery, but perhaps the planet will be the big winner.

Winning teams and their proposals will be featured on the home page of the Climate CoLab and in a press release from MIT. The Climate CoLab team will support travel by at least one representative from each winning team to one or more of the briefings planned with policy makers. The briefings will be arranged by the Climate CoLab, including a briefing in Washington, D.C. before Congress and a briefing to the U.N. Secretary General’s Climate Change Support Team in New York.

So get cranking! Is there power in social and online networks that can be harnessed to actually solve major problems and spur global action on climate change? Worth a try isn’t it?

writer, editor, reader and general good (ok mostly good, well sometimes good) guy trying to get by

2 responses

  1. Why not try to define more precisely what you think the problem is with the climate?

    Right now it’s like one of those management training courses where you’re 2 hours in and you realise that everyone in the team has a different brief and that’s why you’re making zero progress.

    Spell out the problem. No vague stuff, please.

  2. Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your content seem to be running off the screen in Ie. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the issue fixed soon. Many thanks

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