Citizen, Science, Education and Technology: new synergies to be explored – Francois Taddei

Thursday 16th February

Speaker: Francois Taddei

Theme: Challenging Citizen Science

Background in engineering and biology, keeps on changing and embracing new things. The synergy between science, education and technology are what interests him. This is happening in a fast moving landscape: technology is evolving extremely fast. Computer that brought man to the moon has less computing power than your cellphone. Science is evolving very fast, there is an exponential increase in scientific journals. In the process we are reinventing the way we do things: Michael Nielsen writes about Reinventing Discovery, but it is already outdated. How to keep up? Can we imagine innovative solutions? There are no more walls, only imagined ones. One of the big walls that came down is when Francois realized that young children can contribute and publish scientific papers. Written by 8-10 year old children: blackawton bees. The children designed their own experiment, didn’t do as they were told. Another case a 14 year old teen builds an earthquake detector. He was a Chliean boy who was caught in an earthquake so developed a technology not to be caught by surprise again. Example of Fold-It: players solving scientific questions on proteins, but also change the way science is done. Changing the heuristics of science at the same time.

Learning through research, a way of empowering citizen scientists. In the past model the teacher is facilitating the student to go from core knowledge, through science into research. This takes many years to reach the stage where you can do research. With citizen cyber science you catalyse the movement of citizens to the frontiers of research very fast.  Will happen more and more in the future and will lead to very interesting things.

What is science? Scientific understanding progresses through feedback between experiments, analysis and models. Now it seems that even in universities they can only contribute in one of the fields, also citizen scientists are only allowed to participate in one field. Can we change this?

Open questions for a science of CSS: are the best projects top-down, bottom-up or co-constructed? what does it depend on? Who will benefit from CCS? Science, companies, contributors, society? How can we maximize learning through research while contributing to CCS? How to do experiments, analyse and model the process of CCS? What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for a scientific field to progress via CCS? What is the optimal division of labor between man & machine? Citizen and professional scientists? Individual and collective intelligence?

Example: Kasparov lost against IBM super computer. Big deal, people were struck, paper realeased titled: if your job involves chess, better find a new job. But now have people playing chess while having a laptop open next to them, so man and machine play together. Kasparov played a game against the rest of the world, playing teenagers online, they catalyze the collective intelligence. Challenged Kasparov that he never wanted to repeat the game. Shows that expert knowledge can be extremely challenged by collective intelligence of crowds.

How can citizens collectively maximize the synergies between citizen cyberscience, open source technologies (e.g. DIY) & empowering knowledge creation environments?

July 14th 2012 meeting in Paris to discuss these plans.

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