Social Machines Oxford Hendler


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This is a vision talk, looking at what is happening on the Web with large scale community interactions. It discusses ongoing efforts, Chinese Human Flesh Search Engine, and a research agenda for "Social Machines" based on these emerging challenges.

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  • We learn new things from the Web almost every day – the amount of data available on the Web is stunning – this slide from Google shows how a set of queries relating to flu track the CDC data on flu outbreaks – imagein what we could do by harnessing this information and think about the challenges it poses to use as WEB ENGINEERS?
  • One new thing happening in Science, emphasized by a project such as Galaxy zoo, is using many many non-scientiststs help scientists solve hard and important projects – there is a huge opportunity for new technologies that can help us manage the scientific, engineering and even social problems facing our world. It is a huge area for new tools and technologies to be deployed.
  • Social Machines Oxford Hendler

    1. 1. We are the Web The Rise of the Social Machine Jim Hendler Tetherless World Professor of Computer and Cognitive Science Assistant Dean of Information Technology and Web Science Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute @jahendler (twitter)
    2. 2. What is a social machine? Real life is and must be full of all kinds of social constraint – the very processes from which society arises. Computers can help if we use them to create abstract social machines on the Web: processes in which the people do the creative work and the machine does the administration … The stage is set for an evolutionary growth of new social engines.. Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web , 1999
    3. 3. Some early social machines
    4. 4. “ Productive” Social Machines <ul><li>It is estimated that 21% of the world’s population uses the World Wide Web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>And this number is growing as cell phones and mobile Web technologies become increasingly usable as primary browser platforms </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Modern Web sites can handle huge amounts of human time and effort </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cf. Facebook reports 4,000,000,000 minutes are spent on the site every day (> 7500 person/years per day!) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Note: IBM < 7500 person/years per year… </li></ul></ul></ul>Can we create technologies that make it possible to harness portions of that time and effort to help solve real-world problems?
    5. 5. A vision <ul><li>Imagine </li></ul><ul><li>Hundreds of millions of people </li></ul><ul><li>Effectively able to network together </li></ul><ul><li>Working with the data archives of science, govts, NGOs, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Working together on the Web </li></ul><ul><li>to cure disease, </li></ul><ul><li>to feed the hungry, and to empower the powerless… </li></ul>Is this Science Fiction?
    6. 6. Idea 1, do this by accident Being explored, but how do we make this purposeful?
    7. 7. Harnessing this power “unknowlingly” You have likely helped to make Optical Character Recognition better! Von Ahn et al, 08
    8. 8. Harnessing the power for “fun” Von Ahn, 06
    9. 9. Harnessing human knowledge for problem solving Raddick et al, 07
    10. 10. Hanny’s Voorwerp (A digression or maybe the whole point)
    11. 11. Exploring motivation: Online meets offline in an “ad hoc” organization Better translation: People-Powered Search
    12. 12. Very Misunderstood in the US media Oct 2008 Mar 2010
    13. 13. HFS over time
    14. 14. What HFS is used for
    15. 15. Types of online/offline
    16. 16. HFS not motivated by funds (as rumor has it) Financial reward only used in <3% of cases So what is the incentive?
    17. 17. Appears that HFS is different from other Web 2.0 networks
    18. 18. We see that Social Challenges include <ul><li>Keys to understanding on-line communities include </li></ul><ul><ul><li>dynamics of online communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Incentives unclear </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Information flows between online and offline are largely unstudied </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We can no longer assume an expert -> novice continuum, but what replaces it? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trust (and distrust) on Web-based communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Goal is to share information, not hide it – but how do we prevent abuses? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Governance is a critical factor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>HFS is “self organizing,” which limits its scale </li></ul></ul></ul>
    19. 19. Example: Governance <ul><li>Wikipedia includes a lot of rules and privileged people to adjucate/enforce them </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Study in 2008 (Butler etal, CHI, 08) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>44 policies (now 51) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>248 guidelines (now over 400) </li></ul></ul></ul>
    20. 20. Sound familiar? How do you prevent people from ruining articles? (Defacement or vandalism) Software robots automatically reverse obvious defacement immediately. Moreover, there are hundreds of people who spend a little time each day watching the list of recent changes on Wikipedia (see Wikipedia:Recent changes patrol)... (Wikipedia FAQ, 2010) social machine definition: … processes in which the people do the creative work and the machine does the administration…
    21. 21. We see that Technical Challenges include <ul><li>Heavy programming burden </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Costs a lot to build/support a non ad hoc platform </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Compare wikipedia to HFS </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Designing a successful GWAP still a black art </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>And a large programming challenge </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How can we create tools that a community can use by itself? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>80% solution for everyone >> 99% for some </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Underlying models </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How do we define Social Machines more rigorously ? </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. “ Semantic” Information Theory (w/J. Bao, P. Basu)
    23. 23. Weaver’s View on Communication - 1949 <ul><li>LEVEL A (Technical). How accurately can the symbols of communication be transmitted ? </li></ul><ul><li>LEVEL B (Semantic). How precisely do the transmitted symbols convey the desired meaning? </li></ul><ul><li>LEVEL C (Effectiveness). How effectively does the received meaning affect conduct in the desired way? </li></ul>Warren Weaver (1949), Recent Contributions to The Mathematical Theory of Communication
    24. 24. Extending Weaver’s model Weaver’s model (1949)
    25. 25. Formalize social machines based on a communication network model Weaver’s model revisited
    26. 26. Who else can contribute to Social Machine work? <ul><li>Analysis and Theory </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering and Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Social Science and Communications </li></ul><ul><li>Economics and law </li></ul><ul><li>… </li></ul>
    27. 27. Related Technical work
    28. 28. Summary <ul><li>We are on the cusp of a new technology to create Web-based systems that will transform society by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating new systems that allow large numbers of users to interact  over the Web to collectively solve problems. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating and disseminating new Web application development technologies aimed at letting communities build and run their own social machines </li></ul></ul><ul><li>There are some important examples out there </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But there’s a lot of important science to be done </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This is a truly interdisciplinary challenge in which computing, social science, informatics and communications work is all required </li></ul>
    29. 29. “ We are the Web” <ul><li>Imagine </li></ul><ul><li>Hundreds of millions of people </li></ul><ul><li>Effectively able to network together </li></ul><ul><li>Working with the data archives of science, govts, NGOs, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Working together on the Web </li></ul><ul><li>to cure disease </li></ul><ul><li>to feed the hungry, and to empower the powerless… </li></ul>It’s not science fiction, let’s make it real!