In a future characterized by algorithms with ever increasing computational power, it becomes essential to understand the difference between human and machine intelligence. This will enable the development of hybrid-intelligence interfaces that optimally exploit the best of both worlds. By making complex research challenges available for contribution by the general public, citizen science does exactly this.
Researchers developed a versatile remote gaming interface that allowed external experts as well as hundreds of citizen scientists all over the world through multiplayer collaboration and in real time to optimize a quantum gas experiment in a lab at Aarhus University. Surprisingly, both teams quickly used the interface to dramatically improve upon the previous best solutions established after months of careful experimental optimization.
But why could players without any formal training in experimental physics manage to find surprisingly good solutions? One hint came from an interview with a top-player, a retired Italian microwave systems engineer. He said, that for him participating in the experiment reminded him a lot of his previous job as an engineer. He never attained a detailed understanding of microwave systems but instead spent years developing an intuition of how to optimize the performance of his “black-box.” In this view, the players may be performing better not because they have superior skills, but because the interface they are using makes another kind of exploration “the obvious thing to try out” compared to the traditional experimental control interface.
“The process of developing (fun) interfaces that allow experts and citizen scientists alike to view the complex research problems from different angles, may contain the key to developing future hybrid intelligence systems in which we make optimal use of human creativity” explained Jacob Sherson. (1)
These have collectively produced more science than any combination of analysis, data gathering, careful structured thought ever have during the history of mankind. Feyerabend said that the scientific method has nothing to do with what we think it has. He was right and yet, scientists think he was wrong. Because scientists today like to be called scientists. And whoever likes to impose himself is never himself…
Look at Newton.
They weren’t scientists because they said so.
But because others acknowledged them as such.
Solving problems has never solved any problem.
The key to progress is not progress per se.
The key to science is not making science.
Look at this equation. But don’t try to find a solution. Try thinking of another equation instead. And then another. And then another. Until you have nowhere else to go. Until A equals A. And then wonder.
Was there anything to solve in the first place?