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Computer games to combine human and artificial intelligence

Physicist and professor mso, Jacob Friis Sherson, of Aarhus University, receives a Semper Ardens grant of DKK 15M from the Carlsberg Foundation for the project “Beyond citizen science: hybrid intelligence”. By combining human intuition with computer powers, the project will provide new opportunities to shape the artificial intelligence of the future.

What are the limits to artificial intelligence? Are scientists in the field of artificial intelligence adequately incorporating the special human way of solving complex problems into their science? That challenge exactly is what a new Semper Ardens project, “Beyond citizen science: hybrid intelligence”, supported by the Carlsberg Foundation, will address by involving the broad population in the research process. First part of the process is carried out in the forthcoming months, in cooperation with DR, under the name of “Danmarks nye superhjerne” (the new super brain of Denmark).

Go to the DR webpage for “Danmarks nye superhjerne”

Through computer games and the involvement of citizens, researchers will develop a future hybrid intelligence, which combines the evolutionary determined human ability to navigate complex problems with algorithmic powers to process large amounts of data. More specifically, thousands of humans will contribute by solving complex problems in specially designed computer games.

“In the digital world of the future, knowledge will be power. Therefore, it is a problem, that a lot of the knowledge we have today is based on small studies with the participation of people, who do not represent the general population. We will make up for this with large-scale citizen science-studies in our new social science super collider infrastructure”, says Jacob Friis Sherson.

Regarding the grant, the Carlsberg Foundation chairman, Flemming Besenbacher, states:

“The citizen science-approach of Jacob Friis Sherson represents a true Semper Ardens project, which will have a great impact, both methodologically and scientifically within several scientific fields such as psychology, brain research and sociology. At the same time, I am very excited to see the actual use of behavioural data, which will make it possible to create a democratic alternative to the secret algorithms, which control so many of our actions on digital media and give rise to polarisation and fake news”.

Understand the deepest mysteries of humankind

Research shows that gamers’ ability to solve complex challenges is, quality-wise, at the level of the numeric algorithms of the physicists. At the same time, they complement the artificial intelligence by showing a different type of search behavior.

“We think, that modern artificial intelligence can be made better by adding interaction with human intuition. Our brain is complex and, in many ways, better than the computer, but it would lose in a memory-game against a computer. In areas where human interaction matters, still, the computer cannot match us”, says Jacob Friis Sherson. He adds:

“We must understand the strengths of human beings much better. With more knowledge, we can create cooperative systems between humans and computers. To access the deepest mysteries of humankind will demand far more data than what has been accessible so far. In this regard, we think that the citizen science-approach could be the solution”.

Better data control

Today, big tech companies do complex personal analyses of our behavior. They use these to present us with digital services which, on one hand, seem incredibly meaningful and relevant, but on the other hand are composed in a way to maximize company profits. When the companies do not make their insights and algorithms available, a democratic alternative is needed.

“Our answer to this is the citizen science-data collection, which is big enough to provide equivalent insights and which will be made accessible to the public. In the future, this knowledge will be able to protect us against the subtle attempts at manipulation via digital products”, says Jacob Friis Sherson.

You can also read Jacob Friis Sherson´s new article in the Carlsberg Foundation Annual Review, 2018 (in Danish)

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