A Popperian Platform for
Programming and Teaching the Global Brain
Karl Lieberherr, College of Computer and Information Science,
PRL, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts.
In a recent article in the Communications of the ACM (May 2012)
on Programming the Global Brain, Bernstein et al.
make the point that developers of global brain systems
need to be societal engineers coordinating societies
of many diverse workers.
Bederson et al. (2011) address the "remote person call" issue
of global brain systems which is about exploitation and
Over the last five years we have been experimenting with the
Scientific Community Game (SCG) that tries to foster
innovation in technological domains through good societal engineering but also learning
so that workers benefit from
the interaction with requesters and other workers (reducing exploitation, workers become both students and teachers).
In the terminology of Bernstein et al., SCG is
a constraint-based programming platform parameterized
by playgrounds that define the detailed constraints
for a domain.
In the SCG we
build knowledge bases of claims that are defended
by members of the community against attackers.
We use a critical rationalism (= Popperian) approach
where each claim
is disputable. The refutation protocol, in its simplest
form, is: If you produce an x in X and I produce a y in Y,
property p(x,y) holds.
The successful defenders of claims have good technological know-how
(for the given playground and relative to the quality of the
other workers). It is this technological know-how which is of
interest to the requesters and it is transfered to them
as software or heuristic descriptions or by hiring the successful workers.
I will introduce the rules of SCG,
its playgrounds that are inhabited by
workers or avatars ( produced by workers).
Interesting specializations of SCG are the Quantifier Game from
logic but also the Renaissance Game from the 16th century.
I will report on our successes and failures to create games
that produce innovations and learning (I have written a playground designer's guide
that helps designers to be good societal engineers).
Our most successful instantiation of the Scientific Community Game was through the learning tool piazza.com
in an Algorithms class with 35 undergraduates.
I have also used SCG successfully to gamify software development
for optimization tasks.
Supported by Novartis. Joint work with Ahmed Abdelmeged.
Short Speaker Bio
started his career at the Kantonsschule St. Gallen,
got his PhD at ETH Zurich, taught at Princeton,
was a visiting scientist at MIT and is
a professor at the College of Computer and Information Science
at Northeastern University. One of his current
research interests are platforms for crowd sourcing where quality control
is done by refutation.