2 day faculty meeting in Essen

The last 2 day we had a meeting – with all faculty of the ICB – discussing the future challenges of work at universities in the context of our current situation. For me the this time was very well spent as I got to know many of my colleagues better and it was incredible to see the potential (from a scientific perspective as well as looking at the people) we have in our organization.

To me it is always amazing how much of a difference it makes to have a professional external moderator running such workshops (and we were very lucky with Klaus Schneider Ott from focus-team). Even though many of the psychological games are well known to many of us – they still work well and move discussion forward and help in creating common ground and even increase trust. He lectured us (after much of the discussion has happened) on basics of communication (e.g. transactional analysis) and again not novel they lead to serious reflection and progress.
PS: Do you know how to continue the row in the image below? What is the next sign? …
If you think of M-Omega-8 you are wrong – but still it is really easy 😉

Humangrid – are humans easier to program than systems?

In the afternoon I visited humangrid, a startup company in Dortmund. Their basic idea is to create a platform that offers opportunities for crowdsourcing – basically outsourcing small tasks that are easy to perform by humans to a large number of clickworkers. One example for such a scenario is tagging and classification of media. It is interesting that they aim to create a platform that offers real contracts and provides guaranties – which makes it in my eyes more ambitious than Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

One interesting argument is that programming humans (as intelligent processors) to do a certain task that involves intelligence is easier and cheaper than creating software that does this completely automated. Obviously with software there is nearly zero-cost for performing the tasks – after the software is completed, however if the development costs are extremely high paying a small amount to the human processor for each task may still be cheaper. The idea is a bit like creating a prototype using wizard of oz – and not replacing the wizard in the final version.

In our discussion we developed some idea where pervasive computing and mobile technologies can link to the overall concept of the human grid and crowdsourcing creating opportunities for new services that are currently not possible. One of our students will start next month a master thesis on this idea – I am already curious if we get the idea working.