After viewing TED Talks on crowd-sourcing by Clay Shirky and Luis Von Ahn, I am convinced this method of cooperation is the right way we can begin solving large-scale problems while not having to convince others to completely change themselves or way of life, which is very hard to do even on an individual level, let alone an entire city, county, or country. Von Ahn had found a way to digitize text while also creating a security measure against bots using ReCaptcha while not having to convince the thousands of internet users who come across this feature daily to perform this work for free. That in itself is an amazing system that not only benefits the users by offering security from bots, but also the general public by immortalizing written works on the internet. Perhaps there is a way to address larger problems like global climate change awareness and understanding by having users participate in a system that benefits them in exchange for a few seconds of their time. Shirky reminds us that we spend a massive amount of time already connected to the internet to consume, create, and share unproductive material, why not use such time that is productive and has civic value rather than just communal? Is it possible to design a system similar to ReCaptcha that has users contributing without really being aware to large scale problems? Is this method ethical? Is even the smaller scale ReCaptcha ethical by having users perform work without their consent? Or should it not matter as the end justifies the means for the common good?
Shirky, Clay, How Cognitive Surplus Will Change the World, published by TED@Cannes in June 2010, http://www.ted.com/talks/ clay_shirky_how_cognitive_surplus_will_change_the_world
Von Ahn, Luis, Massive-Scale Online Collaboration, published by TEDxCMU in April 2011, http://www.ted.com/talks/luis_von_ahn_massive_scale_online_collaboration