This talk explores two questions: How is social media changing the way social networks solve complex tasks? And what are the physical and cognitive limits of these networks?

I will describe a number of real-world experiments on mobilizing very large numbers of people via social media to achieve complex tasks, from finding balloons tethered at random locations all over a continent in under 9 hours, to locating individuals in remote cities in under 12 hours using only their mug shots, to reconstructing shredded documents with the help of hundreds of volunteers.

I will also discuss how things can go wrong, from deliberate misinformation and sabotage, to cognitive biases that may impede the collective intelligence of networks.


Research Programmes