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IEET > Life > Vision > Affiliate Scholar > Melanie Swan

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Crowd Models Become Pervasive Across Society


Melanie Swan
By Melanie Swan
Ethical Technology

Posted: Nov 26, 2012

Crowd-based models are becoming so pervasive that almost no major segment of modern life is left untouched by them. The concept of digital crowd models refers to the coordination of large numbers of individuals (the crowd) through an open call on the Internet in the conduct of some sort of activity.

Not only are crowd models an efficient at-scale alternative to former methods that the Internet now affords, but at another level, crowd models are also a node of progress for humanity, both individually and en masse. An inherent property of crowd models is greater autonomy, decision-making, and action-taking by the individual. This means greater individual agency whilst simultaneously enabling group collaboration projects at previously unimaginable scales, for example, possibly ultimately coordinating and employing the cognitive power of millions of human agents.  

Crowd Models by Sector
  • In economics, there are crowdsourced labor marketplaces where simple tasks and professional services requests can be posted and fulfilled, crowdfunding websites for financing projects, and group purchasing mechanisms. 
  • In politics, crowd models mean the use of big data and social media to organize opinion and action, conduct direct marketing, and affect change. 
  • In the social venue, blogs, social networks, and online dating sites are examples of crowd models. 
  • In entertainment, there are massively multiplayer online games and virtual worlds. In education, vast eLearning networks are populating the landscape. 
  • In health, there are health social networks, digital health collaboration and experimentation communities, crowdscience competitions, and new movements such as the quantified self. 
  • In the legal venue, digital public goods have arisen through crowd contributions such as the Wikipedia, online health databanks, and other data commons resources.

Melanie Swan, MBA, is an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET. Ms. Swan, principal of the MS Futures Group, is a philosopher, science and technology futurist, and options trader.

She has an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, a BA from Georgetown University, and is currently a Contemporary Philosophy graduate student at Kingston University London and Université Paris 8. She is a faculty member at Singularity University and the University of the Commons, an Advisor to the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi), and an invited contributor to the Edge’s Annual Essay Question. Ms. Swan founded the citizen science organization DIYgenomics, which pioneered the crowdsourced health research study, and a future-economics startup company, GroupPurchase, which aggregated small business buying groups.

She was Director of Research at telecommunication consultancy RHK/Ovum, and previously held management and finance positions at iPass in Silicon Valley, J.P. Morgan in New York, Fidelity in Boston, and Arthur Andersen in Los Angeles. Ms. Swan speaks French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Recent publications and research interests include an ethics of perception of nanocognition, the philosophy of big data, the ideology of the biocitizen and the quantified self, the future of personal identity, and the case for cognitive enhancement.  


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