Collective Intelligence

COGS 260, Spring 2021, Friday 9:00am-11:50 am

Prof. Dow

How can people and computers work together intelligently to solve complex problems? Collective intelligence is the study of how individuals coordinate, collaborate, and deliberate to produce outcomes greater than any single agent do can alone. In this course, students will explore different crowdsourcing platforms and mechanisms, read and discuss foundational papers in the field, attend the flagship CHI conference to (virtually) meet contemporary authors, and write a novel research proposal that could lead to publication.

Learning Objectives

Students will learn different definitions, applications, workflows, task designs, and quality mechanisms for collective intelligence. Students will read, discuss, and present key papers in the field (each student will present ~one paper per week).

Students will propose new research in collective intelligence and/or apply crowdsourcing to a novel research problem. Students will write a research proposal for novel systems or studies that implement or evaluate crowdsourcing techniques that could contribute to the literature.

Course Topics

  • Crowdsourcing history and examples

  • Crowd demographics

  • Ethics, labor laws, worker rights

  • Task/workflow design

  • Creative crowds, design processes

  • Learner-sourcing, community-sourcing, gamer-sourcing

  • Collective intelligence, crowd sensemaking

  • Citizen science, crisis informatics

  • Crowd-powered applications

  • Crowds and machine learning

  • Quality mechanisms

Course Origins

This course draws on reading lists and syllabi from prior crowd course. The most direct inspiration comes from a seminar course I led at Stanford University in winter 2011, and a similar course taught at Berkeley by Bjoern Hartmann. The course also borrows from Jeffrey Bigham's course on Crowd Programming, Walter Lasecki's course on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing Systems, and Haoqi Zhang's course on Social and Crowd Computing, and Kurt Luther's seminar on Crowdsourcing and Human Computation.


Steven Dow is an Associate Professor of Cognitive Science at UC San Diego where he researches human-computer interaction, social computing, and creativity. Steven was co-chair of the 2017 conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing. Steven received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2015 for research on "advancing collective innovation." He was co-PI on five other National Science Foundation grants, a Google Faculty Grant, Stanford's Postdoctoral Research Award, and the Hasso Plattner Design Thinking Research Grant. Before UCSD, Steven was an Assistant Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. He holds an MS and PhD in Human-Centered Computing from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a BS in Industrial Engineering from University of Iowa.