8 Nov 2013
Chris Lintott, recipient of an OII Internet Award, discusses his two online crowdsourcing projects; Galaxy Zoo and Zooniverse. A professor of Astrophysics and Citizen Science at Oxford, Lintott first recounts the origins of Galaxy Zoo, which grew out of an inability to efficiently classify galaxies. After Galaxy Zoo’s success, scientists from other disciplines contacted Lintott in hopes of using a similar technology to organise their data as well. Lintott relates how in response to this demand, he helped create Zooniverse, a platform to support citizen science more generally. He attributes the success of Galaxy Zoo to its function of facilitating authentic contributions to science rather than simply outsourcing grunt work: about 100 papers have been published with the data amassed so far and committed volunteers can even become co-authors of papers. Lintott finishes by arguing how despite further advances in artificial intelligence, there will most likely remain a narrow area of techniques that humans can perform better than machines, therefore ensuring a solid future for citizen science.