I do more than just write about crowdsourcing; I happen to think a lot about it as well. And, specifically, I think a lot about the future of crowdsourcing. Here are my top 3 bets on where crowdsourcing will take us and where we will take it in the next 5-7 years.
1. Real-time crowdsourcing will be the norm.
When you currently request tasks on Mturk, or ask a question on social-search engines like Jig.com or Quora, you can get results within minutes, but it is more often that you get them within a few hours or days.
But, in the near future, we will have a few tools (that we don't have today) that will encourage faster response times:
- Different UIâ€™s involving live video feeds
- More complex, sophisticated, and intelligent online work environments
- A larger crowd of readily accessible talent (that will result from the growing popularity of crowdsourcing)
With these elements in place, you will start to see crowdsourcing (microtasking & social-search especially) become a real-time activity where work is done at the rate of an in-person conversation...
My confidence of this change also comes from my belief that we as humans are by nature fickle, distracted, and incredulous (at least when it comes to how we spend our time and attention).
That means, to really see benefit in something like a new work process, we're going to need to see it in real time (or people will stop caring).
Moreover, as the crowdsourcing 'crowd' increases: billions of new minds will come online in the next few years, and the ability to tap the right skill at exactly the right moment will only grow (especially with the development of better databases to route tasks ).
2. New tools like precision internet controlled robotic arms, augmented reality glasses, and telepresence robots will take online work out of the digital and into the physical world.
Simply stated, being able to control robots via an internet connection will make them into an extension of ourselves.
I don't know why people are waiting around for a revolution in artificial intelligence when for a few dollars a day (or possibly for free), someone will control a simple robot for you to do anything you like with (real-live) human intelligence?
Companies like Alice Vision are on their way there, and sites like Mturk and Sparked.com are proving that the motivation is there to do the work. What are we waiting for? Probably just someone to make the connection and start building...
3. Computation will be the main unit of currency in crowdsourced projects. (Attn: This prediction largely borrowed from the futurists at HIVE45.)
If you look at sites like Coffee and Power, you will see that people aren't only trading work for money; they are trading work for work.
Once microtasking becomes a norm in the labor market, I think people will be more interested in doing work in exchange for the work of another person with a different expertise.
This concept will have more weight also as we move away from a scarcity based economy to an ideas based economy.
In an ideas based economy, the highest value will be for someone to add-to & process our ideas, and the number one commodity will be someone's time, attention, and thoughts (i.e., thier computational capability).
This truth is only beginning as ideas are traded and monetized more freely through crowdfunding and open innovation platforms like Quirky, InnoCentive, and the X-Prize, etc.
Why am I not crazy?
It's because you could theoretically prove some of this right now. Here's what you would need:
- A pair of google glasses,
- a kinect sensor,
- a few robotic arms,
- a team of web developers & programmers,
- and the staff from the (now closed) Vark.com &
- Oh, and a publicist...
With these tools, I can guarantee you, you would be the worlds most efficient / knowledgeable person before the end of the year. Shout out to these crowdsourcing experts on Twitter if you need any further help with wielding your concoction above.
If you think I'm nuts, or if you think there's some real potential behind what I'm predicting, please let me know in the comments below...