Time-Critical Social Mobilization: from the DARPA Red Balloon Challenge to the Nightmare Machine

31 May

Manuel Cebrian, Principal Research Scientist, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Melbourne, Australia

External Presentation (External Speaker)

This seminar explores the physical, behavioral, and computational limits of crowd-assembly for problem-solving. I follow a number of real-world experiments where we utilized social media to mobilize the masses in tasks considered impossible by conventional intelligence. From finding red weather balloons, to locating thieves in distant cities, to reconstructing shredded classified documents, to inducing fear in humans via game-powered deep learning, the potential of crowdsourcing is real, but so are exploitation, sabotage, and hidden biases that undermine the power of crowds.

About Manuel Cebrian

Manuel Cebrian is principal research scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Melbourne, Australia, where he directs the Human Dynamics group; and a founding member of Scalable Cooperation, an MIT Media Lab research group in Cambridge, USA. His primary interest is understanding how social networking can make it easier to find people and solve real-world problems. Cebrian’s work has appeared in Science, Nature Communications, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, and has also featured in major media outlets, such as The New York Times, The Economist, Scientific American, and the Washington Post.

Personal sites:

This event will be conducted in English


  • Location: Sala 1.1/2 IMDEA Networks Institute, Avda. del Mar Mediterráneo 22, 28918 Leganés – Madrid

  • Organization: NETCOM Research Group (Telematics Engineering Department, UC3M); IMDEA Networks Institute
  • Time: 14:00 pm
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