Covid-19: the rise of a global collective intelligence?

Marc Santolini at the Conversation: “All around the world, scientists and practitioners are relentlessly harnessing data on the pandemic to model its progression, predict the impact of possible interventions and develop solutions to medical equipment shortages, generating open-source data and codes to be reused by others.

Research and innovation is now in a collaborative frenzy just as contagious as the coronavirus. Is this the rise of the famous “collective intelligence” supposed to solve our major global problems?

The rise of a global collective intelligence

The beginning of the epidemic saw “traditional” research considerably accelerate and open its means of production, with journals such as ScienceNature and The Lancet immediately granting public access to publications on the coronavirus and Covid-19.

The academic world is in ebullition. Every day, John Hopkins University updates an open and collaborative stream of data on the epidemic, which have already been reused more than 11,000 times. Research results are published immediately on pre-print servers or laboratory websites. Algorithms and interactive visualizations are flourishing on GitHub; outreach videos on YouTube. The figures are staggering, with nearly 9,000 academic articles published on the subject to date.

More recently, popular initiatives bringing together a variety of actors have emerged outside institutional frameworks, using online platforms. For example, a community of biologists, engineers and developers has emerged on the Just One Giant Lab (JOGL) collaborative platform to develop low-cost, open-source solutions against the virus. This platform, which we developed with Leo Blondel (Harvard University) and Thomas Landrain (La PaillassePILI) over the past three years, is designed as a virtual, open and distributed research institute aimed at developing solutions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) defined by the United Nations. Communities use it to self-organize and provide innovative solutions to urgent problems requiring fundamentally interdisciplinary skills and knowledge. The platform facilitates coordination by linking needs and resources within the community, animating research programs, and organising challenges….(More)”.