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Exploring New Ways for Humans and Technology to Collaborate: AI, the Brain, and the Crowd



Aniket (Niki) Kittur, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, is at the forefront of exploring crowd-augmented cognition, where humans and technology work together. In a recent interview on the GeekWire Podcast, Kittur discusses how artificial intelligence is changing the field and his research on new methods of augmenting human intellect using crowds and computation. One of his notable projects is Skeema, a browser tab manager developed by Kittur and his colleagues to help users organize their work and projects effectively.

Kittur’s research focuses on helping people make sense of overwhelming information that they encounter online. By combining human strengths with machine capabilities, he aims to enhance decision-making, understanding, and creativity. He studies crowdsourcing movements like Wikipedia and Mechanical Turk to understand how people can work together to achieve more than they could individually. Through the integration of people and machines, Kittur explores innovative ways to leverage collective intelligence.

In collaboration with Toyota, Kittur is working on a project to help automotive designers enhance their creativity by using AI to generate inspirations from diverse fields. For example, by studying how a crow flaps its wings to stabilize flight, designers can apply this principle to improve mobility in various situations. The use of AI unlocks new possibilities that may be challenging for individuals to envision. Kittur’s goal is to foster innovation, problem-solving, and continuous learning through the fusion of human and artificial intelligence.

The Skeema browser tab organizer is a tangible example of Kittur’s vision to connect fragmented information and transform it into knowledge. While Skeema currently serves as an individual tool for organizing browser tabs, the potential lies in linking users who are consolidating information and encouraging collaborative knowledge-building. By building on each other’s insights, individuals can collectively contribute to knowledge sharing and innovation, leading to more effective problem-solving and learning.

Kittur also discusses the concept of large language models (LLMs) and how they can be likened to the human brain’s diverse components. Just as the brain comprises various modules for memory, reasoning, vision, and more, LLMs possess different characteristics that can be integrated to support human objectives. By viewing information processing as a collective problem-solving endeavor, Kittur advocates for harnessing the capabilities of LLMs to enhance human cognition and achieve shared goals. Through ongoing research and collaboration, Kittur aims to advance the field of human-computer interaction and facilitate more effective ways of leveraging technology for cognitive augmentation.

To stay updated on Kittur’s research and other tech-related topics, subscribe to the GeekWire Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred listening platform. The GeekWire team provides insightful discussions and interviews with industry experts, offering valuable insights into the latest innovations, trends, and developments in the world of technology. Join the conversation and explore the possibilities of crowd-augmented cognition, artificial intelligence, and human-computer interaction through engaging content curated by GeekWire.

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