Human Computation: A Manifesto

  • Pietro MichelucciEmail author


Today humans face many challenges as a species, including some that pose grave risks. Technology has been a significant contributor to these risks, but it may also lead to solutions. In the first part of this chapter, we consider how Human Computation (HC), the study of humans as computational elements in a purposeful system, has already been helpful in solving problems. We further consider why HC may be instrumental for mitigating future risks. In the second part of this chapter, we examine the maturity of human computation as both a practice and a discipline. This analysis informs a proposal for technical maturation as well as a formal definition of the field and its distinguishing qualities, all in service of accelerating research and ensuring responsible use of any resultant capabilities. Though the ideas in this chapter may be informed by engagement with the HC community, this manifesto represents a personal perspective.


Interdisciplinary Program Artificial Brain Human Participation Highly Enrich Uranium External Combustion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author would like to express his enduring gratitude to each of the 117 contributors to this volume, who are collectively catalyzing the emergence of human computation as a discipline. The author also wishes to gratefully acknowledge useful feedback from Mary Catherine Bateson, Kevin Crowston, Kshanti Greene, Antonio Sanfilippo, and Michael Witbrock.


  1. Breiman RF (1996) Impact of technology on the emergence of infectious diseases. Epidemiol Rev 18(1):4–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bunn M, Maslin EP (2011) All stocks of weapons-usable nuclear materials worldwide must be protected against global terrorist threats. J Nucl Mater Manage 39(2):21–27Google Scholar
  3. Friedman TL (1999) The Lexus and the olive tree/by Thomas L Friedman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Horrock N (2001) FBI focusing on portable nuke threat. UPI. Retrieved 29 June 2013, from
  5. IAEA (2007) IAEA information system on illicit trafficking and other unauthorized activities involving nuclear and radioactive materials. International atomic energy agency. Retrieved from
  6. Joy B (2000) Why the future doesn’t need us. Wired. 8(4). Retrieved from
  7. Joy B (2006) Bill Joy: what I’m worried about, what I’m excited about. [Video file]. Retrieved from
  8. Keen P (1980) MIS research: reference disciplines and cumulative tradition. In: Proceedings of the first international conference on information systems, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA pp 9–18Google Scholar
  9. Knutson TR, McBride JL, Chan J, Emanuel K, Holland G, Landsea C, … Sugi M (2010) Tropical cyclones and climate change. Nat Geosci 3(3):157–163. doi: 10.1038/ngeo779
  10. Kurzweil R (2001) Raymond Kurzweil: question and answers. Presented at the are we becoming an endangered species? Technology and ethics in the twenty first century, Washington National Cathedral. Washington, DC, USA. Retrieved from
  11. Kurzweil R (2006) The singularity is near: when humans transcend biology. Penguin, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Liles DH, Johnson ME, Meade L (1996) The enterprise engineering discipline. In: Proceedings of the fifth annual industrial engineering research conferenceGoogle Scholar
  13. Raymond ES (1997) The cathedral and the bazaar. Retrieved from
  14. Renn O, Klinke A (2004) Systemic risks: a new challenge for risk management. EMBO Rep 5(Suppl 1):S41–S46. doi: 10.1038/sj.embor.7400227 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Sanfilippo A, Riensche R, Haack J, Butner S (2013) Psychosocial and cultural modeling in human computation systems: a gamification approach. In: Michelucci P (ed) The handbook of human computation. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Silvert W (2002) A bifurcation model of speciation due to environmental change. In: Proceedings of first workshop on information technologies application to problems of biodiversity and dynamics of ecosystems in North Eurasia - WITA’2001. Novosibirsk, Russia. Retrieved from
  17. Solomon S, Plattner G-K, Knutti R, Friedlingstein P (2009) Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions. Proc Natl Acad Sci 106:1704–1709. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812721106 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Woolf AF (2010) Non-strategic nuclear weapons. DIANE Publishing, Darby, Pennsylvania, USAGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ThinkSplash LLCFairfaxUSA

Personalised recommendations