How is crowdsourcing changing our lives?

Crowdsourcing has had a profound impact on businesses. Many large companies, as well as start-ups and small businesses, have introduced different ways to incorporate crowdsourcing into what they do. But how is crowdsourcing changing our everyday lives?

Medicine

In the past, doctors attempting to diagnose a rare disease would have to refer patients to numerous specialists for multiple tests. It was a long, arduous process. In fact, on average it takes more than seven years to properly diagnose a rare disease because healthcare providers aren’t equipped with enough information and expertise to make a proper diagnosis immediately, according to Nicole Boice, CEO and founder of Global Genes.

This is why she thinks that medical crowdsourcing, where doctors post a question on a forum and get answers from multiple specialists straight away, could have a significant impact on the diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases. “The more great minds we have to tackle the problem the better chance we have of finding the solution,” she said. “Over the last few years crowdsourcing has changed business and fundraising models. In regards to healthcare, it truly is the power of varied expertise coming together to help tackle some of the greatest challenges.”

Dr Teri Willochell added: “Patients will have the advantage of the collective knowledge of hundreds of thousands of physicians worldwide to help with their diagnosis and treatment. All in a short period of time, all at no cost to them.”

Subtitles

The way that deaf people experience the world could be set to change, thanks to a new online system that will crowdsource captions for live events. Professional stenographers provide real-time captions, but are expensive and can’t be hired last minute or for short sessions and automatic speech recognition systems tend to have high error rates. To combat this, a team from the University of Rochester, New York, turned to non-expert workers who can be hired on-demand and for much lower cost.

Using an app called Scribe, users connect to a central server and recruit workers – studies show that a willing group can be assembled within seconds. Each worker listens to a live audio stream from the user’s phone and attempts to write subtitles as quickly as possible. Different workers will have certain sections played louder to encourage them to focus on transcribing a particular part, but the subtitles shown on the users screen will be based on the words that a majority of workers have typed.

Tabitha Allum, CEO of UK charity Stagetext, says that this crowdsourcing could help meet an increasing need for captions. “As our population gets older and people become more deaf, the demand for accessible talks and lectures is only going to get bigger,” she says.

Matchmaking

Matchmaking apps have boomed in the last few years. Couples are finding and meeting each other in new ways and now you can even get your friends to crowdsource your next date.

Spritzr is a mobile app that allows you to suggest acquaintances to your friends as a potential match. Then your friend can decide whether they are interested and make the next move, by swiping left or right. But, it’s not just acquaintances that you can choose to suggest to your friends, you can also view abbreviated versions of strangers’ profiles and suggest them to your friends – if at least two other people suggest the same profile then it will show up for your friend in the same way as a friend suggestion.

“The human eye is a better matchmaker than an algorithm,” Spritzr’s founder Manshu Agarwal said. “Even if somebody doesn’t know you, they can still pick off things about you. If there’s enough people that think the same thing, they there’s a good chance that it’s going to be high quality.”

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