Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Help Find Jim Gray!

Inquirer reports: Hi-tech search for noted computer scientist missing at sea

I did a quick read of the news article and the keywords Mechanical Turk, Amazon, Wisdom of Crowds popped into my head.

Reminds me of James Surowiecki's account of the disappearance and discovery of the U.S. submarine Scorpion.

Up until 2004, the whole idea of Wisdom of Crowds had been counterintuitive. Then Michael Shermer called it Common Sense.

"When the U.S. submarine Scorpion disappeared in May 1968, a naval scientist named John Craven assembled a diverse group of submarine experts, mathematicians and salvage divers. Instead of putting them in a room to consult one another, he had each of them give a best guesstimate--based on the sub's last known speed and position (and nothing else)--of the cause of its demise and its rate and steepness of descent, among other variables. Craven then computed a group average employing Bayes's theorem, a statistical method wherein a probability is assigned to each component of a problem. The Scorpion's location on the ocean floor was only 220 yards from the averaged prediction."
Dave Pollard upped the ante by describing a framework for tapping the Wisdom of Crowds.

Now I do not know Jim from Adam but I felt something that seemed to move me from discovery of this piece of news to discovery by co-creation (Read: take part in finding him). More about the efforts at Techcrunch. You may also wish to follow Jim Gray search updates here.

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