ICT for Sustainability - The Challenge of Making It Real

Robert Laubacher

Friday, February 15


Harnessing Collective Intelligence to Address Climate Change: The Climate CoLab

The Climate CoLab, a project of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, seeks to apply the crowdsourcing approach used in systems like open source software and Wikipedia to develop, and gain support for, creative new ideas to address climate change.

Anyone in the world can participate. The Climate CoLab community now includes more than 4000 students and concerned citizens, along with nearly 100 experts who guide its activities.

For 2012-13, the CoLab has broken down the large, complex problem of climate change into a series of more manageable sub-problems. Participants will be invited to submit their ideas in contests that focus on topics like building efficiency, decarbonization of energy supply, and adaptation. A combination of expert judges and wisdom of the crowd will select the best ideas, and contest winners will then present their work to leaders in government, business, and civil society.

In a subsequent round of activity, the Climate CoLab will invite integrated proposals that combine the best ideas from the various sub-domains.

If it achieves its loftiest ambitions, the Climate CoLab will engage scientists, policy makers, executives, and citizens and lead to adoption of more effective strategies to address climate change than would have emerged otherwise.




Robert Laubacher is Research Scientist and Associate Director at MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence. His work there examines how the Internet is enabling new forms of large-scale, globally-distributed collaboration.

Mr. Laubacher has published in Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, the Financial Times, and many academic venues. He co-edited Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century (MIT Press, 2003), a volume based on a multi-year research project at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

During his time at MIT, Mr. Laubacher has worked as a consultant to global corporations, start-up firms, and the organization practice of McKinsey & Company. He also served as executive producer of two independent feature films, American Wake (2004) and Home Before Dark (1997), which won the grand jury prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival, and was author of Lens on the Bay State (2006), a study of film production in Massachusetts.



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