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Visualizing One Earth

Future Is Here speaker Albert Lin is an expert in merging remote exploration with crowdsourced citizen science and emergent collective reasoning. He is part of a project to create a portrait of humanity that will be sent into outer space.


Conversation Club

  1. Albert Lin describes how he gets people involved in his research projects on massive scales so that together they can tackle big challenges. This process is called “crowdsourcing.” Are you familiar with that term? Can you think of examples of crowdsourcing?
  2. Lin talks about the new “human-computer interface.” What do you think he means? In what ways have computers or other new technologies changed how you gather information or how you perform daily tasks?
  3. Lin describes one project he organized that involved millions of people looking at satellite imagery in order to help him locate the tomb of Genghis Khan in Mongolia. He gives a second example where 8 million volunteers followed the same process in an attempt to find the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. Would you volunteer your time for a project like these? Why do you think others chose to do so?
  4. What do you think of the idea of remote exploration? Can you think of other examples where technology allows for exploration in ways that would not be possible without it?
  5. Lin talks about another collaborative project to create a new Golden Record, a portrait of humanity to send into outer space. As part of that project, he invited people to submit one word that they felt best described humankind. What word would you choose to describe humankind? Why did you choose that word?
  6. Following from the question above, if you could choose a particular picture or a particular sound to represent life on Earth, what would you choose and why?
  7. Had you heard of the first Golden Record, which was launched into space with the Voyager spacecraft in 1977? What do you think could be included in this second iteration that would best represent the advances since that first Golden Record was launched?
  8. When crowdsourcing ideas for the new Golden Record, Lin describes the process as democratic, but he also acknowledges the challenge of making it a global effort since it is technology-dependent. In what ways has technology opened up new opportunities for global participation? In what ways has technology been a barrier?

Video Series

This video exists as part of a series gathered around the theme of Environment & STEM. Other videos in this series are listed below.

Can Ocean Optimism Save our Seas?
Can Ocean Optimism Save our Seas?
What is the Future of Nature?
What is the Future of Nature?
Hugh Herr’s Bionic Future
Hugh Herr’s Bionic Future
Why Scan a 3-D Dinosaur?
Why Scan a 3-D Dinosaur?
Pardis Sabeti's New Look at Infectious Disease
Pardis Sabeti's New Look at Infectious Disease
Visualizing One Earth
Visualizing One Earth
Best Views of the Grand Canyon
Best Views of the Grand Canyon
Can We Solve Climate Change?
Can We Solve Climate Change?
Jack Andraka's Pancreatic Cancer Breakthrough
Jack Andraka's Pancreatic Cancer Breakthrough