Crowdsourcing has been growing in popularity over the past few years as a way to harness the collective intelligence of large groups of people to solve complex problems or perform tasks that would be difficult or expensive to accomplish with traditional methods. Technology is definitely shaping crowdsourcing. We look at how the emergence of new tech in sectors including artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and the gig economy is likely to shape the future of crowdsourcing in several ways.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing are already being used to automate tasks that were previously done by humans, such as data entry, image recognition, and language translation. As AI continues to improve, it will become more integrated into crowdsourcing platforms, enabling them to better match tasks with the skills of individual workers, detect and prevent fraud, and provide real-time feedback to workers.
Blockchain technology has the potential to improve the transparency and security of crowdsourcing platforms by creating a decentralized and tamper-proof ledger of all transactions. This could help to prevent fraud and ensure that workers are paid fairly for their contributions. Additionally, blockchain could be used to create digital identities for workers, making it easier to verify their qualifications and track their work history.
The Gig Economy
The rise of the gig economy, which is characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts and freelance work, has created a large pool of workers who are looking for flexible and diverse work opportunities. Crowdsourcing platforms are well-positioned to take advantage of this trend by offering a wide range of tasks that can be completed on a freelance basis. In turn, this could help to drive down the cost of labor and make crowdsourcing more accessible to a wider range of businesses.
Let’s look closer at all three types of technology shaping crowdsourcing.
How AI tech is already shaping the future of crowdsourcing
One of the key challenges in crowdsourcing is matching tasks with the skills of individual workers. AI algorithms can help to automate this process by analyzing the skills and past performance of workers and suggesting the best person for the job. For example, the platform Topcoder uses AI to match software development tasks with the most qualified developers.
Ensuring the quality of work done by crowdsourced workers is another important challenge. AI can be used to detect errors or inconsistencies in work, or to compare work to a standard or reference dataset. As an example, the platform Figure Eight uses AI to perform quality control checks on tasks such as image annotation and data categorization.
Crowdsourcing platforms are vulnerable to fraud, such as workers using multiple accounts to complete tasks or submitting incorrect or low-quality work. AI can be used to detect these fraudulent activities by analyzing patterns in worker behavior or using machine learning to identify anomalous activity. Once again as an example, the Figure Eight platform (formerly CrowdFlower) uses AI to detect and prevent fraudulent activity by workers.
Providing real-time feedback to workers can help them to improve their performance and complete tasks more quickly and accurately. AI can be used to provide this feedback automatically, such as by highlighting errors or suggesting improvements. Take the platform Mighty Ai as an example: it uses AI to provide real-time feedback to workers on tasks such as image labeling and data categorization.
How blockchain tech is already shaping the future of crowdsourcing
One of the key benefits of blockchain is that it enables the creation of decentralized platforms that are not controlled by a single entity. This can help to increase transparency, reduce costs, and improve the security of crowdsourcing platforms. Here’s an example of blockchain technology shaping crowdsourcing: the platform Braintrust uses blockchain to create a decentralized talent network where clients can connect with qualified freelancers.
Another benefit of blockchain is that it enables transparent and secure payments that are not subject to intermediaries or middlemen. This can help to reduce transaction costs and ensure that workers are paid fairly for their contributions. The platform LaborX, as an example, uses blockchain to create a decentralized platform for freelancers to find work and get paid in cryptocurrency. Another example, Blocklancer, is dedicated to the Ethereum ecosystem.
One of the challenges of crowdsourcing is verifying the identity and qualifications of workers. Blockchain can be used to create digital identities that are secure and tamper-proof, making it easier to verify the skills and experience of workers. For example, the platform BitGive uses blockchain to create a digital identity system for charity volunteers, making it easier to track their contributions and ensure that donations are used effectively.
Blockchain enables the creation of smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts that automatically execute when certain conditions are met. Smart contracts can be used to automate tasks and reduce the need for intermediaries. As an example, users of WorkAsPro can discuss their needs and confirm them in a digital work contract. The platform also uses different stable crypto coins IDEA tokens for payments. It’s a good example of tech shaping the future of crowdsourcing.
How gig economy technology is shaping the future of crowdsourcing
The gig economy has created a large and diverse workforce of freelancers who are looking for flexible and diverse work opportunities. Crowdsourcing platforms can take advantage of this by offering a wide range of tasks that can be completed on a freelance basis, allowing businesses to tap into a larger pool of talent. For example, the platform Upwork connects businesses with freelancers from around the world who offer a wide range of skills and services. Other platforms that connect businesses with freelance workers are covered in a previous article.
The gig economy is characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts and on-demand work. Crowdsourcing platforms can offer businesses access to this on-demand workforce, allowing them to quickly and easily scale up or down as needed. As an example, the platform Amazon Mechanical Turk allows businesses to post microtasks that can be completed by a large pool of workers on an as-needed basis. A previous article covered microtasking platforms in more depth.
Lower labour costs
The gig economy has created a highly competitive market for labor, driving down the cost of hiring freelancers. This can help businesses to reduce their labor costs and access talent that they might not have been able to afford otherwise. For example, the platform Fiverr allows businesses to find freelancers who offer services starting at just $5.
The gig economy has also enabled remote work, allowing freelancers to work from anywhere in the world. This can help to reduce overhead costs for businesses and enable them to access talent from around the globe. For example, the platform Toptal connects businesses with highly skilled freelancers who work remotely from locations around the world.
These are just a few examples of how AI, blockchain, and the gig economy platforms are technology shaping the future of crowdsourcing. As each of these technologies continues to grow and evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative applications in crowdsourcing. This could include personalized task recommendations and more advanced quality control algorithms; decentralized decision-making and distributed reputation systems; and more specialized marketplaces for freelancers and new platforms that combine crowdsourcing with traditional employment models. What can you see coming?