ITU researcher secures prestigious fellowship to empower citizen cooperation
Associate Professor of Computer Science at the IT University of Copenhagen, Luca Maria Aiello, has won the Carlsberg Foundation’s prestigious Young Researcher Fellowship for a project that aims to facilitate citizen coordination in the face of global challenges such as climate change.
Associate Professor of Computer Science at the IT University of Copenhagen, Luca Maria Aiello, has won the Young Researcher Fellowship from the Carlsberg Foundation. With the honour comes upwards of 5 million DKK for a research project in large scale cooperation technology. The project’s ultimate goal is to provide a blueprint for online participatory platforms that empower users to find common ground solutions to major problems that can only be addressed by mass action, such as global pandemics and rapid climate change.
“It is a great honour to receive the recognition from the Carlsberg Foundation. I am happy to see that there is a willingness to support research aimed at finding solutions to the major challenges that we will be facing in the coming decades,” says Luca Maria Aiello, who credits his research group at ITU, NEtwoRks, Data, and Society (NERDS), for a great part of the effort in securing the funding for the project.
»Luca Maria Aiello has a background in the private sector and is a newcomer to academia where his previous experience and unconventional approach to computer science has paved the way for his work which straddles the fields of social and data science.
We want to identify the positive dynamics of interactions that are conducive to cooperation in the face of big dilemmas like global climate change. Our end goal is to build guidelines and systems that can support collective deliberation.
Luca Maria Aiello «
Using vast amounts of social media data, the main focus of Luca Maria Aiello’s research project, named COCOONS, is to create guidelines for and build online cooperation systems that can facilitate cooperation rather than spark conflict as it is often the case with social media today, according to the researcher.
“Using computational tools, we can monitor social media interactions on a large scale to understand the positive elements of conversations that drive cooperation. With the guidance of social science theories, we can build machine learning algorithms to extract high-level concepts that characterize the social value of a conversation, such as finding expressions of trust, support, or knowledge transfer,” says Luca Maria Aiello.
“We want to identify the positive dynamics of interactions that are conducive to cooperation in the face of big dilemmas like global climate change. Our end goal is to build guidelines and systems that can support collective deliberation.”
And there is a great need for technological tools that enable people to cooperate in solving large scale problems, according to Luca Maria Aiello. Humanity is facing many challenges: a pandemic, climate change, and mass migration from countries affected by the latter. The greatest problem is that none of these challenges can be solved with conventional top-down enforced solutions:
“Policy makers have failed so far to make the necessary changes to solve the greatest problems humanity faces. We need to find ways that will help people organize in a bottom-up fashion. Grassroot action can in turn drive industries and politics towards radical change,” says Luca Maria Aiello.
The Carlsberg Foundation’s Young Researcher Fellowship is a three-year fellowship awarded newly appointed associate professors with international experience to establish an independent research group, including the acquisition of research infrastructure (equipment, register data, etc.) and the formation of national/international networks.
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