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This week’s best questions, ideas and debates from TED Conversations

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TED-Conversation-generic-imageTED Conversations is a unique space where any member of this community can get feedback on an idea, pose an interesting question, or start a fascinating debate with fellow TEDizens from around the globe. This week, dozens of new conversations were started — from “Should we have an opinion about everything?” to “Teaching robotic fundamentals with recycled electronic products.” Here, a sampling of the highlights from this week.

From Mindshare in London, Nik Gill poses a challenging question: Can first world countries spend their overseas aid budgets more effectively?

On March 20th, 2013, Great Britain’s government firmly backed a legislation that would ensure that 0.7% (~£11 Billion) of Gross National Income will be spent on Overseas Aid.

With many skeptics feeling that this money is often wasted or better spent in more important areas, how would you like to see this money spent to change the perception that International Aid isn’t effective?

Bernie Fischer responds:

This conversation is very close to my heart… As an individual who comes form a ‘3rd’ world country I have seen the amazing benefits that come from foreign aid. However the problem that I see developing is that there is no transparency for individuals from where the aid is originating. Governments offer this aid, but the individuals that work and supply the money through trade etc do not necessarily understand how and where the aid is being offered. It creates a repetitive cycle of why give when I don’t see benefits. Pledging is one thing… how do we know that we are doing any good?

To which Nik responds:

The fact that the givers do not see the visibility of the goodness they are creating and in turn the beneficiaries of aid do not understand where it has comes from is an interesting one.

Do you think we can easily bridge this connection?

With two days remaining, there’s time to add your thoughts to the exchange »  

Meanwhile, TEDx Organizer Amy Robinson asks, How might gaming and crowd-sourcing change the future of science?

Jane McGonigal recently said that people spend about 3 billion hours each week playing online games. A small but growing fraction of this time comes from citizen scientists, people with little or no scientific background who contribute to real research by playing games. Over 1 million people worldwide participate in projects ranging from protein folding (FoldIt) to wildlife species counts (SnapSerengeti from Zooniverse); they identify new objects in space (NASA) and categorize classical works of music (What’s the Score from Zooniverse/Oxford). A wave of new projects are changing how the scientific method happens as we know it.

Do you think gaming in science will transform how discoveries are made? Why or why not? What do you think of this approach?

How could we help researchers embrace the idea of crowd-sourcing research? What could scientists learn from the gaming industry?

Finally, are you a citizen scientist? What do you play? Why do you play it?

Conversations Host Fritzie Reisner responds:

This reminds me at first glance of how universities have long offered students and community the opportunity to be subjects in faculty research through study pools where people can sign up to participate in experiments in behavioral science or health. I can see that the analysis of data from online gaming and other online behaviors might be seen as a natural expansion of that.

Another commenter, Don Anderson, shares his thoughts on the topic:

I’m both impressed and disappointed by the current selection of crowd-source-games.

The reasons for being impressed in clear, so I’ll say where I hope for improvement.

*unlike computers, humans are great at transcribing old documents and yet I don’t see it in gaming. We have world-search gaming apps, why not transcription-gaming apps.

*MMORPGs often have mini-games in them and think crowd-sourcing-science games would be great for them.

*The gaming industry employs all types of employee, artist, programmers, actors, script writers, orchestras, conductors, etc. to improve the gaming experience. So I think they would love and pay to work with scientist to add the feeling of being productive and part of something bigger as part of the experience.

*for my android apps search I would love to see “citizen-scientist games” as a category.

Three days are left in the conversation, so there’s still time to contribute your thoughts»

Intrigued?  Check out more ideas, questions, and debates over on TED Conversations»