Attack Tolerance of Social Mobilization

Lecture / Panel
For NYU Community

Speaker: Manuel Cebrian, UC San Diego


The World Wide Web is commonly seen as a platform that can harness the
collective abilities of large numbers of people to accomplish tasks with
unprecedented speed, accuracy, and scale. To explore the Web's ability for
social mobilization, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
held the 2009 DARPA Network Challenge, and the 2011 DARPA Shredder Challenge.
In the DARPA Network Challenge, competing teams were asked to locate 10 red
weather balloons placed at locations around the continental United States.
In the Shredder Challenge, DARPA asked participants to reconstruct 5 puzzles
of the hardest computational nature. Using a recursive incentive mechanism
that both spread information about the task and incentivized individuals
to act, our team was able to win the first challenge and make significant
progress in the second, while suffering constant attacks. This talk outlines
the theoretical and practical properties of this mechanism, but places
emphasis on the observed adversary capability and intent. The multiplicity
of aggression episodes serves to illustrate the different factors that make
social mobilization vulnerable. As the crowdsourcing market approaches a
real labor market, where strong competition is present, attack tolerance
considerations are of critical importance.


Manuel Cebrian is an Assistant Research Scientist with the Department of
Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego. Before joining UC San Diego,
Manuel was a Fulbright fellow at MIT Media Laboratory. Previously he worked
with the data science teams at Facebook and Telefonica. Manuel earned a Ph.D.
in computer science from the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain.