New start-up focuses on online brainstorming and generating insightful solutions

Ken Goldberg, the Faculty Director of the CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative and a professor at UC Berkeley, has started a new company to usher in the next age of brainstorming.

The startup, Hybrid Wisdom, is based on the “Collaborative Discovery Engine”, a scalable way for companies to rapidly generate real-time insight from their customers and employees. To date, the technology has been used by General Motors, Unilever, Humana, and the US State Department, Goldberg said.

To achieve scale and speed, the Collaborative Discovery Engine employs techniques from robotics:  non-linear spatial models that present a broad diversity of ideas and higher-order statistical filtering that rapidly extract the most valuable ideas (the signals) from the noise. According to Goldberg, the idea stems from the fact that most tools companies are using to gain intelligence from social media end up being list-based discussion interfaces that don’t scale well and quickly grow to unmanageable proportions.

“Amazingly, the process of Brainstorming hasn’t really changed since the term was coined in 1953.  Yet everything else has: we’re facing enormous problems in economics, politics, healthcare, and the environment.  We have big data. We have big problems. It’s time to work together to find big solutions,” explained Goldberg.

Based in Sutardja Dai Hall, Goldberg and colleagues are leading the Data and Democracy Initiative, which aims to advance information and communications technologies such as mobile applications and social media that will allow individuals of all backgrounds to enhance their individual and collective awareness, participation, discovery, and decision-making related to critical civic and societal issues.

CITRIS Data and Democracy Initative:

More information:

Launch presentation at Web 2.0: