A great analogy can often be the key to innovation, making it possible to transfer knowledge from one domain to another. Now researchers have shown that rather than relying on eureka moments, crowdsourcing and AI can dramatically speed up the search for these parallels.
Examples of analogies leading to major breakthroughs range from Edison’s early work in motion pictures to Kepler’s elucidation of the laws of planetary motion. But being able to strip away superficial differences and understand the underlying similarities between solutions to diverse problems has so far largely relied on individual genius.
That doesn’t need to be the case, though, according to the authors of a recent paper in PNAS. By splitting the task up and leveraging the strengths of both crowdsourcing and AI, they were able to find novel analogies that could help solve a variety of problems in creative ways.