“Wicked problems are those for which no single computational formulation of the problem is sufficient, for which different stakeholders do not even agree on what the problem really is, and for which there are no right or wrong answers, only answers that are better or worse from different points of view,” explains Thomas Malone, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and founder of the Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI).
The intractability of the wicked problem is what first inspired Malone to dream up the Climate CoLab. Global climate change is a perfect example of the wicked problem. There is a deadlock of perspectives on how to address climate change, how severe it is, and whether it is even real. People with different political and economic viewpoints will answer these questions differently. Malone imagined a tool that would be able to represent these mutually contentious perspectives but guide them towards solving problems and generating strategies for addressing climate change.