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Joseph Gordon-Levitt on stage at the AT&T Developer Summit. (GeekWire Photo)

LAS VEGAS — Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the lifelong actor who starred in Inception, 500 Days of Summer, and most recently Snowden, thinks online collaboration can solve some of the biggest challenges facing the world today.

It’s a subject he knows more about than you might think. Gordon-Levitt isn’t just Hollywood’s boy-next-door heartthrob. He’s also the founder of HitRECord, an online platform that encourages artists to collaborate on projects and get compensated for their work. By leveraging the skills of people around the world, Gordon-Levitt says he’s  seen productions come to life that wouldn’t have been possible if they were made any other way.

He believes this model could be scaled and applied to a number of real-world problems. Gordon-Levitt shared his ideas during the AT&T Developers Summit, an event held in Las Vegas at the same time as CES.

Here’s how Gordon-Levitt thinks collaboration could help the struggling news media industry:

I’m really curious how these same principles might be applied in other contexts, other industries, like perhaps in the field of journalism. There’s so many people out there who blog independently about the news and sometimes it feels like just a crowd shouting in an echo chamber. What if they could form productive communities that collaborated on larger feats of substantial investigative journalism?

He believes the philosophy could help shake up education, a field often criticized for being slow to innovate.

A lot of experts agree that our methods of education are in dire need of reinvention. So what if rather than competing against your classmates because you’re all on a curve, students worked on collaborative projects where they all pulled together as a team. And what if your team wasn’t bound by the walls of your classroom but also included an online community of students from around the world.

Perhaps the most radical application he proposed was using online collaboration to write laws and dictate policy.

What about government? That’s an area that’s certainly been on my mind recently. Obviously, the internet should and could be involved in modernizing people’s ability to be truly represented by our democracy. Perhaps a similar process to the one we use to create art could be used to create policy. But if that’s going to work our online culture is going to have to grow up a bit.

Read Gordon-Levitt’s ideas for helping the Internet grow up and foster more creative problem-solving here.

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