Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pretty Neat

Scientists in Washington have announced that the use of an online video game has advanced the science behind anti-AIDS drugs.  The game, Foldit, encouraged game players to find the best way to fold proteins in a virus, and scientists have been able to use the solutions to the puzzles to increase their understanding of the structure and work of viruses.

Crowd-sourcing research is nothing new.  The BOINC focuses on bio-medical and mathematical research.  Basically, a problem is broken down into small bits, and PC's around the world spend their idle time going through the data and sort the wheat from the chaff to allow for more efficient use of dedicated computing resources.

But this is the first time I've heard of actual human interaction being used to do something like this.  Imagine the uses.  It could be used to find solutions to problems that are now done primarily by experts in their field.  Need a new human-usable traffic plan for your city?  Create a driving game that gives points for getting from point A to point B quickest without driving on the sidewalk.  Need to find and bomb the living crap out of some countries nuclear weapons program?  Create a video game that gets hundreds of thousands of people to go through every possible way to do it until you find the best way.  Bonus points if you give the players realistic simulations of military and intelligence units to fight with.

Hopefully, this method is used again.  I might give up my personal moratorium on playing video games to contribute.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Why not, and if it involves guns, I'm in.

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