I'm Touring The United States! Starting in June, I'm conducting private events in 23 American cities. Click here for full details.

Post Reply 
How online gamers are solving science's biggest problems
Author Message
infowarrior1 Online
Ostrich
****

Posts: 1,780
Joined: Jan 2014
Reputation: 10
Post: #1
How online gamers are solving science's biggest problems
''For all their virtual accomplishments, gamers aren't feted for their real-world usefulness. But that perception might be about to change, thanks to a new wave of games that let players with little or no scientific knowledge tackle some of science's biggest problems. And gamers are already proving their worth.

In 2011, people playing Foldit, an online puzzle game about protein folding, resolved the structure of an enzyme that causes an Aids-like disease in monkeys. Researchers had been working on the problem for 13 years. The gamers solved it in three weeks.

A year later, people playing an astronomy game called Planet Hunters found a curious planet with four stars in its system, and to date, they've discovered 40 planets that could potentially support life, all of which had been previously missed by professional astronomers.

On paper, gamers and scientists make a bizarre union. But in reality, their two worlds aren't leagues apart: both involve solving problems within a given set of rules. Genetic analysis, for instance, is about finding sequences and patterns among seemingly random clusters of data. Frame the analysis as a pattern-spotting game that looks like Candy Crush, and, while aligning patterns and scoring points, players can also be hunting for mutations that cause cancer, Alzheimer's disease or diabetes.

"Our brains are geared up to recognise patterns," says Erinma Ochu, a neuroscientist and Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow at the University of Manchester, explaining why scientists are turning to gamers for help, "and we do it better than computers. This is a new way of working for scientists, but as long as they learn how to trust games developers to do what they do best – make great games – then they can have thousands of people from all around the world working on their data."

The potential is huge. As a planet we spend 3bn hours a week playing online games, and if even a fraction of that time can be harnessed for science, laboratories around the world would have access to some rather impressive cognitive machinery. The trick, though, is to make the games as playable and addictive as possible – the more plays a game gets, the larger the dataset generated and the more robust the findings.

Zoran Popovic is the director of the Centre for Game Science at the University of Washington and is the co-creator of Foldit. He explains that while successfully entertaining the masses, these games are meeting a very pressing need: science needs more people.

"No matter what academic process we go through," he says, "we end up whittling down a huge population of middle schoolers interested in science to some small percentage that actually survive the PhD process and end up doing science. Considering how many open scientific problems there are, and how few scientists there are, it's clear that we're stymied in the progress of science simply by the number of able and interested people out there."

Through Foldit alone he estimates that the number of people working on protein folding around the world has increased by four times in the past two and a half years. Zooniverse, a website that offers a wide range of online citizen-science projects including Planet Hunters, estimates that, together, their volunteers give them a virtual office block of 600 people working around the clock on scientific questions.

If you want to join in and become a fully fledged citizen scientist, or if you just want to contribute to science on your way to work, here are 10 of the best games around. But be careful, because they're all pretty addictive. But that shouldn't be a surprise… they've been designed, by scientists, to be so.''

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/20...t-problems


The potential is limitless.
10-05-2014 07:44 PM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 7 users Like infowarrior1's post:
AnonymousBosch, WestIndianArchie, kbell, The Lizard of Oz, Nemencine, polymath, Patriarch
HawkWrites Offline
Woodpecker
**
Gold Member

Posts: 428
Joined: May 2014
Reputation: 10
Post: #2
RE: How online gamers are solving science's biggest problems
He's got a point but nothing can beat face-to-face gaming and the results that come from it. Face-to-face interaction has a much different effect.

-Hawk

Software engineer. Part-time Return of Kings contributor, full-time dickhead.

Bug me on Twitter and read my most recent substantial article: Regrets

Last Return of Kings article: An Insider's Guide to the Masculine Profession of Software Development
10-05-2014 08:34 PM
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
infowarrior1 Online
Ostrich
****

Posts: 1,780
Joined: Jan 2014
Reputation: 10
Post: #3
RE: How online gamers are solving science's biggest problems
(10-05-2014 08:34 PM)HawkWrites Wrote:  He's got a point but nothing can beat face-to-face gaming and the results that come from it. Face-to-face interaction has a much different effect.
Considering the difficulties of gathering people from different walks of life into a physical area it is much cheaper to do this online.

Also do you consider skype as face-to-face interaction?
10-05-2014 09:54 PM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Paracelsus Offline
Crow
*****
Gold Member

Posts: 6,181
Joined: Sep 2014
Reputation: 149
Post: #4
RE: How online gamers are solving science's biggest problems
I remember seeing this article a while back, and I couldn't quite put my finger on why I didn't like it.

I think on reflection I've figured out why:

(1) it's pandering to the idea that something isn't really worth doing unless it's entertaining. This is one of the great malaises of journalism in the West - the fact that news has not been about informing people for a long time, but rather about entertaining us. Entertaining people basically amounts to getting an emotional reaction out of them - whether delight or disgust. I went to a lecture given by a governmental adviser once. Most of what she said what soul-destroying corporate doublespeak, except for one sentence, which was a lightbulb moment to me about how media operates:

"Every news item you see these days has one of two themes: 'Isn't this great', or 'Isn't this horrible.' Because these are the stories that still generate page clicks or sell newspapers."

Anybody who lifts weights, or runs, or goes into MMA generally isn't doing it (as a primary goal, if at all) for entertainment value, they're doing it for personal or self-improvement reasons. Scientists -- I mean, career scientists, ones with tenure -- generally won't be looking for stars for entertainment value, they're doing it as a job, or as something they deeply care about (or ideally both).

We don't need any more entertainment as a society, we need people who are willing to build and support Maslow's pyramid for the betterment of all mankind (and not, might I add, for the betterment of one gender of that mankind.) This whole looking for planets thing strikes me as the illusion of real achievement, too: does anyone playing Planet Hunters really think they're going to get Zeta Reticuli III named after them or something?

(2) This concept, of the gamers of the world being some sort of "cognitive bank" that scientists could exploit, strikes me as frigging dehumanising. It's akin to treating the guy on the factory line as a replaceable asset, first cousin to the idea of The Matrix as something you're plugged into where your mind is diverted by an illusion of reality while its resources are exploited by someone else.

The justification for this project seems to be "People are better than computers at recognising patterns." Given the continuing adherence of computers to Moore's Law, I'd say a very important omission from that sentence: the words "at the moment" after the word "patterns." This article is like saying "Waste your time logging your brain into a computer system where you'll be outmoded eventually, for no real achievement other than being able to say to people 'I spent 400 hours looking for gas signatures in the Milky Way' as your supposed contribution to the common good." Again, it's the illusion of real achievement: you could have helped at least 6 or 7 homeless or disabled people with those 400 hours - real people in a real world, as opposed to fake achievement lumped onto a fake experience.
10-05-2014 09:58 PM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 1 user Likes Paracelsus's post:
Handsome Creepy Eel
infowarrior1 Online
Ostrich
****

Posts: 1,780
Joined: Jan 2014
Reputation: 10
Post: #5
RE: How online gamers are solving science's biggest problems
(10-05-2014 09:58 PM)Paracelsus Wrote:  I remember seeing this article a while back, and I couldn't quite put my finger on why I didn't like it.

I think on reflection I've figured out why:

(1) it's pandering to the idea that something isn't really worth doing unless it's entertaining. This is one of the great malaises of journalism in the West - the fact that news has not been about informing people for a long time, but rather about entertaining us. Entertaining people basically amounts to getting an emotional reaction out of them - whether delight or disgust. I went to a lecture given by a governmental adviser once. Most of what she said what soul-destroying corporate doublespeak, except for one sentence, which was a lightbulb moment to me about how media operates:

"Every news item you see these days has one of two themes: 'Isn't this great', or 'Isn't this horrible.' Because these are the stories that still generate page clicks or sell newspapers."

Anybody who lifts weights, or runs, or goes into MMA generally isn't doing it (as a primary goal, if at all) for entertainment value, they're doing it for personal or self-improvement reasons. Scientists -- I mean, career scientists, ones with tenure -- generally won't be looking for stars for entertainment value, they're doing it as a job, or as something they deeply care about (or ideally both).

We don't need any more entertainment as a society, we need people who are willing to build and support Maslow's pyramid for the betterment of all mankind (and not, might I add, for the betterment of one gender of that mankind.) This whole looking for planets thing strikes me as the illusion of real achievement, too: does anyone playing Planet Hunters really think they're going to get Zeta Reticuli III named after them or something?

(2) This concept, of the gamers of the world being some sort of "cognitive bank" that scientists could exploit, strikes me as frigging dehumanising. It's akin to treating the guy on the factory line as a replaceable asset, first cousin to the idea of The Matrix as something you're plugged into where your mind is diverted by an illusion of reality while its resources are exploited by someone else.

The justification for this project seems to be "People are better than computers at recognising patterns." Given the continuing adherence of computers to Moore's Law, I'd say a very important omission from that sentence: the words "at the moment" after the word "patterns." This article is like saying "Waste your time logging your brain into a computer system where you'll be outmoded eventually, for no real achievement other than being able to say to people 'I spent 400 hours looking for gas signatures in the Milky Way' as your supposed contribution to the common good." Again, it's the illusion of real achievement: you could have helped at least 6 or 7 homeless or disabled people with those 400 hours - real people in a real world, as opposed to fake achievement lumped onto a fake experience.

Considering the problems that utilizing the brainpower of video gamers have solved.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notroc...for-years/

I wouldn't say it is a fake achievement that video games generally are guilty of. But I do agree we do not need any more entertainment as a society.
(This post was last modified: 10-05-2014 10:11 PM by infowarrior1.)
10-05-2014 10:10 PM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 1 user Likes infowarrior1's post:
Paracelsus
Post Reply 


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread: Author Replies: Views: Last Post
  American society swinging towards extreme Puritanism, biggest change in 100 years MrLemon 45 6,216 06-13-2019 03:26 PM
Last Post: RoastBeefCurtains4Me
  Bill Nye the ""science"" guy goes to push feminist agenda loremipsum 149 56,988 05-14-2019 05:54 PM
Last Post: Bluto
  All Three Biggest US Beauty Pageants Are Won By Black Women For the First Time WalterBlack 51 4,656 05-09-2019 02:51 PM
Last Post: PapayaTapper

Forum Jump:


User(s) browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)

Contact Us | RooshV.com | Return to Top | Return to Content | Mobile Version | RSS Syndication