August 4, 2010

WAIT'LL YOU SEE HOW MUCH INTELLIGENCE IMPROVES WHEN WE CLOSE THE CIA AND OPEN SOURCE IT:

Distributed Humans Smarter Than Distributed Computers In Solving Complex Biology Problem (Rebecca Boyle, 08.04.2010, Popular Science)

The program stems from Rosetta@home, which works like SETI@home in that it uses a network of idle home computers to crunch data. Biologists were using Rosetta to figure out how proteins develop their final three-dimensional shapes. They know which amino acid chains make up proteins, but the way they're structured is not well understood, and that knowledge has huge potential, because proteins act as gatekeepers in the body.

Rosetta@home included a screensaver that showed users what the computer was doing. Sometimes the computer would get stuck on a tricky folding problem, but gamers thought it looked easy. "People started writing in saying, 'I can see where it would fit better this way'," says David Baker, a biochemist at UW in Seattle who developed Foldit, in Nature News.

Baker's team figured they would let them try it out, and the result was Foldit, wherein players can compete, collaborate, develop strategies, gather points and move to different levels.

It turns out that humans' highly evolved spatial manipulation talents were a boon for this type of problem-solving. Even a small protein can have hundreds of amino acids, meaning thousands of connections are possible -- and that means plenty of work for a computer. But humans can often see the solution intuitively, Nature News reports.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 4, 2010 4:16 PM
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