Wikipedia sums up the news nicely:
“. . . online gamers used Foldit to decipher the crystal structure of M-PMV retroviral protease, which is linked to an AIDS-like virus. Players produced an accurate 3D model of the enzyme in just three weeks. The problem had thwarted scientists for a decade.”
This is significant: We haven’t hit the singularity yet, but the emergence of tools like Foldit that enable the masses to cooperate, will greatly accelerate technological progress.
- Planet Hunters project lets people look for alien planets.
- Ancient Lives project lets people translate ancient texts.
- Solar Storm Watch enlists people to spot and track explosions from our sun.
- Captchas are often part of a transcription project, and you’re actually helping transcribe words from old texts.
The beautiful cooperation that we have enabled with the Internet is throwing us forward. As more people participate, and new forms of participation are created, the benefits to and advancement of humankind will be exponential.