Cello Fortress is a unique combination of a game and a live music performance. A cellist defends a fortress by improvising on his cello.
We’ve landed on the moon, can grow organs and even skydive from space, yet when it comes to understanding the brain, scientists are mostly in the dark. EyeWire is a citizen science game that will radically increase the rate at which neuroscientists discover neural connections and subsequently begin to understand how neurons collectively function, yielding higher level cognition such as visual perception.
Map the 3D structure of neurons by playing EyeWire and become a part of Seung Lab at MIT.
For more, watch computational neuroscientist H. Sebastian Seung (Living Systems DC Salon) explain what the wiring of the brain reveals about genetics, personality, and memory. Seung suggests that complex maps of neural connective structures, or connectomes, will reveal that our experiences literally shape our brains.
The game starts when you pick a side: Democrat or Republican. You can select each balloon and see the text of their tweet above. Your job is to identify party allies, and deflate your political opponents with a well-aimed dart.
Instructions for playing the Hot Air Game. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
Neat gamification of political twitter commentary.
Instead of giving your dollars to Zynga to make your virtual farm grow faster, what if the real dollars you invested in a virtual game went to help a real entrepreneur?
Sounds good to us!
“People can solve much more complex problems online. We are at the edge of human knowledge.” - Adrien Treuille (2011 PopTech Science Fellow)
Meet eteRNA, your new internet addiction. Not only is it a super-fun way to procrastinate on that thing you should be doing, it also helps to advance biology’s understanding of RNA and its synthesis - in a big way. Scientists from Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon University have developed eteRNA as a successor to Foldit, a popular internet-based game that proved the pattern-matching skills of amateurs could outperform some of the best protein-folding algorithms designed by scientists. They’re hedging their bets that eteRNA will work similarly - and are even funding the real-life synthesis of the weekly winner’s RNA molecule to see if it really does fold the same way the game predicts it should.
The scientists hope to tap the internet’s ability to harness what is described as “collective intelligence,” the collaborative potential of hundreds or thousands of human minds linked together. Using games to harvest participation from amateurs exploits a resource which the social scientist Clay Shirky recently described as the “cognitive surplus” - the idea that together, as a collection of amateurs, we internet people make a very good algorithm because we react to information presented in a game, get better at it as we go along, and make informed decisions based on what has or hasn’t worked for us in the past.
“We’re the leading edge in asking nonexperts to do really complicated things online,” says Dr. Treuille, an assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon and one of the original masterminds behind the game. “RNA are beautiful molecules. They are very simple and they self-assemble into complex shapes. From the scientific side, there is an RNA revolution going on. The complexity of life may be due to RNA signaling.”
“This [project] is like putting a molecular chess game in people’s hands at a massive level,” he continues. “I think of this as opening up science. I think we are democratizing science.”
And, so far, the democratisation is working. Although the creators warn that game players may start to see legal and ethical issues in gameplay down the road, for now, the collective intelligence is trumping professionally designed algorithms. Significantly, not only do humans outperform their computer adversaries, but the human strategies developed during the course of the game are significantly more flexible and adaptable than those of the algorithms they’re pitted against.
So what are you waiting for? This isn’t procrastination, it’s being a part of a collective intelligence that’s smart enough to take down science’s finest algorithms. Click here (you know you want to) to get synthesising!
From a v. interesting interview with Will Wright in Wired, I was surprised at how much was surprising. And this little chestnut here, this has lessons in it that extend out in more directions than most anyone will ever imagine.
Will Wright (PopTech 2006), the creative force behind The Sims series believes a complex way of understanding the world can be gained through very simple rules. Take a trip down memory land and watch as Wright unveils Spore, where players are creators who build—and react to—ever-more complexity within their environments.