As I write this, Iâ€™m helping, albeit in a small way, research scientists who are trying to discover new drugs for dengue fever. Actually, my computerâ€™s helpingâ€”because I joined the World Community Grid, a network of nearly 1 million computers that work together to solve problems requiring massive computational power.
IBM organized the World Community Grid four years ago, but I just learned about it the other dayâ€”when the company announced a new research project, to develop strong and nutritional strains of rice. Rice, as you may know, is the primary source of calories for about half the worldâ€™s population.
So I joined the grid and then dashed off a Sustainability column about how it works, and about the rice research, for fortune.com and cnnmoney.com. Hereâ€™s how it begins:
Next time you get up from your computer, consider this – you could be helping scientists discover new ways to attack the global food crisis, find a cure for cancer or understand the impact of climate change on Africa.
You can do so not by giving money or time, but by sharing your computer’s unused processing power with a nonprofit network organized by IBM known as the World Community Grid. So many people – 383,558, last time I looked – and so many devices – 989,479 – have signed up for the grid that it now packs as much power as the third most-powerful supercomputer in the world.
The World Community Grid launched in 2004, the same year as Facebook. Think of it as social networking for the common good.
Joining the World Community Grid is easier than writing a check or volunteering your time (although itâ€™s no substitute for either). It took me five minutes. Take a few minutes and check it out here.
You can read the rest of the column here.