I got an announcement about a A Workshop on Humanities Applications for the World Community Grid (WCG) being hosted by IBM. The WCG is a volunteer grid that uses the BOINC platform and is “powered” by IBM. These volunteer projects fascinate me – they are not our father’s computing where the danger was computers getting smarter than us and taking over and the paradigm was AI. Now the symbiosis of humans and computing is on a social scale – grids of processors and teams of people. Here is what the WCG says about their project:
World Community Grid’s mission is to create the largest public computing grid benefiting humanity. Our work is built on the belief that technological innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can change our world for the better. Our success depends on individuals – like you – collectively contributing their unused computer time to this not-for-profit endeavor.
What sorts of humanities problems could we run on a grid like this? Do humanities projects “benefit humanity” or is medicine (curing cancer) the last human research left? My instinct tells me we could do internet mining for concepts where we gather, clean and analyze large numbers of documents on concepts like “dialogue”. Perhaps someone wants to submit a proposal with me.