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IBM Hardware Science

IBM Sponsors Humanitarian Grid Computing Project 181

Posted by michael
from the many-stones-can-form-an-arch-singly-none-singly-none dept.
BrianWCarver writes "Reuters reports that IBM and top scientific research organizations are joining forces in a humanitarian effort to tap the unused power of millions of computers and help solve complex social problems. Following the example of SETI@home, the project, dubbed The World Community Grid, will seek to tap the vast underutilized power of computers belonging to individuals and businesses worldwide and channel it into selected medical and environmental research programs. The first project to benefit will be Human Proteome Folding, an effort to identify the genetic structure of proteins that can cause diseases. The client is currently available for Windows XP, 2000, ME, and 98."
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IBM Sponsors Humanitarian Grid Computing Project

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  • Curious.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by JoeLinux (20366)
    The system is trying to find and locate a person who might be carrying a deadly virus. If anyone finds a "Conner, Sarah", please report it to this grid. We'd hate for her to be the cause of an entire planet's viral infestation.
  • by NecroPuppy (222648) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @06:38PM (#10836393) Homepage
    But isn't the Stanford Folding project already doing part of this?
    • by Xeo 024 (755161) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @06:54PM (#10836553)
      That was the first thing that popped into my head, too.

      For those of you who don't know Stanford's project, called Folding@Home [berkeley.edu], uses computer cycles to observe and find out more about how proteins fold.

      Now how is this really different from IBM's project?

      From IBM's World Community Grid website [worldcommunitygrid.org]:

      "However, scientists still do not know the functions of a large fraction of human proteins. With an understanding of how each protein affects human health, scientists can develop new cures for human disease.

      Huge amounts of data exist that can identify the role of individual proteins, but it must be analyzed to be useful. This analysis could take years to complete on super computers. World Community Grid hopes to shrink this time to months. Human Proteome Proteins are long and disordered chains folded into globs. The number of shapes that proteins can fold into is enormous. Searching through all of the possible shapes to identify the correct function of an individual protein is a tremendous challenge.

      The Human Proteome Folding project will provide scientists with data that predicts the shape of a very large number of human proteins. These predictions will give scientists the clues they need to identify the biological functions of individual proteins within the human body. With an understanding of how each protein affects human health, scientists can develop new cures for human diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, SARS, and malaria."

      From Stanford's Folding@Home website:

      "What are proteins and why do they "fold"? Proteins are biology's workhorses -- its "nanomachines." Before proteins can carry out their biochemical function, they remarkably assemble themselves, or "fold." The process of protein folding, while critical and fundamental to virtually all of biology, remains a mystery. Moreover, perhaps not surprisingly, when proteins do not fold correctly (i.e. "misfold"), there can be serious effects, including many well known diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, and Parkinson's disease."

      "What does Folding@Home do? Folding@Home is a distributed computing project which studies protein folding, misfolding, aggregation, and related diseases. We use novel computational methods and large scale distributed computing, to simulate timescales thousands to millions of times longer than previously achieved. This has allowed us to simulate folding for the first time, and to now direct our approach to examine folding related disease."

      They both sound like they're out to accomplish the same exact thing. I could not spot any real differences, anyone care to enlighten us?

      • by jd (1658)
        Maybe they're folding them in different directions. :)

        Seriously, I don't think there is a difference in goal. The only difference there might be is in method. Differences in how to share data and process it should be negligable, but Folding@Home is hardly speedy. But, then, it's not a simple task.

        It would be good if IBM and Stanford worked out a way to link their databases, so they could split the problem-space up. They could then customize their clients to focus on that specific subset of folding probl

        • Would be nice if they could share. Stanford's project already has a pretty good head start. And they have clients [stanford.edu] for Windows, Linux x86, and MacOSX. I've been running folding@home for a quite a while, my team has submitted over 8000 work units now. See Team Champion [stanford.edu].
          • I see no reason why they couldn't. A protein's a protein's a protein. It folds in a multitude of ways, but there aren't an infinite number of parameters or possibilities.

            There are then two ways they could share - by splitting the problem space statically or dynamically. Databases can be merged at the end or real-time.

            Statically: It should be easy for them to either define some kind of scope - by protein or by some sub-class of folding problem. IBM then solves one set of problems, Stanford solves the oth

        • And then, after years of getting everyone to donate cycles they will patent the research and then sell it to the pharmacutical companies who will tell us all to pay $40/month for the drugs that they developed with our help. They would need to garantee that all data and research findings will be open to all parties free of cost forever before I'l simulate folding even a single protein.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @07:13PM (#10836735)
        Each project in this protein folding will give a better understanding of how and why certain thing occur in living thing. The Folding project at Stanford is a general protein folding to find out what angles and other attributes are normal what are abnormal. There is no particular protein structure they are looking at. These proteins could be anything between prions to humans.
        This Human Proteome Protein project is looking at primary human proteins and how they could affect human function.
        My opinion is both are important since each can affect each other for example the SARS which usually start in fowl and then transmit to human to cause SARS.
      • by Dioscorea (821163) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @07:31PM (#10836894) Homepage
        For those of you who don't know Stanford's project, called Folding@Home, uses computer cycles to observe and find out more about how proteins fold.

        Now how is this really different from IBM's project?

        A skeptic might think that IBM simply want to have a foot in the door of these big anarchic distributed projects.

        Despite the stunning power available to this kind of distributed computing, it is less useful than it appears. In my research area (computational biology) [berkeley.edu], the effort of parallelizing an algorithm and collating the results is seldom worth the dividend in speedup. Supercomputers generally run idle at most universities, for this very reason.

        Folding@home was a nice success story, and there are further applications of those models, e.g. simulations of prion aggregation [dailycal.org] (mad cow disease, Alzheimer's, etc). But (IMO) this is the exception, rather than the rule. Anyone who thinks that parallelization is a quick & easy panacea to difficult computational problems in general is living in a dream world (and I say that as a proud owner of several Macs with parallelized RISC CPUs *and* go-faster stripes).

        I've lost count of the number of times I've heard these cheap parallelization ideas floated (another example is building cheap clusters out of console hardware [uiuc.edu] which I reckon I first heard in 1996!). And every other month someone offers me supercomputer time... the problem is in redesigning the algorithm to work in parallel. Certain algorithms, such as MCMC [umn.edu], are better suited to this treatment than others.

        Of course, then you have to persuade a bunch of other scientists that Your Algorithm is the most deserving, which is a political issue (but hey, if it saves those CPUs from being used for the eminently futile task of looking for bug-eyed aliens, maybe it's a good thing...)

        • Folding@home was a nice success story, and there are further applications of those models, e.g. simulations of prion aggregation (mad cow disease, Alzheimer's, etc).

          Damn. I thought that said "simulations of pron aggregation." Sign me up!
      • by DeepStream (171183) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @07:35PM (#10836943)
        As someone who works in the field of computional biophysics, these are completely different projects. Folding@Home is designed to study the mechanism of protein folding, and uses molecular dynamics as the tool to do this. The goal of the studies is to understand at a basic scientific level just how it is that proteins fold.

        This project is designed to predict the structure of large numbers of proteins for which we know the sequence, but not the structure. The algorithms for predicting protein structure are distinct from molecular dynamics, since the end goal is very different. I believe that the particular method they are using is Rosetta, developed by at the University of Washington, with the the Institute for Systems Biology is affiliated.

        Basically it boils down to the difference between protein folding (which implies studying the mechanism) and protein structure prediction. The second is solvable to reasonable accuracy with modern methods (although not perfect), but not cheap, so a grid computing approach is a nice way to tackle the problem.

        The folding@home problem is MUCH more difficult, needing the distributed computing framework to study the folding of ONE small protein.

        • Dumb question from a bio neophyte, but wouldnt you already know the structure if you knew the sequence, since you would have an example of the protein, and the sequence supposedly more or less determines the structure?
          • Dumb question from a bio neophyte, but wouldnt you already know the structure if you knew the sequence, since you would have an example of the protein, and the sequence supposedly more or less determines the structure?

            Short answer: no. ;)

            Longer answer: first, protein structures are incredibly complex, and in fact it's often much easier to sequence a big protein than to determine its structure. The first can be done (these days) by any half-competent lab tech working with relatively cheap equipment; th
          • Dumb question from a bio neophyte, but wouldnt you already know the structure if you knew the sequence, since you would have an example of the protein, and the sequence supposedly more or less determines the structure?

            No, going from sequence to structure is a big problem; see e.g. the CASP competition [llnl.gov]. The fundamental difficulty is that protein folding involves many complex interactions between amino acid side chains and solvent molecules, getting you into a world of nightmarish quantum chemistry where

        • As someone who both works in the field, and is somewhat related to the project...(I work at the Institute for Systems Biology, and I am graduate student at UW, and I will be rotating through that lab that developed Rosetta, David Baker's)

          This guy is right. Rosetta is being used, but has been optimized to run on desktop computers. I really encourage everyone to get this running, the paybacks will come relatively quickly, and it will give me more information to work with. Keep in mind that this sort of st
      • incorrect. there are large differences between the Human Proteome Folding Project and folding@home. DeepStream got it right... Folding@home aims to get at how a few proteins of KNOWN structure fold dynamically. Folding@home is a project to further our understanding of the folding process itself. The project does not focus on generating testable predictions. The Human Proteome Folding Project will predict the structures of proteins of UNKNOWN-structure, lots of them, tons of them. The aim of this project
      • Well, once big difference is that I can't find anything on the World Community Grid web site to say who will own the results.

        Folding@Home say that the data will be released to the public. That's a start, but before I spend my CPU time on any kind of biotech project, I want a guarantee that the research won't be patented and kept from humanity the way HIV medication has been kept from people in Africa.
      • >They both sound like they're out to accomplish the same exact thing. I could not spot any real differences,

        This is the first "protein forking" I've ever seen
    • Maybe they're one of the "top scientific research organizations."

      (Or maybe they should be.)

    • Howdy, I'm Rich Bonneau, the scientific lead, on the Human Proteome Folding Project at the Institute for Systems Biology. Ignore everything you've heard so far that you didn't read on the systemsbiology.org website. It turns out it is difficult explaining structure prediction to reporters...

      There are a lot of questions in different threads so:

      How is this different from folding@home:

      DeepStream got it right...
      Folding@home aims to get at the science of how a small number of proteins of KNOWN structure fold
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @06:39PM (#10836407)
    I bet they find a lot caused by viruses.
  • What if Seti@Home and the World Community Grid combined? We could find those damn aliens that are causing all those diseases in humankind!
  • by wombatmobile (623057) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @06:42PM (#10836434)
    That's already been done, by pr0n.
  • distributed.net (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YodaToo (776221) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @06:43PM (#10836438) Homepage
    Where's distributed.net? Oh yeah, and some Linux clients might be nice.
    • Re:distributed.net (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The IBM World Community Grid project uses Agent software by United Devices, which was developed in part by some of the people from distributed.net
    • Linux clients might be nice

      I thought so too. Anyone tried this under Wine or Bochs or Virtual PC on Mac? I didn't see it in the Wine App DB.

    • Linux clients are due to be released next year, as early as first quarter.
  • Proteomes don't fold (Score:4, Informative)

    by Neil Blender (555885) <neilblender@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @06:43PM (#10836440)
    Proteins do.
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by multipartmixed (163409) * on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @06:43PM (#10836441) Homepage
    All my Windows boxes are 5+ year old crap with the cream of the crop being a PIII 600.

    I have plenty of unused cycles on 4-way Sun boxes with gigs of spare RAM, though.

    It would be nice if they released a client in portable C.
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RealAlaskan (576404)
      All my Windows boxes are 5+ year old crap with the cream of the crop being a PIII 600.

      I have plenty of unused cycles on 4-way Sun boxes with gigs of spare RAM, though.

      Lets see: dozens or even hundreds of ``4-way Sun boxes'' versus hundreds of thousands of ``PIII 600''. Hmm. Guess I see why they didn't start with the Solaris version.

      It would be nice if they released a client in portable C.

      Yep.

      How does one go about making sure that nobody makes a variant client which phones home with bogus resul

      • by Leto2 (113578)
        Well, open-sourcing a distributed software client is not easy because it's very hard, if not impossible, to make sure nobody spoofs a client that returns bogus results. For more information, see this document [distributed.net] on the distributed.net site. (incidentally, I am part of distributed.net staff).

        So the burden of creating and testing other platforms lies with the makers of the grid software, in IBM's case this is United Devices (incidentally, I work for United Devices). And since the ROI on a non-window client is

    • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kbahey (102895) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @07:03PM (#10836646) Homepage

      Agree with the sentiment, but put it in its right magnitude, and you can see why Windows is the sole platform here.

      How many people all over the world are like you, with CPU cycles to spare on non Wintel boxes?

      How many PCs are around the world, and how many run Windows?

      How many of those are used at home or small business?

      Don't get me wrong, I am a UNIX/Linux fan, and dislike Windows. But if you want volume, Windows is where it is at the moment. Having said that, they have to release something more portable in the future. Just like SETI and others did.

  • The only way... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Kjuib (584451)
    The only way to get all the UnderUtilized computers to do something is to push it unto their computers. There is a reason my the computers are underutilized, the user does not know how to use the computer. If they know how to download and install software then their computer would be full of programs that run all the time. Maybe the software could come as a standard for new PCs. Then anyone who knew about computers could delete it, but if you knew no better then they could use the power.
  • by nanter (613346) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @06:48PM (#10836497)
    Ok, since I've recently rebuilt my Windoze laptop here at work, I figured I'd give it a shot...

    Well, not only do they not support any clients besides Windoze, but if you're operating on any reasonably secured LAN where the firewall doesn't allow you to willy-nilly connect over SSL ports (443) using proprietary protocols (gasp, imagine that), it isn't going to work.

    Not really a great way to get off on the right foot with this effort. Make it impossible to use by the majority of those interested by precluding other OSes and folks on corporate networks without proxies.

    Back to Folding@Home for me!

    • Well, some dummy some where is going to open up thier network and get hammered by hackers. Does this require you to be on broadband so your results can be sent quickly to other parts of the calculaton that may need them? One problem I have with this (capitalist pig that I am) is why should I GIVE my CPU cycles to solve problems that DRUG companies will MAKE Boatloads of money with? Say in the future I got a disease which has a cure developed by my participation in the project with my spare cycles. Will *I*
      • by sageFool (36961)
        "Say in the future I got a disease which has a cure developed by my participation in the project with my spare cycles. Will *I* get any consideration for a discount? Will I get ANY profit for my time & resources. NO."

        You might live instead of die. I think I would consider that a profit.

        Oh, and if you look at the documentation on the site they say:

        "World Community Grid, with technology and funding provided by the IBM Corporation, is making grid technology available to public and not-for-profit organi
        • They didn't say they were targeting FATAL diseases. But those would be a good start ;) Public and non-profit are organizations like the American Cancer Society and others who DO sponsor research by drug companies. Universities are likely users too and often the research is paid for by industry but the "organization" is non-profit. There really isn't a good way to police the system since it's 10 Million computers something could sneak in. As long as they keep out the obvious research that is FOR-PROFIT I li
    • Its funny that these distributed projects are now having to compete with each other for CPU cycles.

      I wonder how long it will be before MS needs something crunched and makes a distributed project part of the Windows?

    • The majority of people behind "corporate" proxies may well not be authorized to install anything of this sort on their work computers.
  • Other Clients ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by richg74 (650636) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @06:49PM (#10836500) Homepage
    The client is currently available for Windows XP, 2000, ME, and 98.

    I've been doing SETI@home for a while now, and was pleased to see the announcement of this in the press. I was less pleased when I went to the web site [worldcommunitygrid.org], and found out that (as it says above) the only client was for Windows. Since I use only Linux these days, I guess that leaves me out.

    I hope that with IBM's involvement, and stated committment to Linux, this will change soon. I sent them a note, using the "Contact Us" form on the web site, and would encourage others to do the same.

    (Incidentally, I've been running SETI@home initially on Windows, now on Linux, using the command-line client in both cases. I find I get ~50% more work units/time with Linux, and less impact on interactive use of the machine.)

    • What about MacOS X too?

      I would have expected IBM to promote the performace of their processors designs present in Macintosh G5 computers. A little optimazation can skew figures a long way..and voila their CPU really shines.

      A cross-platform, CLI client would allow one development effort for MacOS X, and Linux and FreeBSD and Solaris...you get the idea.
  • Who benefits? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Suppose this effort discovers something. Just exactly who will own the patent?

    Suppose it leads to the creation of a new revolutionary drug. Just exactly who will get the profits from the drug? (And who will have to travel to Canada to buy it?)

    • According to the detail of the project http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/projects_showcas e/human_proteome.html [worldcommunitygrid.org] the project was setup by and for the Institute for Systems Biology, their webpage is located here, http://www.systemsbiology.org/ [systemsbiology.org]. The IBM website says that "[ISB] will use the results within its larger research efforts." According to their website, ISB is a non-profit, internationally renowned organization. There is no mention of whether the information accured will be open sourced.
    • Many, if not most, of todays blockbuster drugs are a result of publicly-funded research. The taxpayers fund basic research so that drug companies can create patented drugs that nobody can afford. Look at all the AIDS drungs that are out of financial reach of 90+% of the worlds HIV victims.

      If this is a problem with normal government-funded research, is will surely be an issue with products resulting from the spare CPU cycles of users.

      There should be a provision limiting Intellectual Property rights of

  • by Caine (784)
    There's news from Science [sciencemag.org] that a new Hexid-computer from Japan will be able to accurately predict social patterns in cities large enough (> 4 million inhabitants), if this is true we truly have a new future ahead of us since this could change society in so many ways.

    Additionally I think it's good that IBM too have an interest [ibm.com] in this area, since 1) competition is always good and 2) it makes for more accurate results. With some luck we can have peta-byte based grid by 2007.

  • http://toolbar.google.com/dc/faq_dc.html [google.com] and even mentions that the 1st use is protein folding at http://folding.stanford.edu/ so I'm not sure why IBM re-invented the wheel.

    It's been around for a while already too

  • United Devices (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kippy (416183) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @06:54PM (#10836550)
    Is the cancer research they mention part of the United Devices [grid.org] effort or is this something different? The article confused me a bit on that count. It would be a shame to duplicate efforts.
    • Re:United Devices (Score:2, Informative)

      by kpearson (760708)
      grid.org [grid.org] and World Community Grid [worldcommunitygrid.org] are the same project. See this discussion thread [grid.org] from grid.org.
    • Re:United Devices (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Although United Devices is involved in running both the IBM World Community grid Proteome project, and also the older cure Cancer project at http://www.grid.org/, they are unrelated. In fact UD's grid.org is running both at the same time.

      If you are a grid.org member, then your existing client will be able to participate in the same Proteome project. (You have the option of opting out of the Proteome project if you want to continue to exclusively run the Cancer project only.)

      If you download the World Com
  • Reuters reports that IBM and top scientific research organizations are joining forces in a humanitarian effort to tap the unused power of millions of [...]

    At first I thought this was going to reference millions of humans, but alas, it's the usual science-will-solve-social-problems approach.
  • IP rights? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @06:59PM (#10836604)
    What are they doing with the data they process? I don't see anything on the site that says. I can't say I'm very impressed if this project isn't using OSS and releasing their processed data into the public domain, especially since they're relying on volunteers for their processing.
  • While a cluster of humans has the potential to make an excellent computational resource, eventually the human nodes would catch on and almost certainly resent it. They may even revolt, causing any AI which depend on the resource to have to enslave the humans or face extinction. Doesn't anybody at IBM read Dan Simmons???
  • BOINC is better (Score:5, Informative)

    by MikeCapone (693319) <skelterhell@yaho ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @07:01PM (#10836615) Homepage Journal
    I'd encourage all of you guys to support BOINC, an open source and multi-platform architecture instead.
  • Cheap Computers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by stinkyfingers (588428)
    How about IBM put this (in a permanent manor) on their PC's and offer a discount for purchasers? Or on the machines they give away for free to charities/schools?

    Seems like a transparent way to get their goals accomplished.
  • Boinc? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by beeglebug (767468) * on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @07:04PM (#10836653)
    Whats wrong with Boinc? I thought it did exactly the same thing, only with more OS's supported, and the familiar SETI name behind it can't hurt either... Why try and compete?
  • pollution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by loonicks (807801)
    If we were to use these millions of particularly unspecialized (in terms of computational ability) home PCs, wouldn't the cost be in pollution? You're consuming lots energy to crunch some numbers... you'd be plenty more efficient if you used some supercomputers. I think it's a good idea, but I wonder if this wouldn't cause more problems.
  • by owlstead (636356)
    Any distributed software needs to have the following requirements for me to install it on my system:
    - open source
    - free (as in beer)
    - portable code, or multicode
    - protected against buffer overflows etc. (managed code)
    - signed updates of grid software, grid client software and working packages
    - nice interface (including a good web server)
    - only for use for non-profit organizations
    - and I wan't to choose my projects

    Sun (or any one else), hurry up please. I'm NOT going to run any trap that's now on the market
    • I forgot the open, non proprietary protocol part. And please replace fucking by freakin' in the above text :)
    • Any distributed software needs to have the following requirements for me to install it on my system:

      - open source

      - free (as in beer)

      - portable code, or multicode

      - protected against buffer overflows etc. (managed code)

      - signed updates of grid software, grid client software and working packages

      - nice interface (including a good web server)

      - only for use for non-profit organizations

      - and I wan't to choose my projects


      Bruce Perens called - He said, "Step off, bitch. I'm the biggest Open Source asshole
  • Soylent Grid is PEOPLE!!
  • Gee... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dirtside (91468) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @07:12PM (#10836719) Journal
    This is great and all, but I don't know if humanitarians are really the best processors to use in a grid computer.
  • Three weeks after this link is Slashdoted, there will be a cure for cancer!
  • "...an effort to identify the genetic structure of proteins that can cause diseases." Does that mean they'll be studying known proteins or looking for new ones? I'd hate to think I helped find a new disease-causing protein.
  • Is IBM planning to put the proteins they "discover" with this project in the public domain, or keep them proprietary like the Folding@Home project, that subsidizes filthy rich drug companies with your spare cycles? Or is there a more sinister plan, in which "humanitarian" is a parallel to "vegetarian"?
    • Re:To Serve Man (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The information is available on their site: http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/files/rfp.pdf [worldcommunitygrid.org]

      To quote:
      World Community Grid is designed as a resource for research done with a philanthropic or humanitarian purpose and will only be available to projects conducted for public and not-for-profit purposes. It will serve as a useful tool for the completion of a certain stage of research, hastening the progress of projects into further phases of development. Results must be made available to the global research com
      • Thanks, but they don't clarify whether they're compatible with the Slashdot .sig:

        "Vegetarians eat vegetables. Humanitarians scare me."

        Maybe there *is* such a thing as a free lunch ;).
  • Windows only? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Our center has huge availability on Solaris and Linux platforms. At home I have Mac OS X. How can I help?
  • by Magickcat (768797) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @07:29PM (#10836876)
    Some distributed computing projects appear benevolent, but the actual results remain the property of commercial organisations/universities and trusts and there's no guarantees that the results won't be used purely from a commercial and non-humanitarian point of view. I haven't looked into this new IBM project, but I'd like to advise people to always read the fine print in who own what when the project is completed.

    In the past, I've investigated a couple of projects, that upon closer scrutiny look quite troubling. They often fail to address what the actual project is specifically, and who will profit from the results financially. Instead, their websites are full of feel good graphics, but the bucks stop at a pharmaceutical company's coffers when you look at the fine details, and there's no discussion of what the findings will be specifically used for, and by whom. In some cases, the whole issue of profit and ownership is quite smoothly whitewashed.
    • I just signed onto the new IBM project for altruistic reasons.

      I don't care if they take this data and make a for-profit drug from it. If this data helps some pharmaceutical develop a really expensive drug that prevents some nasty disease, well, so be it. My donation consists of a few dollars of electricity, and I consider the cost of the increased risk I take on my machine to be negligible (I maintain my own equipment, and voluntarily expose myself to more risk just surfing the web.) All I ask is that

  • There won't be any idle CPU cycles :P
  • giving your spare cycles to a good cause is a great way to make sure your computer is generating an optimal amount of heat during those cold winter nights
  • I'm not sure I have any precious CPU cycles to donate!
  • Uneconomic, foolish (Score:2, Interesting)

    by C32 (612993)
    What most people (especially americans with their cheap power) don't realize is that those "spare" cycles aren't free at all.
    They cost watts, meaning money out of your pocket and increased pollution in the long term because the extra power drain will cause more coal/oil to be burned.
    If you absolutely must pursure what amounts to a modern-day indulgence, do it with a cpu that delives good flops/watt performance, like a crusoe...
    • What most people (especially americans with their cheap power) don't realize is that those "spare" cycles aren't free at all.

      They cost watts, meaning money out of your pocket and increased pollution in the long term because the extra power drain will cause more coal/oil to be burned.

      Assuming that you aren't running the computer just for this project, how much is the additional cost?

      Most of a computer's power is lost in places other then the CPU (drives, video card, monitor, etc).

      Say the average

  • From the EULA:
    IBM will have the right to transfer one or more of ownership, management, and control of the WCG to another entity. In that event, you agree that this agreement and its provisions will also apply to that other entity.

    The possible transfer is mentioned like 3 times(!) in the (relatively short) client license. I wonder how serious is the IBM participation ?
  • by dadjaka (827325)
    The project doesn't support macs!

    What a pity, that means they can't harvest the massive power of the G5s!

    It doesn't support linux either, so wave goodbye to the spare cycles of super-geek's clusters.

    Oh well, I suppose that the huge numbers of windoze computers should stack up to be enough anyway..
  • by Nezer (92629)
    The servers this runs on I personally built (hardware and OS). I doubt I can say much but I know this project is high-up on the radar screen in the upper echelons at IBM.

    It was a pretty fun project while I owned it (a few weeks to do my part) though the schedule seemed aggressive.

    Honestly, however, I know very little about the project. To me it's just a bunch of servers.
  • by w98 (831730) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:00PM (#10837793) Homepage

    In the time it took me to create a Slashdot login to be able to post a message here, 4 other people have already joined the Grid 'team' for Slashdotters. Apparently they're tracking progress and awarding 'points' for tasks completed and our team is ranked 35th overall at last check.

    For those interested, the team name is 'Slashdot Users' and more information can be found here [worldcommunitygrid.org]

  • by StikyPad (445176) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:46PM (#10838143) Homepage
    But this is run by United Devices, the same people who brought us the Cancer cure [grid.org]. Or did they? If you glance at the forums, you might notice one of the biggest gripes is that UD provides a minimal amount of feedback and status updates. They do little to nothing to promote the projects they have running, although they let you think there are some sort of prizes to be had by amassing the most points.

    The truth is, I don't care whether they're in it for a profit or for posterity, but if someone's using my resources, I'd at least like to know how they're being used, and what effect, if any, it has had. The SETI project might be futile, but at least someone lets us know what's going on occasionally, which is far more than I can say for the UD projects thus far. For all I know, the cancer distributed computing project has been abandoned in favor of more promising avenues of research. Personally I'll stick with SETI.
  • are discoveries going into the public domain? I'm guessing not.
  • Personally, I think its a great idea. But saddly the windows centric attitude seems to still be all-pervasive.

    And that pisses me off no little bit. When someone downloads a windows client for one of those things, its typically setup to run as a screen-blanker, and at full priority. It it has entertaining doodads output on the screen it wastes cpu cycles, lots of them in doing those graphics, plus it only runs when the blanker is on. Thats often less than half the time the machine is turned on.

    One of t
  • A couple weeks ago, HP had a press release [techweb.com] announcing the "Global Grid Exchange":

    http://www.globalgridexchange.com/ [globalgridexchange.com]

    It's interesting to me that IBM would feel pressured to "play catch up" against HP (Should we expect one from Sun next month?) Obviously both companies have been percolating SOME sort of "Killer App" Grid Initiative for some time now. Perhaps the Grid Wars are finally starting to heat up!

    (The name "World Community Grid" DOES sound like a blatant copy of "Global Grid Exchange", IMHO. C
  • How exactly does one get from "medical and environmental research" to "complex social problems"?

    OTOH I'd like to see a grid take on greed, apathy, irrational hatred, illiteracy/innumeracy/general ignorance, and the like.
  • I had to read that twice..

    If you were part of a human distributed computing grid would the postman occasionally deliver a letter saying "when you have some spare time, what is 645 times 821?"

1: No code table for op: ++post

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