Mashable’s Social Good Summit.

I love being involved in the technology world – in part b/c of the great opportunities it provides to be involved in movements for the social good. Technology has made it possible for anyone to get involved in meaningful projects that enhance humanities’ common good. Mashable is currently holding a neat conference on this subject called The Social Good Summit. Here are links to their daily summaries / highlights of the conference:

And here are the items which stood out to me from each day:

Day 1:

  • “Even if we don’t know if we’re going to make it, what else can men of good consciousness do but fight into the bitter end… I’ve got a lot of flags on my boat, but I don’t have a white flag.” – Jacque Cousteau (as quoted by Ted Turner).
  • Suicide is the number one cause of death in the United States, Australia, and Japan amongst teenagers.

Day 2:

  • More than one million children die of malaria every year.

Day 3:

  • “Best-selling author Peter Sims took the stage to talk about how great ideas are developed from small gambles. He said ideas are not developed instantaneously but require little mistakes and modification before they take off.”
  • “Ms. James spoke about how organizations and non-profits need to think of the people they help as partners. She pushed entrepreneurs and activists to not just to help those in need across the world, but to engage them in dialogue and bring them into the solution as well.”
  • “Exposure to indoor smoke pollution from coal stoves is the fifth largest killer in the developing world.
  • “Robinson said 10 million women worldwide are forcibly married before they’re 18. She added that 64% of illiterate adults are women and that girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth.”

World Community Grid.

Introduction

Screen saver of World Community Grid
Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes the problem with accomplishing a charitable objective is not convincing people to support an endeavor but simply making them aware of the need and how they can be a part of the solution1 I do believe in the sickness of mankind – corporately and individually. In other words, I do not believe we are a blank slate capable of perfect good, but rather irretrievably corrupted, redeemable only via super-natural means. In such, I agree with traditional ideas on the depravity on man. However, too often the fact that we are sick has been used to describe us as dead. We yet bear a bit of that perfect image in which we were formed and while we will always make bad choices this does not preclude us from making good choices. Evangelicalism too often has failed to lead causes in arenas such as social justice because of a misuse of the concept of depravity. I consider myself solidly evangelical but unwilling to allow depravity to overcome ideas of social justice, charity, and humanity. It is a partial explanation of, but not a full picture, the nature and future of man.. I believe this is the case with the World Community Grid and I want to share with each of you about this exciting project that meets real needs and that each of us can painlessly participate in.

The Problem:

Humans cannot perform the calculations fast enough for many of the massive scientific and medical experiment currently in process. We need the assistance of computers to perform these massive calculations faster and reliably. Unfortunately, super-computers with massive processing power are in limited supply and expensive to either build or rent. This places a strain on medical and scientific researchers as they must secure extra funds or wait for computing resources to become available.

The Solution:

The World Community Grid allows individuals to install an application on their computer that essentially allows their computer to become part of a massive super-computer. Already hundreds of thousands of individuals participate, and well over a million machines are involved. Already we have contributed 195,000 years of processing power to various projects.

The Questions:

  • Will my computer run slower? Yes and no. In a strictly literal sense, it will – because its doing something else in the background. But in a realistic sense, there are generally no tangible changes in system performance. The software automatically reduces its resource utilization when you are actively utilizing the computer2 You can always turn off the application temporarily or permanently..
  • What sort of projects are these researchers working on? Cures/treatments for cancers, AIDs, muscular dystrophy, STDs, malaria, and flavivirus infections (e.g. West Nile encephalitis and yellow fever). The projects also model climate predictions and look for effective food hybrids (e.g. a more nutritious rice).

Conclusion:

Go to WorldCommunityGrid.org and sign up for a free account. Its easy, fun, and really makes a difference. In the U.S. alone we have a population of well over 200 million. Right now there are less than one million participants and we are already accomplishing amazing things. Join us for this exciting journey! If you have questions or encounter problems please enter them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer each one.