ALMOST 1.5 MILLION PCs around the world are being used to develop a treatment for anthrax, without their owners knowing
February 12, 2002 3:48 PM   Subscribe

ALMOST 1.5 MILLION PCs around the world are being used to develop a treatment for anthrax, without their owners knowing After discovering this I decided to donate my free CPU cycles here Here are some other choices Is anyone else offended by this switch.
posted by onegoodmove (5 comments total)
Here's a previous thread on distributed projects for more information.
posted by crog at 4:19 PM on February 12, 2002

Exsqueeze me, baking powder? Why isn't anyone discussing this? It's not my sort of subject, but I'd have expected a bunch of hand-wringing liberals to have been having an argument about this by now.
posted by wackybrit at 10:17 PM on February 12, 2002

I don't donate my computer to this kind of research (altho I should). If I did, I would definitely want to know of any changes. Not that research on Anthrax is a bad thing, but there are some out there who have preferences as to what their computers are doing in their spare time.

Really, it's the principle of the thing. Intel/UD was wrong in not going far enough to inform everybody.
posted by ashbury at 11:02 PM on February 12, 2002

The United Devices member site is completely public about the switch, as follows:

United Devices Members now have a chance to participate in a new project: the fight against the threat of anthrax. The Anthrax Research Project will take advantage of and build upon the success of the Intel-United Devices Cancer Research Project.... The goal is to develop a drug that can be used in the advanced stages of the disease—currently anthrax can only be treated with antibiotics in its earliest stages.

Once completed, United Devices will return its focus to the cancer project. As per United Devices Member Policy, Members who want to commit their computing cycles exclusively to cancer research can do so.

Posts in the forum on their website indicate that not everyone was happy with the way the project was rolled out, but most are now pleased with the changes made -- maybe it was pushed on without any consent, and now you have a choice.

The main thing is that the Anthrax project is a very short timeframe (under 2 months) and doesn't affect the longer-term goals of the project by much.

SETI@Home had some similar problems -- in the beginning they were overwhelmed with sign-ups and actually had too little data prepared to crunch, so they were sending out duplicate packets. This caused distrust and bad blood.

I've been on hands-on volunteer projects where people thought their efforts were being misused, abused, or ignored before. It's par for the course, especially for organizers who haven't done it before. But then, like the AIDS rides, if you go with wholly professional organizers you can get accused of wasting donated money on the professional organizers.

It all comes down to communication.
posted by dhartung at 11:24 PM on February 12, 2002

If you want a cure for Anthrax I would suggest you start with the people that developed its modern-day application.
posted by skylar at 12:29 AM on February 13, 2002

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