Community Computer Network to Combat Food Crisis
Computer scientists have always been trying to take tech benefits to the masses, particularly to the underprivileged. In an initiative, technology company IBM has joined hands with University of Washington to address food crises using IBM’s World Community Grid “supercomputer”. It has launched on Thursday a new program to develop stronger strains of rice that could produce crops with larger and more nutritious yields.

The program aims to harness the unused and donated power from nearly one million individual PCs in a new initiative – “Nutritious Rice for the World” project – that will study rice at the atomic level and then combine it with traditional cross breeding techniques used by farmers. IBM believes that the project can be completed in less than two years as compared to over 200 years using more conventional computer systems.

Ultimately, this project, jumpstarted by a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, could enable rice-producing countries to become better adapted to future climate changes because they can quickly find the right plants for cross breeding, and create “super hybrids” that are more resistant to changing weather patterns.

This research is also important in the U.S. and other countries because the knowledge gained can be applied to other cereal crops such as corn, wheat, and barley.

World Community Grid, according to IBM, is fast approaching its own milestone, expecting to hit next week, as the grid reaches one million registered computers helping to advance scientific research. Each week, thousands of people sign on to this program that has helped several research projects on diseases like cancer and AIDS. The nutritious rice project is the latest to utilize the grid.

Want to participate? If you’ve a computer and Internet access you can be a part of this program. To donate unused computer time, individuals can register on and install a free, small, secure software program onto their computers. When computers are idle, data is requested from World Community Grid’s server. These computers then perform the computations, and send the results back to the server, prompting it for a new piece of work. A screen saver will tell individuals when their computers are being used.

IBM informs that World Community Grid is the largest public humanitarian grid in existence. It has over 380,000 members who represent more than 200 countries and links to nearly one million computers.



About Rakesh Raman

Have extensive editorial, content management, and integrated communications experience and have worked as a senior tech journalist, analyst, and columnist with different newspapers, magazines, and Web/online properties in India.

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