Crowdsourcing the Hunt for Humans and Aliens
Two unrelated stories this morning that we’d like to relate:
1. The US State Department is running a competition at the end of the month called Tag Challenge. The social game involves participants tracking “suspects” in five different cities in North America and Europe with the only clue being the person’s mug shot. Teams will have a day to find the suspect and the goal is to see how social media and crowdsourcing help and enable law enforcement to capture fugitives. Big Brother is offering the winning team $5,000. Wired has the story here.
2. The Search For Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has launched a Web site to crowdsource its hunt for alien life. For a long time now people have been able to install an app on their computers that donates unused processing power to help sift through SETI data but now they want actual human intelligence and analysis involved.
Via the BBC:
The project is being run by Dr Jillian Tarter, winner of the TED Prize in 2009 and director of the Seti Institute’s Center for Seti Research.
She has devoted her career to hunting for signs of sentient beings elsewhere.
She hopes Seti Live will help build upon the community of scientists and technologists already involved in the search.
"There are frequencies that our automated signal detection systems now ignore, because there are too many signals there," she said.
"Most are created by Earth’s communication and entertainment technologies, but buried within this noise there may be a signal from a distant technology.
"I’m hoping that an army of volunteers can help us deal with these crowded frequency bands that confuse our machines. By doing this in real time, we will have an opportunity to follow up immediately on what our volunteers discover."
Image: Screenshot from the State Department’s Tag Challenge Web site.