Phylo: using collective intelligence to solve real problems

Students, Karykow and Roumanis, from McGill University, Montreal, have created an interactive game called Phylo that uses problem solving and genetic sequences from a variety of animals to find mutations that might be the cause for diseases. The sequences are coded using algorithms but user interactions can discover better sequences. Improved sequences are recorded by the program and used in future plays. The point of the game is to beat the computer. With each successful play, the database grows in knowledge and the information becomes more applicable to scientific discovery. The idea of turning the discovery process into a fun game takes the exhausting routine out of work and keeps the purpose. The capabilities for users from different geographical areas and knowledge to unite in a noble cause is just one of the possibilities that digital technologies have allowed. Phylo is an example of an interdisciplinary project. It combines the design of user interface, the real world material of genetic sequencing, and the noble goal of medicine. It also keeps our attention by challenging our problem solving skills, but is not too hard that it is a challenge not worth doing.