A power greater than our PCs.
The idea of pooled computing has been around for many years. It doesn't fit Surowiecki's
four characteristics, but nobody ever intended that it should. The objective here,
rather than intelligence, is raw computing power. Seti@home
was one of the first of these (I was running it back in 1999). It asked me to
allow my computer to be used (when I wasn't using it) to process signals received
on earth via radio telescopes. The hope is that among these signals are strings
of information that could only be sent by intelligent beings. It's a needle in
a haystack sort of task and demands lots of computing hours, but if I leave my
PC on while I'm doing something else, it can process a small part of the job.
If thousands of others do the same, maybe that needle, if it's there, can be found.
Similar projects - for finding prime numbers and more - were once rather widely
in use. The fact that their popularity seems to have waned perhaps suggests that
we still want the collective brain, but don't necessarily want to use it.
Go to: The emergence of a higher(?) intelligence,
Go to: Are crowds really that smart?