Simon Stiphanos – SkyNet: All the smarts, but no Terminator{2}

by Simon S

SkyNet is a new grid-computing initiative with the ultimate goal of finding extraterrestrial intelligence. The project aims to entice computer users into allowing the project to use their idle computing resource (like a PC that’s not in use) and internet bandwidth for processing through astronomical amounts of astronomical data.

“As we design, develop and switch on the next generation of radio telescopes, the supercomputing resources processing this deluge of data will be in increasingly high demand,” said Professor Peter Quinn, director of ICRAR in a statement.

My take:

Just like other projects that have come to take advantage of our idling computing power, SkyNet has come to realize that instead of running a large and expensive data center, it would be easier and more cost-efficient to outsource the effort. In my opinion, though, this project does not meet the requirements most people would expect for such a request- since, the process is effectively a donation of sorts. (Not to mention how disturbing the name SkyNet now is…)

Folding@Home, a successful grid-computing initiative headquartered in Stanford has the noble goal of trying to solve many of today’s disease that revolve around proteins and their complex folding patterns that make them unique. Since their initiative has the appeal of humanism and medical necessity, they’ve been very successful in many aspects. I don’t believe SkyNet will have the appeal it needs to make the project worthwhile.