IT’S CALLED ZOONIVERSE — AND IT’S revolutionizing science as we know it.
Modern scientists (like the rest of us) live in an age of Big Data: zillions and zillions of units of information, too many for one person to effectively process. Enter Zooniverse, which for the past several years has been dragooning legions of interested volunteers to sift through hundreds of data-dumps in order to match patterns that a computer can’t — classifying galaxies, say, or rain-forest flowers, or a British census, or Beluga whales, or African wildlife, or other projects in such fields as climate science, history, biology, medicine, the arts, language and many more. These tasks are too intricate and sensitive for even the most advanced computers, yet can be done by most humans with a minimum of training.
“This research is made possible by volunteers — hundreds of thousands of people around the world who come together to assist professional researchers,” proclaims the website. “Our goal is to enable research that would not be possible, or practical, otherwise. Zooniverse research results in new discoveries, datasets useful to the wider research community, and many publications.”