Foldit focuses on solving challenging biochemistry problems by building a symbiosis between computers and people. This project allows people with little prior experience to quickly develop biochemistry expertise through interaction with a video game. Players collectively solve three-dimensional puzzles that have direct implications for existing scientific problems, creating experts in protein structure prediction. This new collective intelligence has already led to four major published findings over the last year and a half.
The video game that Foldit has created is adaptable and develops highly-skilled problem solvers. Foldit demonstrates that it is possible to build collective intelligence from scratch in a short period of time. The Foldit project incentivizes learning and stretches the human brain—creating a new kind of hyper-learning that decades in a traditional education system could not impart. It is a free online game so problem-solving can occur round the clock—when the American team goes to sleep, the Australian team can pick up where they left off.
The Foldit project is solving previously unsolvable scientific problems. The video game has increased the world population of protein science experts by a factor of four in just two years. Results of the Foldit project will be made public so that the entire scientific community can make use of its findings. The principles discovered via Foldit can be applied to other problems, such as synthetic biology.