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MILE Activist Contest II Entry: Life-Extension Game Developers’ Matching Fund – Post by G. Stolyarov II

MILE Activist Contest II Entry: Life-Extension Game Developers’ Matching Fund – Post by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
Gennady Stolyarov II
August 18, 2014

This is Mr. Stolyarov’s entry into the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension (MILE) Activist Contest II.

Computer games are a powerful way to spread the message of indefinite life extension to a new demographic. By engaging the players through art, concepts, and gameplay elements expressing the feasibility and desirability of indefinite lifespans, computer games can attract interest in life-extension activism that will be perceived as leisure and entertainment by those who engage in it.

If I had $5,000 to devote to raising awareness about people, projects, and organizations wording toward indefinite life extension, I would create a matching fund for fundraising projects pertaining to life-extension-themed computer games currently in development. This Life-Extension Game Developers’ Matching Fund (LEGDMF) would match, dollar for dollar, the funds raised via Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and other crowdfunding platforms by game developers whose works would meet the following criteria:

(i) The game should promote and express the message of indefinite life extension in a favorable way.

(ii) The game should enable the player to find out about some of the people, projects, and organizations working toward indefinite life extension.

(iii) An alpha, beta, or demo version of the game should exist and be playable by the general public.

(iv) The game developers must be willing to publicly disclose the amount of funds raised, either through a fundraising platform or through information they post directly on a publicly viewable website.

A great example of a life-extension-themed game, whose gameplay also deeply integrates the pursuit of longevity escape velocity, is LEV: The Game , which is currently in the midst of an Indiegogo fundraiser. (For more details, read my recent article about LEV: The Game.) LEV: The Game would be one of the efforts, but not necessarily the only effort, which could be greatly aided by the LEGDMF.

The purpose of a matching fund is to bring in additional resources by enabling any donor to leverage the impact of his or her contribution. Instead of selecting eligible games through a contest where a panel of judges or the contest organizer(s) would decide upon the winning entries, a matching fund enables donors from the general public to vote with their money and helps these votes to matter more in influencing real-world outcomes. The LEGDMF would continue to match contributions to eligible game-development projects, dollar for dollar, until the $5,000 fund is exhausted.

An advantageous feature of the LEGDMF would be that all the money could be given directly to eligible game-development projects. Fundraising platforms would collect fees ranging from 4% to 9% of the funds donated, and payment platforms – such as PayPal or payment processors employed by banks – would collect additional fees. However, it would be unlikely that the total fees would exceed 15% of the funds contributed, meaning that more than $4,250 (85% of $5,000) would substantively benefit game developers in their efforts to create engaging, immersive, and entertaining portrayals of the life-extension message.

Success for the LEGDMF would be measured by the ability to successfully fund the creation of a life-extension-themed game (or even multiple games) and, ultimately, by the release of such a game to the general public and the amount of engagement (number of plays or number of downloads) that the game would receive. A nearer-term measure of success would be the ability to attract sufficient interest in life-extension-themed games as to raise $5,000 in independent contributions from the general public, which would exhaust the LEGDMF through matching donations – leading to a total of $10,000 in funds invested in this worthwhile goal of informing new demographics about life extension through an exciting and innovative medium.

The demographics that could potentially be attracted by life-extension-themed computer games would include anybody who plays computer games for entertainment. Gamers come in all ages, but there are many children and teenagers among them, who could become vital members of the next generation of scientists, technologists, philosophers, and activists working in pursuit of indefinite longevity. These individuals would discover the life-extension-games once they are released on various online sites. Depending on the game, these could be flash-game sites that allow the games to be played for free, or these could be sites offering files for download. While no game can guarantee a specific number of players, games that are designed well and have an innovative premise would attract a large user base through the appeal of the gameplay itself. A game that catches on and achieves a steady following could even revolutionize the public perception of indefinite life extension and bring the idea of pursuit indefinite lifespans into the cultural mainstream.

Computer Games, Distributed Computing, and Life Extension – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Computer Games, Distributed Computing, and Life Extension – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Imagine if it were possible to help cure disease and lengthen human lifespans simply by playing one’s computer games of choice. Here, Mr. Stolyarov describes a concept for doing just that, and he welcomes efforts from any of you to help bring it about.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational discourse on this issue.

Support these video-creation efforts by donating here and here.

– “Computer Games, Distributed Computing, and Life Extension” – Article by G. Stolyarov II – The Rational Argumentator
Article and discussion on
Mr. Stolyarov’s Page of Distributed Computing Statistics
World Community Grid
Human Proteome Folding
Help Conquer Cancer
– “Public Solves Protein Structure” – Jef Akst – The Scientist – September 18, 2011
– “ALS Cause and Protein-Folding Prediction – Thoughts on Two Impressive Scientific Discoveries ” – Video by G. Stolyarov II – September 20, 2011

Computer Games, Distributed Computing, and Life Extension – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Computer Games, Distributed Computing, and Life Extension – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
February 26, 2013

Imagine if it were possible to help cure disease and lengthen human lifespans simply by playing one’s computer games of choice. Here, I describe a concept for doing just that, and I welcome efforts from any readers to help bring it about.

To make a practical, concrete difference in accelerating the advent of radical human life extension, one of the most powerful contributions a layman (non-biologist, non-doctor, non-engineer) can make is to donate idle computer time to distributed computing projects focused on biomedical research. Immensely promising distributed computing endeavors include Rosetta@home, Folding@home, and World Community Grid’s Human Proteome Folding and Help Conquer Cancer projects.  I am a major participant in many of these projects. (I rank in the 98.6th percentile for all distributed computing users by total credit and in the 99.5th percentile by recent average credit.) My computer runs these projects almost nonstop, and I have even made several upgrades, partly to enhance my contribution.  Distributed computing enables scientific research to occur at rates and scales previously inconceivable. Researchers utilize thousands of computers worldwide to perform incredible numbers of complex calculations that they could not have processed in their labs alone.

Billions of computers now exist, and it seems so easy to just download a distributed computing client and let it run while the computer is idle. The computer owner does not need to be technically knowledgeable about the field of research in order to make a positive and direct contribution. Yet participation in distributed computing projects is still orders of magnitude below where it should be. For instance, as of February 23, 2013, Folding@home has 1,674,431 all-time donors of computer resources; the front page suggests that 167,833 computers are currently active in the project. Rosetta@home has 355,661 total donors, while World Community Grid has 401,270. The number of people worldwide who care about advancing medical research is surely far larger than this.

 Yet even an easy task like installing a distributed computing client may be beyond the comfort zone of many people with busy, often hectic, lives. If these people take time out of their day for activities not related to their primary occupations, they will do so because they find those activities entertaining, relaxing, or both. Computer games are an immensely popular example; they directly engage hundreds of millions of people worldwide for hundreds of billions of hours every year. If this level of contribution were made to distributed computing projects, we would see the pace of research accelerate tenfold or more.

There is already one game, FoldIt, that attempts to utilize human creativity to directly address one challenge related to life extension: the prediction of protein-folding configurations. FoldIt’s users have even had some success where computer algorithms have not. However, FoldIt’s gameplay is not for everyone, just like any particular genre of computer game will attract some enthusiastic users but will leave others indifferent.

To radically increase the use of distributed computing, I recommend a new approach: the design of computer games that automatically run distributed computing projects in the background when they are played. Players would not need to acquire the game with the purpose of contributing to research projects; their primary motivation should be to enjoy the game. However, one of the marketing points in the game’s favor could be that it would enable people to make a meaningful contribution to research while they enjoyed themselves. Such games would not need to be related to the subject of the research at all; they could be about absolutely anything, and there could be numerous games of this sort made to appeal to a wide variety of consumer demographics. Indeed, creators of existing games could work on ways to link them to distributed computing clients and use this to emphasize their companies’ philanthropic side.

Each game could include an option to activate the distributed computing client even if the game is not being played. In this way, players who come to enjoy their participation in distributed computing projects could extend that participation beyond their gaming sessions. On the other hand, a lot of players would acquire the game just to play it, while being only peripherally aware of the distributed computing aspect. However, their consent to the distributed computing would be a part of the usage agreement associated with the game. They would contribute to important biomedical research by default, just like all of us contribute to the carbon dioxide available to the Earth’s plants simply by exhaling.

I am not a programmer myself, but I strongly encourage any programmer and/or game developer reading this article to develop this proposed connection between any game and a distributed computing project. This concept should be in the public domain, and, to the extent this is possible under current law, I hereby release any original ideas or concepts in this article into the public domain in full. I seek no monetary profit or even credit from such undertakings (though I would be extremely happy to be informed of efforts to implement them). I will benefit considerably if the implementation of this idea radically accelerates life-extension research, and this benefit would certainly be enough for me.  It is in my best interest for numerous parallel, competing, or collaborative efforts to arise in this area, and for many people to try variations on this idea.

I also welcome input from those who can anticipate some of the technical details and challenges of developing games of this sort. For instance, I would be interested in insights regarding the potential ease or difficulty of integrating a distributed computing client with another program. At present, I anticipate that most of the challenges would be technical, rather than legal, since BOINC, one of the most popular clients, is free software released under a GNU Lesser General Public License. My strong recommendation is for any efforts in this area to have an open-source character, welcoming contributions from all parties in order to make the vast benefits of this project realizable. At least some of the games created as a result could be made freely downloadable, so as to entice more people into obtaining them with nothing to lose.

The idea is now out there. I urge you to help make it happen in any way you are able.