Brussels / 30 & 31 January 2016


Citizen science 2.0

Building a quantum computer

Science at home aims at involving citizens in the world of science. We are building a quantum computer, and invite the general public to help us, by playing our games. In that respect, We are a citizen science project. We are also working on initiatives that open some of the data we are gathering, and provide tools for citizens to perform their own scientific tasks on the data: formulate hypotheses, test correlations, and hopefully gain new insights. We call this citizen science 2.0. I will describe the goals and vision of the Science at home project, the games we make, the data we gather, and the software we use.

In the Science at home project, we are building a quantum computer. This task involves a lot of very difficult optimisation problems in quantum physics, that we can only partially solve with AI and other traditional optimisation techniques. We have managed to express the problems as casual video games, playable by people with no knowledge of quantum physics. Now, with a team of student developers, scientists and game developers, we are working on making these games as fun and engaging as possible. We have found that the solutions created by the players, combined with solutions found by various optimisation techniques are better than what optimisation techniques can produce alone.

We have found that this massive parallelisation of problem solving, massively making use of many, many human minds combined produce impressive results. We believe there is a huge potential in this, also beyond quantum physics, and we want to tap into that. Our approach is to make our scientific games as engaging and fun as possible, and to make it very clear and very visible for the players how much they contribute, and how important their contributions are to our work. But this is still only citizen science in its infancy: We are asking our game players to help us with our research, and we're gamifying that help as best we can. We want to take an extra step, and open more of our data for the end-users and invite them to formulate their own theories. We want to provide gamified research tools for the end users to use to formulate and test their own hypotheses, maybe even set up their own experiments. We call this Citizen science 2.0: Where the citizen graduates from research assistant, to researcher. My talk will introduce the science at home project overall, and discuss some of our future plans.


Lars Kroll