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High-tech philanthropy

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Businesses and individuals now have the option of donating their computers’ unused processing time to combat global problems like AIDS/HIV, cancer and forecasting of natural disasters.

IBM is teaming up with groups like the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic to create the World Community Grid, a project that will harness unused computing power throughout the world and apply it to critical humanitarian research.

By combining the power of millions of personal computers, IBM says, it can “create a giant ‘virtual’ system” that can tackle problems like understanding the genetic codes underlying diseases like Alzheimer’s faster than can be done with conventional technology.

The company says it expects millions of computer users worldwide to take advantage of this new form of giving by donating time their computers are idle.

The first project to use the technology aims to identify critical human proteins to learn more about causes and cures for diseases like tuberculosis.

IBM says anyone can volunteer by downloading free software and registering their computer at www.worldcommunitygrid.org.

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