Like the prefrontal neocortex of a two-year-old, the world is wiring up. A digital multiverse is on the horizon. Virtual worlds fueled with data grow like hungry bacteria on a nutrient-packed agar plate. In these worlds, we simulate the molecular machines of life: how proteins fold, how ion channels open and close, how lipid bilayers bend and bud, and how drugs dock to proteins — bit by bit, atom by atom — we gain deeper insights into nature’s clockwork.
Across the digital horizon, gamer-scientists log in to EteRNA and Foldit, where, through creative learning and competitive puzzle solving, emulate complex biophysical processes in silica. Machine learners then consume this gamer-curated data and turn it into knowledge for smarter simulations — all in the name of the war on disease. If the past is any indication of the future, there will come a day when almost all knowledge discovery occurs in the virtual cosmos.
Video games are irresistible oases of the adjacent possible, restricted only by the imaginations of their creators. Game designers perfect their craft through a delicate balance of storytelling, competitive interactions, and reward systems that install a sense of achievement and a desire to return.
Now imagine this: blockbuster free-to-play titles with quintessential game elements engineered to make learning addictive. In this adjacent future, the objective is purpose-driven-learning. The medium is an immersive open-source arena where players and their avatars compete to complete in-game assignments, quizzes, quests, and puzzles for digital rewards with real-world consequences ranging from drug discovery to technical skill acquisition to new machine learners.
When designed successfully, the virtual oasis will attract millions, eventually engulfing academic courses, entire curricula, and research programmes. The data generated by such an exotic world — millions of minds collectively learning — is like mana to the gods: the superfood for machine-learning-guided simulations and the gateway to the Machine Mind. In this beautiful new world, the Machine Mind leads the war on disease, inventing new vaccines, drugs, and proteins previously inaccessible by machine learners, simulations, and humans alike.
From applied mathematics to biophysics to computer science to computational biology to machine-learning to molecular biology to game design to learning science to distance education — this audacious vision is antidisciplinary. In this adjacent future, the disciplines and their respective fields connect like the vasculature of a leaf and exchange ideas and methodologies like countries and their providences exchange goods and services.
The Machine Mind is much more than a legendary weapon for the war on disease — it marks the beginning of something entirely new — a modern Age of Wonder where almost all knowledge discovery and dissemination occur in the virtual cosmos. From continent to continent, country to country, and neighborhood to neighborhood, the minds of the world will participate in a global initiative to improve the collective (and individual) quality of life — and, in the process, summon the Machine Mind.