How The Internet of Everything will Cure Cancer

April 21, 2014 - 7 Comments


I recently stumbled upon a mobile app that will utilize the compute power of your mobile phone, while you are sleeping to decrypt protein sequences for cancer research. Even though utilizing an idle computer CPU for research isn’t something new, it caught my attention for the fact that it has now evolved to a mobile device.

We often overlook the compute power and technical maturity of mobile phones in today’s world. Now that the new technical wave known as the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming more of a reality we must always keep in mind the possibilities of utilizing that technical power for the greater good.

The IoT brings compute power to devices we never imagined would ever have technical guts; such as a street light. With just a single street lamp we can benefit with things like improved awareness; utilizing cameras or sensors to detect data within proximity. Safety is increased as lighting can be automatically increased when people are detected or decreased during periods of inactivity. We can also realize energy efficiency as street lights become smarter.

So how does a street light and the IoT cure cancer? It doesn’t…

The IoT and a street lamp lack the human element, which is a key element in the Internet of Everything (IoE). The street light is programmed to provide safety and at the same time stay energy efficient. Now imagine that we add the human element and sacrifice a day of energy efficiency a week to an army of smart street lights. Each light would be capable of comparing several sets of cancer protein data while normally sitting idle.

I’ve only used street lamps as an example but as all of our household devices become smarter, we can just as easily designate all of the idle processing power in our homes for cancer research while we sleep. We will soon see a day where we no longer donate money to cancer research but instead donate idle CPU cycles. Well until then, I will download this mobile app and get a good night’s sleep while my phone helps to cure cancer.

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  1. Very insightful article. With SETI and Folding at home, we have been using distributed computing for a very long time. With the Quad core mobile phones and other devices the idea is to squeeze more horsepower into our hands. However when designing embedded systems it is often best practice to provide the barest of specifications to meet the needs of the task. This is usually a cost cutting measure. Often these devices are task built, and unable to do anything else.

    Do you forsee a future where embedded device standards are uniform enough for for us to be able to donate our spare clock cycles?

    It seems to me that costs and personal greed will win out. However, you can have all my spare clock cycles, I’m all in for a better tomorrow.

    • Great point Will! I do foresee a future where we will be able to donate spare clock cycles. Even if embedded device standards are not uniform I still think software can be designed to better utilize the hardware it sits on. Infrastructure owners will ultimately have to make the call on whether or not to donate the unused CPU cycles.

  2. Thank you Taylor, and Brian it is generally accepted that damage to DNA is necessary for cancer to develop. However, radiofrequency energy, unlike ionizing radiation, does not cause DNA damage in cells, and it has not been found to cause cancer.

    • Rob,

      Can you direct readers to unbiased evidence (that is, from independently-funded study) that there is no (zero) health risk associated with microwave radiation generated by smart meters.
      Legitimate queries should be welcomed, and answered fully.

      With reference to the following (for example)..

      .. I ask again, what is Cisco’s active strategy to ensure our homes do not become bathed in microwave energy resulting in occupants’ ill-health (including cancer)?

      Best Regards,

  3. This is a great way to use technology! Brian it sounds that you are implying that the IoE is a wireless technology when in fact connections can be made in a number of ways. If you have a fear of microwaves you can google how to construct a foil helmet.

  4. What is Cisco’s active strategy to ensure our homes do not become bathed in microwave energy resulting in occupants’ ill-health (including cancer).

    Also note that quality of sleep is diminished by broadcast wireless/microwave signals commonly generated by mobile devices when not in airplane mode.