Feel like helping people but don’t have the time, money, or energy? Well, there’s an app for that. Or rather, there are several. From something as simple as opening a tab to playing some games, here’s how to help.
For several of these, all you need to do is install an app or open a tab. The app or tab will then access the unused processing power of your computer and use it to run calculations. It then shares these with millions of other such computers via the internet. The result is a virtual supercomputer for scientists to run complex calculations.
Some of these projects are not as passive. They’re part of a movement called Citizen Science, where you help scientists by doing innocuous things. For example, something as simple as playing a game called FoldIt to resolve the structure of proteins.
Choose whatever fits your life better. Either way, make sure you participate. After all, it takes almost no effort from you after the first installation.
1. Tabs Against Malaria (Web): Open a Tab, Save a Life
In 2015, an estimated 292,000 African children under five died due to Malaria. That’s an incredible number. While it isn’t a big problem in developed nations, malaria is the killer disease the rest of the world needs to fight. And you can help by opening a tab.
Open Tabs Against Malaria (TAM) and leave that tab as it is. In fact, pin the tab so you don’t accidentally close it. Unblock it from any ad-blocker you might be using. And then forget about it. The tab will run in the background without bothering you.
TAM uses Coinhive to mine cryptocurrency using your CPU. The longer you keep it open, the more currency it mines. The money is donated to the Against Malaria Foundation, a worldwide non-profit agency.
2. GiveBack (Web, Chrome): Search Google, Save Forests, and Wildlife
GiveBack is a novel twist on how a charitable organization can seamlessly be a part of your daily use. It’s both a website as well as a Chrome extension, and you can use it either way.
The website acts as a search engine “front” for Google. Whatever you search for it will take you to Google search results. For Google fans, this is a better approach than using Google alternatives like Ecosia. And the end goal is the same too.
GiveBack uses the money it makes off your searches and ads to invest in wildlife and forest conservation. Over time, the charity plans to expand its scope, but for now, if you care about the planet, switch to GiveBack.
3. DreamLab (Android): Power Cancer Research While You Sleep
Can an app help cancer research while you sleep? Cellular giant Vodafone partnered with Australian cancer research institute Garvan to make this. DreamLab uses your phone’s processing power while you sleep to solve complex computations. These computations otherwise need a supercomputer, and are critical for cancer research.
Here’s how it works. When you sleep, you usually plug your phone to charge, right? Well, once it’s charged and still plugged, the DreamLab app will download a small cancer research problem from Garvan. Your phone will solve this problem and send it back to Garvan’s lab. With millions of such phones, Garvan has a virtual supercomputer to speed up cancer research.
Don’t worry about data costs either. You can set how much data it can use, and how much DreamLab can use on Wi-Fi. It’s one of the easiest ways to be charitable. If there’s one problem with the app, it’s that DreamLab is only available on Android.
Download: DreamLab for Android (Free)
4. The Big List of BOINC Projects (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android)
BOINC is the largest infrastructure for projects that use idle computer CPUs to help science. It stands for the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, and is available on all platforms except iOS.
There are two ways you can participate in BOINC. First, you can download the BOINC app which frees you from making a choice about which cause to help. Second, you can choose the battle you want to fight. That’s where the big list of BOINC projects comes in.
The table of projects will show you which institution is running the research, what its aims are, and which platforms it supports. It’s a good way to discover the less popular projects. Everyone knows about SETI@Home and its quest to find alien life. But how about helping something smaller like the Quake Catcher Network to predict earthquakes?
Whatever you choose, there are no wrong answers. You’re going to have a big impact on scientific research.
5. EyeWire (Web): A Game to Map the Brain
A quick five-minute break at work can help scientists unlock the mysteries of the human brain. And the best part? It’s a game, so you’re still having fun.
EyeWire is a project o map the brain so understand how it works. The human brain contains 80 billion neurons, connected through 10 trillion synapses. But these circuits are uncharted. That’s where you come in.
As the video above shows, you don’t need any scientific background or understanding to play this. It’s more like an adult’s version of a coloring game, which can be stress-busting.
The more you play it, the more you’ll like it. In fact, the minute you figure out how to sync moving the left cube and coloring the neurons in the right, you’ll want more and more difficult projects.
How to Be Charitable Online
These effortless or fun activities are just the first taste of being a charitable person online. You can even upgrade your help by playing games, browsing the web, and more. And of course, there are simple donations you can make at any time.
How do you try to be charitable online? Do you believe in being actively helpful once in a while, or passively helping all the time like these apps let you?
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