Today EyeWire Founder Sebastian Seung is in Seoul, Korea, signing a Memorandum of Understanding for a new partnership between EyeWire and Korea Telecom (KT).
Sebastian prepared the following summary of a new scope of EyeWire:
KT, the leading telecommunications company in South Korea, and EyeWire, the world’s first game to map the brain, are announcing a partnership called “Countdown to Neuropia.” Dr. Chang-kyu Hwang, Chairman and CEO of KT, and Dr. Sebastian Seung, founder of EyeWire, will meet in Seoul today to sign a memorandum of understanding concerning the Countdown, which is scheduled to commence in September 2014. Under the terms of the agreement, KT will help mobilize the Korean public and the world to join EyeWire and complete the Countdown.
As a part of this partnership, EyeWire will internationalize, beginning with Korean. The EyeWire Translation project will crowdsource the game so that anyone, anywhere with an internet connection, regardless of the language he or she speaks, can play EyeWire and contribute to neuroscience.
The scientific goal is to determine the structures of 350 neurons in a small patch of the retina. The Countdown is expected to discover new types of retinal neuron. Neuroscientists estimate that 100 types of retinal neuron exist, but many are still unknown. Neuron types are important for understanding how the brain works, characterizing brain diseases in which certain types of neurons are affected, and for targeting specific neuron types in gene therapies.
The neurons will be reconstructed by volunteers at the EyeWire site, which resembles a 3D coloring book with pages that are high resolution images of a retina. By coloring the images, volunteers trace the branches of neurons through the images. The Countdown is scheduled to commence in September 2014, and is expected to finish within a year. The more people who participate, the faster the Countdown will be completed.
Dr. Chang-Kyu Hwang is Chairman and CEO of KT, formerly known as Korea Telecom. Before joining KT, Dr. Hwang was President and CEO of Samsung Semiconductor, which he drove to world leadership in memory chips, and served as National Chief Technology Officer of Korea. He was chosen as “25 Stars of Asia” by Businessweek, “One of the Ten Big Thinkers” by Newsweek, and one of “Top Executives of 2005″ by Asiamoney.
KT Corporation, formerly Korea Telecom, provides wired and wireless telecommunications to South Korea. It has the largest share of the local telephone and high-speed internet markets, and was the first carrier to introduce the Apple iPhone to South Korea.
Dr. Sebastian Seung is Professor at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and Computer Science Department. He is also President of WiredDifferently, a non-profit organization that supports EyeWire and other “citizen neuroscience” projects. His book Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes Us Who We Are was chosen as Top Ten Nonfiction of 2012 by the Wall Street Journal.
EyeWire was founded by Dr. Seung in 2012, when he was Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since then, EyeWire has registered over 150,000 members from 100 countries. The site is based on images of a mouse retina that were acquired in the lab of Winfried Denk at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research. EyeWire members coauthored a paper published in the scientific journal Nature in May 2014.
Sebastian Seung <sseung at princeton.edu>, Scientific Director
Amy Robinson <neurons at mit.edu>, Creative Director