By Roger Aitken for Forbes
Golem Network, the first decentralized global market for computing power, raised more than $8.6 million (m) in just nineteen minutes on Friday for its Golem Network Token (GNT) and in so doing became the third largest platform ICO (Initial Coin Offering) ever. Proceeds are being earmarked to advance the fintech’s ambitious objectives.
Acting and dubbed as an ‘Airbnb for computers’, Polish-based Golem Network is a peer-to-peer (P2P) network with no central server that allows both application owners and individual users (‘requestors’) to rent the resources of other users’ (‘providers’) machines, and be paid in cryptocurrency. Users are equally privileged under this P2p network.
Today, such computer resources are supplied by centralized cloud providers which, are constrained by closed networks, proprietary payment systems and hard-coded provisioning operations. The function of Golem as what might be viewed as “the backbone” of a decentralized market for computing power, could be considered both Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), as well as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).
As the third largest ICO for a platform behind Ethereum, a public blockchain-based distributed computing platform ($18m in 42 days) and Waves, a blockchain-powered tokens platform ($16m in 30 days), Golem claims it “substantially lowers” the price of computations to make applications more accessible to everyone. These apps span CGI rendering, which is said to be the first illustrative case of real Golem usage, as well as scientific calculation and machine learning.
The prices are expected to be low as the market will be very close to what it is characterized as “textbook perfect competition” concept. The product (compute) is homogenous, the information for both requester and provider is almost complete, all requestors and providers have very small market share and have negligible impact on overall prices, and barriers to entry and exit are very low.
In the case of CGI rendering, Golem explains that rather than using costly cloud-based services or waiting for one’s own machine to complete the task in hand, “CGI artists can now rent compute resources from other users to render an image quickly.” The payment from a requestor is sent directly to providers who make their resources available.
The Golem Network Token forms a crucial element of the startup’s network, and is designed to ensure flexibility and control over the future evolution of the project with a plan in place. The alpha version of Golem (codename ‘Brass Golem’) was launched in August 2016 was to be focused on CGI rendering in Blender (blender.org) and is mainly proof-of-concept.
The Way Ahead
Other Golems are also referred to in the roadmap. Clay Golem, which the founders say should be delivered within 15 months after the end of crowdfunding period, introduces the Task API and the Application Registry. Then there is Stone Golem, which is expected within 24 months after the crowdfund, and Iron Golem in 48 months’ time. And, for the historians out there ‘Golem’ is a creature being from Jewish folklore that is created entirely from inanimate matter – specifically clay or mud.
The Golem network is a decentralized ecosystem deploying the combined power of users’ machines and dedicated software delivery to provide the resources for completing any computing task. Providing what are described as flexible tools for developers to distribute and monetize their software, Golem touts that it is helping create the first “worldwide supercomputer.”
The team behind Golem is headed up by Julian Zawistowski, CEO and founder based in Warsaw, along with co-founder and CTO Piotr Janiukand other co-founders Andrzej Regulski (COO) and Aleksandra Skrzypczak. Paweł Bylica is the lead Ethereum engineer in the team.
Following the first release version of Golem, GNT will be given a variety of functions in the network. Payments between requesters and providers of computing resource usage and remuneration for software developers, will be conducted exclusively in GNT.
Once the Application Registry and Transaction Framework are implemented, GNT will also be required for other interactions with Golem, such as submitting deposits by providers and software developers or participation in the process of software validation and certification.
Any interested party is free to create and deploy software to the Golem network by publishing it to the Application Registry. Together with the Transaction Framework, developers can also extend and customize the payment mechanism resulting in unique mechanisms for monetizing software.
How Golem Works & Why Use It?
Specifically, the Golem transaction system matches providers and requestors, taking into account prices, reputations and machines’ performances. Resources (i.e. files) needed for computation are sent to provider’s machine. Then after a computation provider’s app sends back results to the requestor’s app, if result passes verification process the provider is paid. But if someone tries to cheat, for instance sends bad results or does not pay, they will lose reputation and will not be chosen again for computation.
But why you might ask should people use Golem. In short, it can be used by everyone who owns a computer. But how one uses Golem rather depends on what your computer is used for. If you are an average user, you are probably a provider only. Golem gives your computer work to do when it is not being used and can earn money in this way, with money coming from requestors who pay providers for using their machines.
Should you require more computing time than you have on your machine, perhaps because you are CGI professional, scientist, financial market tycoon, cryptocurrency miner or anyone else fitting the range of Golem’s use cases, then you use Golem as the requestor.
The basic mechanics involve submitting your task to the network, and once it is completed you pay the providers for their machines time. On top of that, should there be a task you want to perform that requires proprietary software, this can be arranged through the store.
And, if you are owner of open source or proprietary software (e.g. rendering engine, analytical packages, trading robots, specialized scientific packages), you could use Golem as a distribution channel and – if you opt to charge for use – as a marketplace.
Core to Golem’s built-in feature set is a dedicated Ethereum-based transaction system, which enables direct payments between requestors, providers and software developers. Golem are building the transaction framework on top of Ethereum as it provides expressive power, which is much needed when implementing advanced, trustless schemes.
A New Internet Of Tomorrow?
Golem believes that the future Internet will be a “truly decentralized” network that enables users to securely and directly exchange content, without sharing it with corporations or other middlemen. As such they will be used not only to compute specific tasks, but also to bulk-rent machines in order to perform operations within a self-organizing network.
As to its long-term potential and future, the founders imagine Golem primarily as a platform for microservices, allowing users to run both small (e.g. a note-taking app) and large (e.g. a streaming service) applications in a completely decentralized way. It’s an ambitious vision and one that will require other technologies becoming available for fulfil it.
First appeared at Forbes