I tend to adopt a very skeptical stance when it comes to projects involving ICOs, but as one of my few (and first) ERC20 token investments, Golem has always held a place in my heart. Its dedicated team are working hard to create a decentralised computing platform, where users can rent out their unused CPU/GPU cycles to users wishing to perform complex tasks, using the native token, GNT, as currency. As it stands, the first iteration (dubbed “Brass Golem”) will focus on CGI rendering.
I had the pleasure of Skyping with Julian Zawistowski recently, the founder of the project and an advisor for OmiseGo, to interview him on the latest developments.
MB: So let’s dive right in: what’s been happening on the development side?
JZ: We’ve spent a lot of time assessing our limitations, mainly because we’re at the bleeding edge of the technology and still trying to find out what we can and cannot do with the available resources. We will be releasing a new roadmap on Tuesday, as the initial one in the whitepaper has seen some significant delay.
MB: What can you tell me about this new roadmap?
JZ: As mentioned, we will be bringing it out on Tuesday. We’ll announce some other features then, but I can tell you that it will provide a much more specific plan − we will be rolling out a series of testnets for the Alpha, and releasing a new way to track our progress. We are a team that care greatly about transparency, and we’ve had some issues with the accuracy of GitHub’s progress tracker, so we also intend on using Trello for clearer communication on the development front as a more accurate visual representation.
MB: You’ve been open to collaboration with other projects before − any more you’d like to work with down the line?
JZ: I think that crypto, as a whole, should be more collaborative as a community. I like to think of startups using established technology as building on a plot of land. We don’t have that. We’re faced with a crater in place of that land, and we need to figure out how we’re going to fill it. It’s such a new area, and we all need to make sure that we’re getting the basement level right before any real progress can be made.
I like IPFS, and would like to see some sort of integration eventually, but we’d first like to get Brass released before focusing on such ventures.
MB: Are you at all worried about being a named dev and thus potentially being held legally liable for any illicit uses of Golem?
JZ: That’s always a risk with software. We are dedicated to making Golem safe for all users. And, in fact, one of the most important features of decentralized systems is censorship resistance. For good and for bad we believe this property is crucial for preserving our freedom and advancing technologies. Golem is open-source and publically auditable. We’d expect that this status would mitigate a large amount of that liability.
MB: One current aspect that some take issue with is the ability of a ‘renter’ to ‘peek’ at what it is that they are processing. On one hand, it makes sense that they should have the prerogative to ensure they’re not devoting resources to the rendering of blueprints for a superweapon, but it does exclude those wishing to compute sensitive data. It is a complicated issue to remedy, but do you think, in the future, that the data being computed could be encrypted to a degree to appeal to a wider market?
JZ: This is a great question. The goal of Golem is to calculate tasks as segments and that ensures that most of the data is hidden for a single user. Other layers of security sandboxing make it harder to be human readable. We believe that with professional providers on the network and a way to identify them (in the future), this problem will be similar to the confidentiality of public cloud services. It is also worth noting, that for many use cases, value (business or scientific) is generated by processing non-sensitive or public data.
MB: The theoretical applications for the network as it scales are truly limitless. Where do you see Golem in ten years? Do you see it replacing the centralised cloud-based systems like AWS that we have nowadays?
JZ: The dream is to have Golem operating on a system level − competing with legacy OS. In the shorter term, however, by the time we’ve released our final iteration, we hope to have a platform that can support applications from machine learning to the processing of huge amounts of data for scientific research.
Golem is aiming to be at the center of a paradigm shift whereby the entire IT infrastructure will be reorganised. That’s not to say it will replace legacy services like AWS or other centralised platforms. Rather, Golem and similar decentralised initiatives will help them evolve. I can imagine that these hubs currently interfacing directly with customers will one day be subsumed into a larger network and become backend (but still large) providers in a decentralised network.
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