Golem, a decentralised application dubbed the AirBnB for computers, went live on the Ethereum mainnet earlier this week. Golem enables individuals to connect their unused computers to a central network that rewards them in Golem Network Tokens (GNT).
The project was one of the first high-profile initial coin offerings (ICOs) on the Ethereum network. In 2016, Golem managed to collect 820,000 ether (ETH) in just eight minutes. At the time ETH was trading at just $8; it is now worth roughly $500, down from highs of $1,400 in January.
The long wait time – as well as ETH’s spectacular price run – between the 2016 ICO and last Wednesday naturally irked some investors, many of whom wondered whether the project was, in fact, a “pump and dump”. Nevertheless, Golem has delivered and the Golem Brass Beta is now live.
What Does the Beta Do?
The Golem Brass Beta is basically intended to test whether the underlying technology will work in real-market conditions. The beta is also testing Golem’s economic assumptions, primarily regarding energy consumption and whether providers of computing power are sufficiently rewarded in GNT.
Golem’s co-founder and CTO, Piotr Janiuk said:
“The release is there to prove to us and everyone that we can actually deliver something that can run on mainnet and that’s really usable. And well, it is.”
The current iteration enables third-party computers to rent unused computational power via an open-source computer-generated imagery (CGI) application called Blender. Golem is linked to Blender through an interface that reimburses Golem users for their computational power with GNT.
What Is the Endgame?
Essentially, Golem is building a supercomputer made up of the world’s unused computing power; in theory, you could be monetising your computer while updating your Facebook privacy settings or whatever other pressing task commands your attention.
The Golem network basically operates to connect “providers” of computational power to “requestors”, who rent that power for computationally intensive work. This work is doled out to providers in small chunks called “subtasks” that together form a full computational model that can be used by the requestor. The provider is then rewarded in GNT for each successfully completed subtask.
There are, of course, some serious security issues associated with lending out your computer to third parties. Although Golem will run in a sandbox, meaning that subtasks cannot access other areas of the computer, there is always a risk that a particular application will break down the walls of the sandbox.
However, the Golem team have prepared for this: alongside providers and requestors, there are also authors and validators. Authors create applications that providers run, while validators either whitelist or blacklist applications. This simple system enables providers of computer power to have a high degree of surety that the subtasks that they run are derived from trustworthy applications.
Although Golem currently operates solely through Blender for CGI rendering, the team behind the project intend it to expand its usage to include artificial intelligence testing, which has a much larger market that is dominated by the likes of Google, Baidu and Tencent.
Depending on the success of the Golem Brass Beta, consumers might well be set to enjoy a new way of making a passive income that actually supports enterprise by offering cheap computing power. Additionally, GNT saw a 60% price jump yesterday that suggests users have taken kindly to release.