COMP: Computational economy (was: "MIPsucking"...)

Alexander Chislenko (
Thu, 13 Feb 1997 16:04:07 -0500

At 11:44 AM 2/13/97 -0800, Hara Ra <> wrote:

>When you park your car, will you let the local taxi company use it
>while you have your cuppa java??

I think it all depends on the security of the application.
We all allow third parties (banks, mutual funds, etc.) to play
with our money while we are not using it, and find it both
more profitable and safer than just sitting on cash.

Eugene Leitl suggested that charging for browsing and payments
for usage of resources should be connected only thru the user's
wallet, and I agree with it. So there can be a few sites that can
distribute the code - you connect to them before, during, or after
other sessions, and your machine executes code while on-line, or not.
The payments can be different - they can go to your bank account, or
you get NetCredits for buying things online, or you get enrolled into
a lottery with *good* chances to win a new super-PC or a cash prize.
Your machine can develop Alife critters, or improve chess algorithms.
If you work in your office on some low-security stuff, like designing
brochures or proof-reading students' homework, you will probably not
lose much by letting it evolve some cellular automata when you are not
using the machine anyway, and periodically communicate the results
back to the server (forget JavaScripts). In return, you will get enough
payments to offset your offline bills, and occasionally buy a new
peripheral for your computer. Or, if you want, you can donate all the
profits to the Libertarian party. Besides, if your PC evolves something
interesting, your face may appear in some magazine.

Whether Hara Ra is right considering this a security breach, is actually
beside the point, just as opinions of many people on using Netscape cookies
or lending their possessions to others. The question is, will *some* people
trust the system enough to decide that the benefits are worth the risks?
I'd say there will be such people.

Now, if we accept very conservative estimates of the number of such people and
the utility of their computers - at 10% of PCs(that's 10 million PCs) and $10
a month, we have a billion dollar a year market. That seems attractive enough
to develop the system, resolve many security issues and prepare the market for
expansion, by an order of magnitude - or two.

An interesting question is how the government can tax your earnings.
Deducting them from the price of PC ownership seems too much hassle -
then every computer owner would be registered as a small entrepreneur.

If you tax only big companies, and only at a point of converting
NetCredits into conventional currency, then we have a huge liquid market
of new currency that has never been taxed. Your earn it on-line, spend
it on-line, and accumulate it online. It is possible, of course, to
micro-tax micro-transactions, but then the government will have to write
efficient taxing agent software, and that will probably not happen very soon.

Alexander Chislenko Home page: <>
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