Re: Vastmind: Distributed Computing

From: Emlyn (onetel) (
Date: Wed Jul 19 2000 - 19:36:04 MDT

Awesome. I'll check it out

Some questions:
    - Why the "modems need not apply" stuff? If you've got hefty comms
requirements, that's going to cost your nodes a lot of money.
    - It looks like you allow C & Java programs to run at the nodes (ie:
user's computers). There is no way in the world I'd let a service like this
run straight C on my machine. Java is a different story, because I think you
can ensure that it is running in it's own secluded sandbox, no opportunity
to be evil to my machine/network/etc. Why allow C, and what are the security
implications for Java?
    - How do you make sure that stuff running on a node machine doesn't
entirely consume all resources on that machine (dont say "nice").

I think security of node machines is going to be a huge issue; I'd like to
hear more in general about how you propose to address this. Although if you
offer $10 a month, many people wont care (silly buggers).

By the way, getting it going is really impressive. I wish I had a cable
modem (I've tried, oh how I've tried)


> Greetings Extropians.
> About 8 months or so ago, David Gobel & I formed a new company called
> Vastmind, as a result of discussions on this list and on Eliezer's
> Singularitatians list.
> It is our pleasure to debut the early beta version of Vastmind to
> the members of the extropians list.
> What is Vastmind? It is a general purpose distributed computing
> service. With our system, people will be able to sell or donate spare
> computing resources to those that need it for large projects. If you are
> unfamiliar with the concept read Egan's "Permutation City" which discusses
> the potential of a planetary computing market.
> You may well be aware that in the past several months, numerous
> other start-ups have appeared that compete directly with us. We are
> hoping that extropians will choose to assist us in establishing a
> foothold in the emerging market.
> If we succeed, it will benefit the extropian agenda.
> For instance, when the day comes where Singularity Institute is in
> need of some serious computional power, we want to be there to
> provide it. When Anders needs to train thousands of neural networks,
> or render his next beautiful povray scene, we hope to be there to
> help. When Eugene needs to needs a terraflop or two to breed a robust
> genetic programming algorithm, we hope to be there to provide that
> power.
> How can you help? We need two things -- applications and *lots* of
> To become a vastmind node (a machine that donates/sells its spare
> one needs only to run our node software on your computer. It lives in the
> background and when the machine is not in use, it works on any projects
> vastmind has available. Currently, only linux & freeBSD node software is
> available. Windows & Macintosh node software will be available in the near
> future. We are looking for tech-saavy volunteers with fast internet
> (no modems please! dsl, cable, or better) to help increase our node-count.
> If you are a developer who is interested in writing a distributed
> our development kit is now online. Vastmind has been engineered to be
> both responsive for small jobs (such as a ray-tracing job that will
> only take a few minutes) and for mega-scale projects that might take
> months or years (such as SETI@home, cracking encryption, and so on).
> It also features a data caching system which will eventually be
> extended into a more proper intelligent distributed file system.
> In the coming weeks, Vastmind will be used for some interesting AI
> to do with the board games "Lines of Action" and "Hex". A strong opening
> book will be built for Lines of Action, and an attempt to solve 7x7 hex
> may be attempted (6x6 hex has been solved, but 7x7 has been too
> computationally expensive with only a handful of machines). These are
> projects from the University of Alberta GAMES research group:
> We are also looking to fill a contract position for porting the node
> to Windows. Contact <> if interested.
> --
> | Aaron Davidson <>

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