Vastmind: Distributed Computing

From: Aaron Davidson (
Date: Wed Jul 19 2000 - 16:14:20 MDT

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

How can you help? We need two things -- applications and *lots* of computers.

To become a vastmind node (a machine that donates/sells its spare resources)
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 that
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 connections
(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 application
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 projects
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 software
to Windows. Contact <> if interested.

| Aaron Davidson  <> |

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