Digging Deeper: Can Golem Build a Global Computer?
Imagine if “the Cloud” did more than just store files and provide software services — and was a fully-functional, global, distributed computing resource. Would you use it? Will it work as intended? Golem is one of the more recent blockchain projects promising to build such a system — read on to find out more.
Golem, or the Golem Network, is an Ethereum based computing power marketplace. Advertised as “a global, open sourced, decentralized supercomputer that anyone can access”, the goal of the project is to allow people to buy and sell, or rather rent, computing power.
Those looking to buy computing resources do so with Golem GNT tokens, and those providing the computing resources are rewarded in GNT.
The Golem Network Pitch
According to its official website, the source of this computing power will be “the combined power of users’ machines, from personal laptops to entire datacenters”.
Participating in Golem is a lot like mining CPU or GPU cryptocurrencies. Those who want to sell computing power would install the Golem software on their computer, and the software would automatically accept and process jobs in exchange for payment.
Potential use cases include processor-heavy tasks like graphics rendering, stock market predictions, machine learning, cryptography and cryptocurrency mining, scientific research, and “DApps” (distributed apps). The development team has stated that Golem will eventually be flexible enough to be adapted to almost any imaginable use case.
GNT tokens have seen a slight rise in value in the last week, moving from $0.21 USD to $0.25 each.
Cooperations and Partners
The Golem team have officially announced partnerships with several other blockchain projects. Two of those projects include Streamr and Friend Unifying Platform, or FriendUP.
Streamr is a service that aims to tokenize data streams so that they can be monetized. An example of this would be a smart car that can autonomously provide traffic or weather data to a larger network in exchange for small amounts of cryptocurrency, as well as buy necessary data streams by itself. Streamr completed its ICO and now DATA Coin is on the market.
The partnership with FriendUP was just announced on the 23rd of November. According to an official blog post, Golem made an investment of $750,000 into FriendUP. The blog post describes FriendUp as a service that “… provides all the infrastructure necessary for safe and responsible exchange of information.”
The company has also been known to rub shoulders with the team behind OmiseGO. The OmiseGO team sent representatives to a recent live streamed event called Golem and Friends. The two groups have not yet announced any official collaborations, however.
Fears of Endless Delays
The project is currently in 0.9.0 alpha and is slated to officially launch sometime in “early 2018”. When the project goes live with its first release known as Brass Golem, it will offer distributed CGI rendering services.
With its ICO concluded a year ago in November 2016, and with an original promised Brass Golem release date of Q4 2017, some users are concerned about the delays.
In a blog post from May 2017, Golem founder Julian Zawistowski made the following comment that the main net will go live: “When we are sure we are ready to do so, and not a day before.”
In a Reddit AMA by the development team, some users expressed concerns that the project was moving too slowly, and perhaps the team were being perfectionists. The response was “it’s not about being perfectionists, but as pioneers we need to deal with issues no one really addressed before.”
When another user asked simply if the main net would launch Q4 2017, they responded:
“We aim to be in production in early 2018 once we are 100 percent sure our solution is safe (externally audited) for all parties.”
How Close Is the Competition?
Golem is designed to eventually be an all-purpose distributed computing solution. There are several competing blockchain projects that also aim to target this space. The competition, however, seems to all be focused on very specific industries and applications.
Render Token, or RNDR for example is a distributed computing platform that exclusively targets GPU CGI rendering.
The official Reddit account for the company behind Render Token, Otoy, made the following statement in September:
“We are addressing very different (but complementary) things to Golem, and I don’t think anyone who knows our space is seeing any overlap.”
Conclusion: Ambitious but Promising, If It Works
The idea behind Golem is quite interesting, if ambitious, and it has captured the imaginations of thousands of cryptocurrency enthusiasts. The company has also made several strategic partnerships and investments in order to not only improve their technology, but to help spread it as well.
The company has, however, delayed the release of it’s mainnet launch several times, and is still not formally announcing a release date beyond simply “early 2018”.
The Golem Project has a lot of potential — if its developers can make it a reality. But the blockchain world will need to see what the final project looks like before we can really assess the potential impact of Golem.
What’s your take — can the Golem team build a global computer from a network of smaller ones? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
Images via Golem Network, Flickr user onefromrome