Vastmind: Distributed Computing

from the but-how-do-I-know-what's-going-on-in-there dept.
Senior Associate Eliezer Yudkowsky forwards from Transdot: Aaron Davidson writes: "About 8 months or so ago, David Gobel & I formed a new company called Vastmind, as a result of discussions on the Extropians list and on Eliezer's Singularitarians list. It is our pleasure to debut the early beta version of Vastmind. 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 the 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 teraflop 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 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 7×7 hex may be attempted (6×6 hex has been solved, but 7×7 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 <[email protected]> if interested."

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