Distribute All the Things!

A new architecture for distributed computing

In our previous three posts (OneTwoThree) we explored how Bitcoin functions, and how proof of work has a potential route for decentralization. This post will explore what applying this thinking to other forms of computing can yield.

Let’s look at other computing through the lense of Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a Distributed Autonomous Corporation (DAC) paying people to build infrastructure in order to do computations for it. So let's swap out a DAC with an actual company, and replace the SHA256D Hashes with GPU cycles. Now you have general computation incentivized to build a distributed data center architecture. Rather than participating via a miner, individuals would be running a new device that is a micro data center and thermal battery combined. The main difference between this new system and Bitcoin is simply that the bits of data being computed are not direct value, but indirect value: currency once removed.

Using the same thought process discussed in our previous post, we can put this new general computation ‘miner’ in the water heater to reduce the cost of running the hardware, to the point that the hardware (capital) need only pay for itself. Monetizing the computation in this instance is a little more difficult than with Bitcoin, as you have to line up real customers to pay for the computation, rather than having payment for computation built into the network. This problem could potentially be solved by building software to direct the flow of work to idle ‘miners’. In addition, because Bitcoin is such a low friction market, it has a very low profit margin, whereas the profit margin for general computation is relatively very high per unit of energy expended. So if a Bitcoin miner/heater can be profitable, then running general computations would have the potential to be more profitable yet. This is evidenced by simply comparing a supercomputer data center to a Bitcoin ‘data center’. (Of course, we do have to take a moment to be realistic: not everything can be distributed. Anything time sensitive or really high bandwidth would be difficult to do unless you have fiber to the home. However, even this problem will slowly be solved as infrastructure improves — and perhaps devices such as the new ‘miner’ could help spur that improvement. And in the meantime, there are still many types of computation that could be handled immediately.)

There are many things individuals already pay for which data centers have to treat as additional expenses:

  • Electricity
  • Building
  • Employees
  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Internet Connection

From the individual’s perspective, these are costs they will face regardless of whether they do or do not participate in this new form of ‘mining’. So if they do decide to participate, the only new cost to be taken on is that of the ‘miner’ itself. All revenue generated could therefore be used to pay off the ‘miner’ first, with everything after that becoming ‘profit’.

But what is ‘profit’ in this context? On the level of the individual, any household device that can be operated remotely can be placed into this new micro data center to reduce running costs and share hardware. This means that what you get out of the ‘miner’ may not be pure monetary gain, but rather reduction of expenses through high capital utilization of hardware. For example, imagine if your gaming console could offset most of its cost by doing computational work using ‘free’ electricity (i.e. electricity already allotted to heat your water) while not in use.

And by having highly integrated hardware, look at some of the integration possibilities:

  1. IoT/Smart Home Server
  2. Distributed Computing
  3. Distributed Proof of Work (Bitcoin, or personal identity)
  4. Personal cloud/Distributed Apps
  5. Personal High performance gaming/VR rig
  6. Machine Learning/Distributed Neural Network/Personal AI
  7. Base Station for residential wifi/lifi mesh network

All of a sudden, individuals get a lot of bang for their buck. Using this new device both generates a passive income and acts as a capital investment. This can allow individuals to become micro-capitalists in the digital age. It would now be possible to have a household expense become an investment much like solar panels or battery storage. And just like solar and batteries, the value proposition will only increase in the future as energy becomes more expensive.

This is our ultimate world changing hope for BitHeat: creating a platform for individuals to own their own data, and be part of a new virtual renaissance. The future is going to be a crazy place, and we want to make sure as many people as possible get a piece of it.