Distributed Computing For a Cause

Digital Citizenship
March 10, 2020

Distributed Computing For a Cause

With distributed computing technology, people can donate idle processor time in support of certain causes.

Key Insight

Distributed computing is a process in which large computer problems are broken down into smaller segments that can be calculated on multiple standard computers, instead of on centralized supercomputers.

Why It Matters

With distributed computing technology, people can donate idle processor time on their personal laptops, cell phones, and other digital devices in support of certain causes or to help solve socially relevant problems.

Examples

Folding@home is a distributed computing project for disease research that was launched in 2000. Consumers donated idle processing power on their computers, PlayStation 3s, and some Sony smartphones to power the scientific research.

Since then, a number of other similar projects have popped up, demonstrating how idle computer resources can become a valuable and monetizable asset. For instance, the Golem network was built upon the Ethereum blockchain and lets people rent out idle computing resources like storage, processing power, or bandwidth to render computer-generated images, conduct DNA analysis, and tackle machine learning tasks. GridCoin is another blockchain-based distributed computing platform providing resources to philanthropic scientific research.

What’s Next

Expect to see more platforms that monetize idle computer resources, allowing consumers to earn income from underutilized resources that they already own.

The Impact

Distributed computing systems will drive down prices for developers and those who need greater processing power, and provide the average device owner with a new source of income and a novel way to support purpose-driven initiatives.

Watchlist

Apple, Android, AWS, Golem.network, Google, GridCoin, Intel, Microsoft, Monero, Samsung, SONM, ISPs and wireless carriers worldwide.