Supercomputer Power for Everyone

January 5th, 2003 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Supercomputer Power for Everyone)

Most of the time, most people’s computers are not being used. What if someone figured out how to create a peer-to-peer network of people’s processing power, of which people could lend out their processing power to others, in exchange for getting extra processing power back when you need it?

Following the successful implementation of SETI@home and what is sure to be a successful crack at the protein folding problem with Folding@home, perhaps some clever programmers will develop a P2P client that would allow anyone on the network to reap the power of extra CPU cycles of anyone else on the network. Of course you’ll need an API so that new programs as well as existing cycle-demanding applications can take advantage of it. With my current obsession with Mojoworld I could use all the extra power I can get. As it is, I have to wait several days for each minute of animation to render – especially when higher resolution and antialiasing settings are used.

I don’t think this is a matter of if, but when such an application will be created. Perhaps someone reading this site will be inspired enough to code it.

I can imagine as more of these applications are written, there will emerge a variety of CPU markets – some free, and some priced according to the amount you need. I’m sure there is already talk among some entrpreneurial spirits of creating a pay-per CPU giga-cycle in which the majority of those cycles are run on company owned massively parallel cycle-farms.


Sovereign Identity

December 27th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Sovereign Identity)

There has been an ongoing discussion about Digital Identities between Doc Searl, Eric Norlin and David Weinberger. And this months CIO has a great survey of which #8: Identity Crisis talks about the necessity of decentralizing our identities. It makes the very important point that if we rely on increasingly unique biometric identifiers it would only make the problem of identity theft worse. If someone is able to spoof your fingerprint or other biometric identifier, then how would you be able to prove you were you? The answer lies in giving you back control of your identity. Afterall, as long you have control over your identity, does Amazon really need to know who you are, as long as you can secure payment?

John Gilmore is also challenging identity by refusing to give his ID to board an airplane.

Freedom of Travel. I’m suing Attorney General John Ashcroft and various federal agencies, to make them stop demanding that citizens identify themselves in order to travel. Not only airports, but trains, buses, and cruise ships are now imposing ID requirements. This violates several constitutional rights. Stop showing ID whenever someone asks (or demands) it, and you will start to discover just what your rights are.

From this months CIO:

“As long as security relies on identity, then ID theft becomes an effective way of committing fraud,” Schneier adds. “And creating stronger IDs [through biometrics] only makes the problem worse.” Likewise, putting all of your customer information in one central database only heightens the chance that identifying information will be stolen. After all, it’s much easier to break into a large centralized database than small separate databases. And resourceful thieves will always find a way around the toughest security, as Ford and Experian have learned to their chagrin.

To avoid a similar disaster on their turf, CIOs should insist their company’s customer data be kept in separate databases protected by a number of different security measures. And they should push their company to adopt safer business practices that require customers and employees to use a number of different identifiers to gain access to personal data. For retailers, that might mean implementing other business safeguards, such as matching the shipping address with the home address on customers’ credit reports. In the meantime, legislation that bans the use of Social Security numbers and other personal identifiers in instant credit e-mails or letters has already been passed in California and is being considered in other states.

“If you had a dozen IDs and they weren’t linked together, now that would be difficult to steal,” Schneier says. “Decentralize, distribute. There is never one answer to security.


Peer to Peer Television?

December 18th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Peer to Peer Television?)

Tired of being mislabled a consumer? The MPAA and other broadcaster are probably not going to be happy if this software becomes open-sourced and widely distributed on the net. Last week, I referred you to an article by David Weinberger called The End of the Broadcast Nation in which he talks about how decentralized media distribution will not only undermine traditional broadcasters but empower us to become less consumptive and more participatory. With P2P Streaming Video, anyone could become their own TV station.


Web of Trust Audio News Distribution

December 10th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Web of Trust Audio News Distribution)

Orginal Article on Slashdot:

Wearlab (University of Bremen) has designed a cool web of trust voice message routing system with a decaying credibility metric. It supports xmms and winamp. Source available for Linux and win32. “MPN makes it possible to deliver completely decentralized and independent news. Everyone has the possibility to be a reporter, no filtering publisher is required.

Decentralization via software is really kicking into high gear. The recent Supernova conference brought together some of the best minds on this subject. Decentralization combined with unbiquitous computing has the potential of totally changing the way society operates. Imagine a world, that is already totally information based, except that information is managed by applications and infrastructure that is primarily decentralized. My mind is still reeling from yesterdays conference, so stay tuned. I have a lot to say about where this could be heading. Needless to say, I am very excited.


Supernova: P2P obsoletes businesses that sell people to each other

December 9th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Supernova: P2P obsoletes businesses that sell people to each other)

Blogged by Cory Docterow:

Karl Jacob from CloudMark is speaking now at Supernova. He suggests that many Internet based-businesses (like essentially sell people to each other: here is some data that I input, here is some data that you input, and the software acts as a trusted-third-party/matchmaker to hook us up. Peer-to-peer networking makes these businesses superfluous: why do I need you to sell me other people, when they can connect with me directly, using distributed search? (Of course, conferences are businesses that sell people to each other, too)


Advances in Decentralized Peer Networks

December 6th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Advances in Decentralized Peer Networks)

This Story lifted straight from Slashdot:

Peer networks are gaining some attention these days given advances in much more decentralized search architectures and swarming distribution networks. Research has indicated that these decentralized networks are resistant to legaland technological attacks. The continued proliferation of broadband and wireless networking will ensure pervasive deployment of distributed peer networking infrastructure that will drive significant innovations in personal and communitydigital communications services.


Microsoft Says P2P Will Win Over DRM

November 22nd, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Microsoft Says P2P Will Win Over DRM)

According to this article on The Register, Microsoft says that all efforts to stop content swapping/theft – possibly even including Palladium – are in the long term futile.

The paper, which is currently available here, is particularly striking in that it argues its way persuasively through the history, present and future of file sharing, the success or otherwise of ‘attacks’ (academicspeak for ‘lawyers’) on it, and concludes that file sharing will triumph.


Yodel Bank: Anonymous E-Cash

November 19th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Yodel Bank: Anonymous E-Cash)

Thanks to developments in anonymous communication, such as Freenet and the invisible irc project, anonymous digital cash has become a reality. Yodel Bank is offering ‘yodels’ as a form of currency you can exchange with people who you’ve never met outside of anonymous means. For example, you could pay for some web design or a hosting service anonymously, play video poker with real anonymous money on IIP, or make a donation to a charity without disclosing who you are. Yodel Bank is relatively new, but now that you can transfer money over IIP and Freenet, a real vibrant anonymous economy is springing up, and it’s unclear how government will react to this ‘private’ banking.


Freenet Comes of Age

November 8th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Freenet Comes of Age)

Freenet does what people thought the internet was supposed to do – free information from censorship. But as we know, information flows through propietary pipes and exists openly on identifiable servers. This means that not only is our surfing activity and email exposed to prying eyes, but that if certain information is offensive to individuals, corporations or goverments it can be removed. More importantly, it has become increasingly difficult to post information on the internet anonymously. The ability to speek freely, openly, and anonymously assures that ther person can speak their mind without fear of reprisal or even imprisonment or death. Freenet changes all that. Freenet has been a work in progress for over 2 years, and until now it has been cumbersome to use for the average user. Now, with the release of Freenet 0.5 (download here) it has an intuitive and easy to use interface. Freenet works by storing information in an encrptyed, decentralized and distributed manner. Information resides on individual computers on the network. But not even the computer owner knows eactly what information is stored on their machine. What this means is that even if a goverment were to demand that information be removed from Freenet at gunpoint, no one would be able to comply. Once information is published on freenet, its is essentially impossible to remove.


From Global Economy to Global Commons

November 3rd, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on From Global Economy to Global Commons)

In Capital, Power and Ecology I suggested that “ecological” constraints are inherent in a global economy, and how capital along with information wants to be free.. So far the free flow of capital and information seems to be winning, but can it can survive the current onslaught of corruption (crony capitalism) and criminality long enough to see us out of global war and irreversible ecological disaster. In other words can we have free-markets without “capitalism” and environmental destruction? I believe the answer is yes.

In the meantime there are many other developments on the technological front that hold promise for democratizing prosperity, free enterprise, and fostering greater degrees of participatory freedom than ever seen before. Tools like reputation systems and p2p adhoc wireless mesh-networks are so disruptive in their potential its hard to predict what their effect will be, but they are sure to change society as radically as the internet itself – I would say much more so. For starters, adhoc wireless smart mobs will greater power over where capital flows. Companies like World Com and Enron who refuse to open their books and become more transparent will be much less likely to attract capital and investment than those companies that do. Therefore the drive of companies is to become increasing transparent and accountable to their “stakeholders” who in turn have the ability to move their capital around with the simple push of a button. This represents and eminent power shift away from centrally controlled hierarchies to bottom-up grass-roots capital structures. The future of economic wealth creation will come from the bottom-up not the top-down.

Then we have the current tyranny of the content industry as embodied by the RIAA and MPAA and other outdated business models built on artificial scarcity. At the moment, the media giants seem to be winning with draconian legislation ike the DMCA as part of their arsenal. But don’t loose hope.  What we are seeing are old modes of capital and collusion being increasingly threatened by more liquid, networked and liberated economies of scale and zero duplication cost of the internet. Regardless of the legislative and technological restrictions implemented in the US, their are other countries who are not as keen to follow in the same footsteps.

China, not normally a bastion of freedom and democracy, is adopting open-source software at a blinding pace despite Microsoft’s best efforts to shove their bloated, expensive and restrictive licensing schemes down their throats. And while AMD and Intel build in digital restrictions into their processors, China has started its own processor initiative called ‘Dragon’. Kind of ironic that a nation know for its gross human rights abuses could potentially be a bastion of digital liberty. China is not pursuing this path because of their freedom loving nature, but to increase their economic independence and capital liquidity. It just happens that increasing capital requires a corresponding increase in liberty if its to become sustainable. If China develops their own microprocessor and uses free open-source software, they are beholden to no one for their capitalization, especially the “imperialistic” US. So while the US chokes on expensive and restrictive digital lock-downs, China could enjoy a more open platform. So in the global economy where do you think the capital will go? If the US hopes to compete in the global marketplace, its either going to have to loosen its digital restrictions or loose its place as the economic super-power. So the question is can the US continue as an economic superpower without bankrupting itself through global imperialism and domestic tyranny?  Not if it continues to offshore it’s manufacturing base, while allowing banks to extract more capital from the real productive” economy and then tying it up in useless and wasteful financial instruments that do absolutely nothing for the real economy, other than make a bunch of useless bankers rich for robbing us blind.