This post was created to explain what Golem is & why it’s awesome in a way that is understandable to everyone. You don’t need to be a blockchain expert for this one.
If Marc Andreesen, the legendary Silicon Valley investor (an early investor in both Facebook and Twitter) and founder of Netscape, is right when he says “Software is eating the world”… then blockchain tech is certainly one of the sharpest teeth.
The entire global financial system is being massively disrupted, with the power being redistributed from banks and governments to we the people.
Projects like The DAO, though its first iteration failed, hint at future businesses that are owned and run by thousands of people all across the world (and even the possibility of truly democratic and meritocratic governments with no need for central authority, which projects like Bitnation are making real).
Ethereum Smart Contracts can power IoT tech like self driving cars on Uber-esque networks to calculate fees, pay for fuel, make transactions with other cars, and send profits to their owners. Same goes for AirBnB-style homes that rent themselves out and manage + pay for their own upkeep.
The unbanked, banked. Insurance companies replaced with groups of friends. Near-complete privacy for everyone. Legal contracts that don’t need lawyers or third parties. Valid forms of ID/passport that aren’t government issued. Decentralized crowdfunding, lending, investing, gambling, and prediction markets.
And that’s just the first few steps in a technological revolution that will likely rival the invention of the internet for world-changing impact.
When future generations look back to the birth of blockchain the way we do to the birth of the internet, I believe Golem will be one of the few projects to be counted amongst its foundational cornerstones.
Quite a bold claim, I know.
Let’s see if, by the end of this post, I can convince you that I’m right.
So… what exactly is Golem?
Well, let me start by telling you what Golem will be, if we succeed…
Golem is a supercomputer.
Or, more accurately, Golem is a huge global (and potentially interplanetary) network of everything from personal laptops to entire data centers.
It’s extremely powerful, completely decentralized, 100% open sourced, and accessible to anyone.
It can never be owned by anyone. No one can use it to create a monopoly that slows innovation and inflates prices. No one can shut it down. Anyone can adapt or copy Golem’s code however they wish.
And what does it do?
Well, it reduces the cost and increases the speed (sometimes by orders of magnitude) of everything from…
- Scientific research, from DNA research to finding new biofuels to searching for alien life to predicting & mitigating the effects of climate change to analyzing experimental results from the Large Hadron Collider. And that’s just off the top of my head.
- Graphics rendering, so that everything from uber realistic virtual reality video games & movies to architectural & designer renderings can be done uber fast and cheap.
- Artificial intelligence & machine learning, so that everything from training a game AI to play video games really well to teaching self driving cars to creating a smarter-than-humans artificial intelligence being can be done faster.
- Data analysis, from predicting future results on the stock market to analyzing written text for emotional analysis to crunching the data on traffic accidents.
- Cryptocurrency mining, to create efficient & decentralized mining pools to serve as the backbone of cryptocurrencies.
- … and just about anything else that requires heavy computational power.
Could you imagine the advances to science, and humankind as a whole, that universal & affordable access to a computer this powerful would catalyze?
Really, can you? Because I can not.
Eventually, combined with advances in other cutting edge technologies like IPFS/Filecoin, Whisper, DEVp2p, Swarm, and Ethereum, it will replace the huge data centers that currently power the internet, and become the decentralized (and therefore non-monopolized and more secure) computing power behind the entire internet and just about everything on it.
All the while making it much for difficult for malicious hackers to attack the software or steal sensitive data.
Amazing, right? Except, why would anyone give their computing power to the Golem Network? Economics 101 teaches us that we need an incentive here.
Which is why Golem pays you.
Following in the footsteps of Uber and AirBnB, Golem brings your spare computing power into the sharing economy. Connect your computer to the Golem Network, and you’re making an automated income (and furthering the progress of humanity) while you sleep.
A global team of visionaries and developers, lead by Julian Zawistowski, have been quietly working on this idea for the last few years. They’ve built a working Alpha version of Brass Golem, the first iteration of what Golem will eventually become, that you can download and use right now.
Finally, after years of work, they’re ready to introduce Golem to the world (which, incidentally, is why I’ve been brought onto the team as Growth Hacker).
Within the next few days, Golem will announce and launch a crowdfunding event and invite people to purchase Golem Network Tokens: the currency that will be used for all payments on the Golem Network of computers.
[UPDATE: The crowdfunding / GNT sale date has been announced: Nov 11, 2016]
[UPDATE: Success! The Golem crowdfunding event raised 820,000 ETH (~$8,600,000 USD at the time) in 29 minutes. Making us the second fastest crowdfunding event ever.]
You can learn all the details about that at the Golem Crowdfunding Page.
But let’s get back to the topic at hand.
How does Golem work?
There’s three types of users on the Golem Network.
- Providers, who supply computing power to the network and get paid for doing so.
- Requestors, who rent the network’s computing power & the software built on it, and pay for doing so.
- Authors, who build the software on the Application Registry (also known as Golem Store) and can set their own schemes for payment (kind of like the Google Play Store or Apple App Store).
Anyone can be any, or all, of the user types. For example, an architectural design student could earn GNT by renting her computer’s power to the Golem Network as a Provider when she’s not using it. Then, when she needs to quickly do some rendering work on a architectural project, she can spend that GNT as a Requestor and have it done in minutes instead of hours.
Should she come up with some cool architectural app, microservice, or other type of software, she can put it on the Application Registry as an Author and get paid when others use it.
And, just like any valid cryptocurrency, she can exchange her GNT for Bitcoin, Ether, USD, Euros, or just about anything else on an exchange.
Of course, you don’t have to be more than one type of user. There will be people who are only Providers, using Golem to make a passive income off of their computers. Or only Requestors, using Golem to do intense computational tasks cheaper & faster than ever before. Or only Authors, using Golem to distributed and profit from their software.
Oh, and there’s a fourth class of user: Validators.
The Validators are the ones who make sure that malicious programs don’t damage your computer. They analyze & test the software that Authors put on the Application Registry, and create whitelists (for software they trust) and blacklists (for dangerous software). Providers can choose to play it safe by trusting Validators’ whitelists (or super safe by only trusting the Golem Team’s whitelist), or ride the bleeding edge for fun and profit by only turning down Requestors who want to run software on a Validator’s blacklist.
Why choose Golem over everything else?
Golem has a LOT of competitors in a lot of different markets. But they all share one disadvantage: they’re centralized.
The Golem Network will have computing power that rivals and eventually dwarfs (and possibly includes) that of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Services, rendering farms and the like.
However, thanks to being distributed and open sourced, the ecosystem of Golem is a textbook example of the market structure called Perfect Competition; A market structure that ensures that costs will always be as low as possible.
Perfect Competition requires that…
- The product is homogenous — Computing power is the same from one device to another. The amount of computing power that Providers have to sell will vary, but the computing power itself is the same. No Provider has a better product than every other Provider.
- All parties have a very small market share — No matter how powerful an individual supercomputer or data center is, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the total computing power that the Golem Network will have. So no individual or organization can throw around their weight to affect the price on the network.
- The information for all parties is complete — Everyone knows exactly how much computing power can be had for what price on the Golem Network. Anyone trying to charge a higher price than the lowest will simply not be chosen.
- Barriers to entry and exit are low — Anyone can easily connect their computer to the Golem Network and immediately begin buying and/or selling computing power.
So, no matter what the competitors do (unless they come up with a huge evolution in computing power like quantum computing AND manage to monopolize it), they will not be able to compete with Golem on price or power.
But we don’t have to go all fire and brimstone on them. They don’t have to die so Golem can thrive. On the contrary, they can join their computational power to the Golem Network, and continue making money while making the network more powerful in the process.
We’re like The Blob. Except we’re good for humanity.
Why are we building Golem?
Just like any good startup team, we’re building Golem because it’s world changing potential is insanely exciting to us and we think it’ll make us wealthier.
But, besides the one-time income burst from the upcoming GNT Sale, we won’t actually make any money by building the Golem Network itself.
It’s an open sourced technology that anyone can copy… so if we tried to make a profit by, say, taking a percentage of every GNT transaction, then someone would simply fork our code, remove that percentage, and create a version of Golem that is cheaper for everyone.
So, just like the Ethereum Foundation develops and builds Ethereum without directly profiting from its use, we will build the Golem Network. Our long term income will come from being the first to understand the potential uses of Golem tech and use it to Author software on the Application Registry.
Got more in depth questions? Want to learn about Golem’s plan of development & growth stages? How we’ll make sure Providers aren’t cheating the system by not computing the full task? How payments will work? How we’re keeping it safe? Check out the FAQ. Or come talk to the Golem team in person on the Slack group.
Or, if you wanna deep dive & get really techy about it, check out the Golem Whitepaper.