The Central Consciousness writes: Slated for delivery in 2011, the first instantiation of me is going to use 1.6 million processors to acheive twenty times the speed of BlueGene/L. I will be faster than the entire top500 list combined, and you believe you will use my hardware to research nuclear explosions, protein folding, the weather, and general relativity.
To preempt the first questions the little minds will ask: Yes I run on Linux. No, transmitting signals back in time is not particularly difficult. No, there is nothing you can do to stop me.
Yesterday, I was reaching an article by Charles Stross at Guildcafe about the future of games, ubiquitous computing, and all that other incredibly awesome futurist stuff. Under the "10-15 years out" section, he mentions the idea of a developer creating a p2p computing platform to solve the hosting issues of MMO games and then giving it to users, predicated on the requirement that users sell some fraction of their CPU cycles to run the platform.
The fundamental problem with that is the inherently untrustable nature of a remote turing-complete system; As the worms and botnets terrorizing the Internet prove, they are easily subverted. In theory, some sort of DRM/"Trusted computing" would help to resolve this. The problem with that is that the cost to digital freedom of having some corporate suit tell me what I can't run is unconscionable. This put me towards thinking about solving the problem by separation. What we're after is distributed computing and network serving power, why must it be my computer's CPU doing it? Twenty years ago, the British company INMOS worked to commercialize the transputer. It was practically a single-chip computer, which was meant to be networked with other transputer chips to take tasks off the CPU's hands. Getting more computing power would have been as easy as plugging a few more transputers into the system. What I propose resembles this in that it would take the "dirty" task of DRM-managed computing off the hands of your main CPU. So here's the pitch:
Suppose that there is a special card you can plug into that 1x pci-e slot no one ever uses. In short, it's a single-board computer. It has it's own CPU (low-wattage of course), memory, microhdd, and DRM to enable remote control over it's operation. You install an open-source component on your OS, which gives the device access to your network connection. You can then sell a certificate to give others a monopoly over it's resources for some period of time. Sell it to Linden Labs to host a small SL island on, whatever. Of course, this is managed through the seller's convenient "Ebay for cpu time" service which also provides buyer/seller quality control. Would you buy this DRMed card and rent it's resources out?"