#SundayInterview. How to harness a distributed computing power?

The idea of IEXEC’s Desktop Grid is to harness large number of idle machines on the Internet or on local networks to execute very large scientific applications – says Julien Béranger, Communication & Content manager in IEXEC in Bithub.pl’s #SundayInterview.

Do you have a cryptocurrency „fever” in France? Because we seem to have one in Poland. It’s mainly about investing and making profit but also about insightful blockchain applications. How does it look from your perspective?

Julien Béranger: I guess it depends what you call a “fever” but I think it’s here. People seem to be more and more enthusiast about Bitcoin, Ethereum and token sales. Mainstream media still don’t get it though. This Coindesk article gives details about the French ecosystem. Companies that need investment are afraid to launch an ICO for legal reasons and they should not in my opinion.

Could you briefly explain what your idea of Desktop Grid is about? By the way, we have a startup operating in Poland named Golem, I’m seeing some similarities between your projects. Are you familiar with their brand?

JB: I invite you to read our white paper to understand what’s at stake with Desktop Grid computing. The idea of Desktop Grid is to harness large number of idle machines on the Internet or on local networks to execute very large scientific applications. It’s well exemplified by projects such as [email protected], [email protected] We want to bring this paradigm to all businesses. Of course we’re watching closely everything that’s going on in the crypto space, including Golem. We have very different business approaches. Golem seems to be focusing on 3D rendering while we want to make it easy for dapps first. We’re in discussion with the Golem team and I think both projects are actually competing against centralized solutions. Who knows how powerful a cooperation between the two of us would be?

But to be honest, IEXEC has a good background in establishing large distributed computing infrastructure. We’re getting ready for IEXEC version 1 release in November 2017, including on the marketing side where Golem was pretty talented.

As you mention on your website, you’ve been pushing your idea from early 2000s. Has blockchain been the crucial technological breakthrough for bringing it to life?

JB: Yes, now that Ethereum is here, it changes a lot of things. So yes, the blockchain definitely has been a crucial technological breakthrough that brought IEXEC to life. We use it for consensus, payments, transactions and authentication : these always has been major unsolved issues for creating a business model based on the Desktop Grid computing paradigm.

Do you think blockchain inspires new ideas that were unthought of before or rather it enables the ideas that couldn’t have yet been introduced for the lack of technological infrastructure?

JB: Both. The Internet of value (Bitcoin) is a major innovation and it allows to design new kinds of apps, new business models that were impossible to even dream of in the past. So the blockchain surely inspires new ideas but it also enables the ideas that couldn’t have yet been introduced because of the lack of efficient infrastructure.

Now that we sort of expand the capacity of Ethereum blockchain, there is NO LIMIT in the design of decentralized apps : you would use (1) Ethereum mainnet basically for payment and reputation, (2) SIA, IPFS or Swarm for storage and (3) IEXEC for affordable computing power.

IEXEC co-founders represent science and research. Is scientific world is getting more and more keen on blockchain development? Like it’s becoming one of the main things to work on? Do you feel some kind of general „push” to further blockchain ideas and applications?

JB: At the moment, I don’t see blockchain being a hot topic in the academy yet. But this will change very soon, because there are so many exciting research challenges to address. Plus, blockchain renew several thematics that were quite popular some years ago and that we can now look at with a different perspective (P2P, distributed consensus, formal verification, etc). For obvious reasons, we’re already seeing more and more Ph.D. thesis on the blockchain thing

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies seem to evolve at a pretty high rate but they are a domain quite difficult to grasp for many (if not most of the) people. Do you think the ideas „spawned” by blockchain and cryptocurrencies will be available to the masses as practical applications pretty soon? Or they will remain an elite thing for IT specialists for long?

JB: Quite a lot of projects in the crypto space are working on the ‘mass adoption’ side of things. It took us more than 20 years to actually get how to use the Internet of information, so the emergence of the Internet of value will not be complete tomorrow morning. It will take time. For instance, people already can use the blockchain to raise funds (crowdsales). It’s rather easy to take advantage of the technology (ERC-20 tokens). Also, I think that users won’t necessary need to understand all the subtleties of this technology : they will probably don’t even know their using the blockchain.

Interviewed by Przemyslaw Cwik