The Paradigm of Social Dispersed Computing and the Utility of Agoras. By Dana Edwards. Posted on Steemit. October 12, 2018.
Social Dispersed Computing
What is socially dispersed computing? It is an edge oriented computing paradigm which goes beyond cloud and fog computing. To understand socially dispersed computing we first have to discuss dispersed computing and how it differs from the previous paradigm of cloud and fog computing. The current trend toward decentralized networks which we first saw with the peer to peer technologies such as Napster, Limewire, Bittorrent, and later with Bitcoin, have brought to us an opportunity to conceptually new paradigms. The original model most people are familiar with is the client server model which was very much limited in that the server was always vulnerable to DDOS attack. The client server model has never been and could likely never be censorship resistant.
In the client server model the server could simply shut down as was the case with Bitconnect or it could be raided. The server could also be shut down by hackers who simply flood the site with requests. As we can see from the problems the client server model presented we discovered the utility of the peer to peer model. The peer to peer model was all about censorship resistance and promoted a network which was to have no single point of failure (single point of attack) which could be result in the shutdown of access points to the information. One of the first applications for these peer to peer networks was file sharing networks and networks such as Freenet/Tor etc. This of course eventually evolved into the Bitcoin which ultimately led to the development of Steem.
In dispersed computing a concept is introduced called "Networked Computation Points". An NCP can execute a function in support of user applications. To elaborate further I'll offer something below.
Consider that every component in a network is a node. Now consider that every component node is an NCP in that it can execute some function to support some user application. If we think of for example a blockchain then we know mining would fit into this category because it is both a node in the network and it also can execute a function in support of Bitcoin transactions. Why is any of this important? Parallelism is something we can gain from dispersed computing and please note that it is distinct form concurrent computing. When we rely on parallelism we can reap the benefits in terms of performance when executing code by breaking it up into many small tasks which can be performed across many CPUs.
EOS attempts to leverage parallelism specifically to enable it's performance boost. The benefit is speed and flexibility. Think for example of the hardware side also with FGPAs which can do similar tasks of a microprocessor. FGPAs (not ASICs) which unlike ASICs would provide generalized flexible parallel computing. Consider that just like with mining a company could add more and more FGPAs to scale an application as needed.
To understand Social Dispersed Computing we have to make note of the fact that there are other users at any given time. For example the other users in the network participate to provide resources to the network for the benefit of other users whilst using the network. So in Steem for example as you add content to Steem you are adding value to Steem in a direct way, but also in a dynamic way. The resources on Steem also can adapt dynamically to the demand provided that the incentive mechanism (Resource Credits) works as intended.
EOS as an example DOSC (Dispersed Operating System Computer)
Because EOS seems to be the first to approach this holistically I will give credit to the EOS network for pioneering dispersed computing in the crypto space. All resources are representable by tokenization in a dispersed computing network. EOS and even Steem have this. Steem has it in the form of "Resource Credits" which represent the available resources on the Steem network. If more resources are needed then theoretically the resource credits could act as an incentive to provide these resources to the Steem network. This provides a permanent price floor to Steem represented as the amount of Steem which would have to be purchased in order to have enough resources to run Steem (if I have the correct theoretical understanding). This would put Steem on a trajectory toward dispersed computing.
Operating systems typically sit between the hardware and software as a sort of abstraction layer. This traditionally has been valuable because programmers don't have to directly speak to the hardware and hardware designers don't have to directly communicate by their designs to the programmer. In essence the operating system in the traditional model is centralized and made by a company such as Microsoft or Apple. This centralized operating system typically runs on a device or set of devices and provides some standard services such as email, a web browser, and maybe even a Bitcoin wallet.
Typically the most valuable or high utility software people consider on a computer is the operating system. In our smart phones this is Android OS and in PCs it may be Windows or Linux. This is of course thrown on it's head under the new paradigm of dispersed computing and the new conceptual model of the "decentralized" operating system. EOS is the first to attempt a decentralized operating system using current blockchain technology but the upcoming technology easily eclipses what EOS could do. Tauchain is a technology which if successful will leave EOS in the stone age in terms of what it will be able to do. EOS while ambitious also has had it's problems with regard to the voting mechanisms and the ease at which collusion can take place.
To better understand how decentralized operating systems emerge learn about:
If we look at OSKit we see that it is the tools necessary for operating system development. If we look at Tauchain we realize that it is strategically the most important tool for the development of a decentralized operating system being provided in the form of TML (a partial evaluator). If we think of the primary tool necessary to develop from we have to initially start with a compiler. A compiler generator is more like what TML allows with it's partial evaluator. More specifically it is the feature of Futamura projection which can provide the ability to generate compilers.
If we look at the next most important part of an operating system it is typically the kernel. Let's have a look at what an exokernel is:
Operating systems generally present hardware resources to applications through high-level abstractions such as (virtual) file systems. The idea behind exokernels is to force as few abstractions as possible on application developers, enabling them to make as many decisions as possible about hardware abstractions. Exokernels are tiny, since functionality is limited to ensuring protection and multiplexing of resources, which is considerably simpler than conventional microkernels' implementation of message passing and monolithic kernels' implementation of high-level abstractions.
By Thorben Bochenek [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
From this at minimum we can see that an exokernel is a more efficient and direct way for programmers to communicate with hardware. To be more specific, "programs" communicate with hardware directly by way of an exokernel. We know the most basic function of a kernel in an operating system is the management of resources. We know in a decentralized context that tokenization allows for incentives for management of resources. When we combine them we get kernel+tokenization to produce an elementary foundation of an operating system. In a distributed context we could apply a decentralized operating system in such a way that the network could be treated as a unified computer.
Abstraction is still important by the way. In an operating system we know the object oriented way of abstraction. Typically the programmer works with the concept of objects. In an "Application Operating Environment" an "Application Object" can be another useful abstraction. Abstraction can of course be taken further but that is for another blog post.
The Utility of Agoras
Agoras+TML is interesting. Agoras is the resource management component of what may evolve into the Tau Operating System. This Tau Operating System or TOS is something which would be vastly superior to EOS or anything else out there because of the unique abilities of Agoras. The main abilities have been announced on the website such as the knowledge exchange (knowledge market) where humans and machines alike can contribute knowledge to the network in exchange for the token reward. We also know that Agoras will have a more direct resource contribution incentive property in the form of the AGRS token so as to facilitate the sale or trade of storage, bandwidth or computation resources.
The possible (likely?) emergence of the Tau Operating System
In order for Tauchain to evolve into a Dispersed Operating System Computer it will need an equivalent to a kernel. Some means of allowing whomever is responsible for the Tauchain network to control and manage the resources of that network. If for example the users decide then by way of discussion there would be a formal specification or model of a future iteration of the Tauchain network. This according to current documents is what would produce the requirements for the Beta version of the network to apply program synthesis. Program synthesis in essence could result in a kernel and from there the components of a Tau Operating System could be synthesized in the same way. Just remember that all that I write is purely speculative as we have no way to predict with certainty the direction the community will take during the alpha.
Size matters. Some people object that it does not matter, but has meaning. But meaning always matters, so it is the same.
The bigger problems one solves, the bigger the gains. Big problems require big solutions. We live in a big universe and our very survival is to deal with bigger and bigger problems, which require bigger and bigger solutions to cope.
But nevertheless to build big is hard so we naturally prefer to create small things which can grow. Small from point of view both of understandable and affordable to build. So best fit are small solutions, cheap and easy to make which scale out or unfold or unleash into big means to address big problems. Scaling is everything.
Scaling. Scalable! Scalability !!
The root-word 'scale' possesses marvelous riches of meaning in English language  with lots of poetics inside.:
 snake skin epidermals - wisdom, memory, protection, rejuvenation, regeneration, eternity...
hen to pan (ἓν τὸ πᾶν), "the all is one"
 warrior armour - security, defense, power, strength.
 weighting scales - device to measure mass, unit, measure, account.
all very Blockchainy wording without any shadow of doubt.
The scalability issues could be grokked  with the following anecdote:
Bunch of workers on a construction site and a huge log. The onsite manager commands a few of them to lift and move it. They try and object ''Too heavy!''. The manager adds more and more workers, until they shout back again: ''Too short!''.
A few real examples, the first two - bad and the last three excellent:
[a] I won't name this 'crypto' just will say it is named after a mythical element of the universe, according to the prescientific gnostic  imaginations. It's core 'value proposition is to shovel meaningful computation into a thread of computation which very value proposition is to be as random, meaningless and unidirectional (hard to do, easy to prove) as possibly possible - the blockchain. The theoretically most expensive form of computation. Visualize: cars and airplanes made of gold and diamonds burning most expensive perfumes. Or mass production of electricity by raising trillions of cats and hiring trillions of people to pet them with grid of pure gold wires to discharge and collect the electrostatics. If they have chosen the original Satoshi blockchain  for their 'experiments' - where the futility of such attempt would become instantly clear and would die out outright due to impending unbearable cost - will of course be more fair way to do, and would've spared dozens of billions of dollars to the Mankind, but logically they preferred a 'controlled' blockchain of their own. In a sense that the guys with vested interest into it have the power to hand-drive, stop, restart and vivisect it. The only use of this 'blockchain supercomputer' is ... tokenomics by Layering. Why it was at all necessary for a blockchain advertised as so good as to do all the general computation, to be made so hairy and bushy with layered tokens??
[b] Another trio of chaps, won't mention names again, were really at awe with Satoshi's creation, so much that they not just liked, but wanted it and decided to have it. For themselves. All of it. And rebelled and forked out and provided 'scaling' errrmm ... uhhh... solution. By increasing the blocksize. Something which Satoshi meditated on, extensively discussed with his disciples and not occasionally decided to put breaks on.  Very recently the crypto news headlines said that the blocksize increase solution providers are eyeing ... Layering. Which they furiously were advocating that blocksize increase makes unnecessary. Cause it is the solution, isn't it? Or maybe it just was. And is not anymore? Well, I'd say that all the aka 'alts'  - to provide a rejuvenated clone of Bitcoin tweeked here and there to provide momentary ease of difficulty and transaction fees - suffer from one and a same problem - traveling back in time does not tell you the future.
[c] Lets jump half a century back in time. It is 1960es. The very making of internet. Computers are already here and scaled up in numbers so their networking to become a problem/juice worth the solution/squeeze. The birth of TCP/IP  and the report of the very makers of it. Of the solution for the network scaling. Enjoy the ancient wisdom:
Initially, the TCP managed both datagram transmissions and routing, but as the protocol grew, other researchers recommended a division of functionality into protocol layers. Advocates included Johnatan Postel of the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute, who edited the Request for Comments (RFCs), the technical and strategic document series that has both documented and catalyzed Internet development. Postel stated, "We are screwing up in our design of Internet protocols by violating the principle of layering." Encapsulation of different mechanisms was intended to create an environment where the upper layers could access only what was needed from the lower layers. A monolithic design would be inflexible and lead to scalability issues. The Transmission Control Program was split into two distinct protocols, the Transmission Control Protocol and the Internet Protocol.
The layering made the Internet as we know it. By the simple trick of just one node needed to permit another. Unstoppable inclusivity!
[d] The Mastercoin / Omni Layer :
«A common analogy that is used to describe the relation of the Omni Layer to bitcoin is that of HTTP to TCP/IP: HTTP, like the Omni Layer, is the application layer to the more fundamental transport and internet layer of TCP/IP, like bitcoin».
[e] The Lightning network (LN) :
The Lightning Network is a "second layer" payment protocol that operates on top of a blockchain (most commonly Bitcoin).
Satoshi spoke on 'payment' channels in his masterpiece. Foreseeing the way to scale.
An estimate of the power of LN layering .:
''The bitcoin devs accept that eventually larger block sizes will be needed. The current transaction rate isn't going to cut it if people all over the world actually start using bitcoin daily. They estimate that eventually, if everyone in the world uses bitcoin and makes 2 transactions a day, but uses the lightning network, a 133mb blocksize will be needed. Without the lightning network, something like a 200gb (GIGABYTE) size PER BLOCK would be needed to accommodate that much usage.''
Layering upscales it with orders of magnitude of higher efficiency.
If Bitcoin is the 'first layer' and Omni and Lightning are 'second layer', I see which one is the 'Zeroth Layer' and also foresee  the inevitability of the merger or 'Amalgamation' of all second layers over all blockchains, so the user will be able to transact everything into anything to anybody, without to know or care which chain is in use ... I have special nicknames for these and will go back to these topics in series of future posts.
Enough of examples I reckon.
The Postel's sacred Principle of Layering comes from the implementation levels paradigm.
or Abstraction layering :
''separations of concerns to facilitate interoperability and platform independence''
With other words - delegate the task to that layer of the system which does the particular job best. We can generalize this into The Scaling Commandment. Only one enough:
''Thou shalt not jam it all into a single layer!''
The Layer Cake architecture is literally ubiquitous across the Universe.: biology, semantics, informatics ...
It seems that it is if not the only, at least THE way to scale.
Maybe, someday, we the Humanity, upscaled by Tauchain will discover more powerful than Layering ways to Scale, but it is all we have for now.
Scaling is a problem. Scaling must be scalable, too.
Metascale from here to Eternity.
The liquid paradigm, feedback loops, the virtuous cycle and Tauchain. By Dana Edwards. Posted on Steemit. December 31, 2017.
What do I mean by the concept of "liquid platform"? This is merely a re-articulation of the concept of self amendment and self definition. In other words it is very much like an autopoietic design. Bruce Lee once said to "be like water", and the reason is because water can adapt to any environment it is placed it by taking the form of the container it is put into.
So by liquid paradigm I mean that the core feature of true next generation platform design is going to be focused on maximum adaptability.
Feedback loops and the virtuous cycle
How can we have a platform which promotes continuous self improvement? If you have a platform with no hard coded "self" then even the design of the platform is under constant negotiation and creation. This is key because it means Tauchain will be able to adapt quicker than all other competing platforms. Quicker than Tezos because Tezos merely provides self amendment but lacks the virtuous cycle, the meta language, etc.
The Tau Meta Language allows for self definition at the level of languages. This means even the communication mechanism between humans and machines can be updated continuously. This continuous updating is the key design breakthrough of Tauchain because it means Tauchain will always be state of the art in any area. Think of a platform like Wikipedia where anyone can update any part of it in real time continuously so that every part of it is always the state of the art.
Starting at languages, the feedback loop can be created between humans and intelligent machines. Humans must make decision on how to design Tau. These design decisions benefit from the virtuous cycle due to the feedback loop between humans and machines allowing the decision making ability itself to be upgraded. This could even allow for the humans to transcend traditional human capabilities by relying on intelligent machines to assist in design which means better future designs, which means better decision making, which means better future designs which leads to better decision making, this represents the "virtuous cycle" by way of a feedback loop between humans to machines to humans to machines to humans etc. The humans improve the quality of the machines by feeding knowledge, feeding new algorithms, feeding just enough for the machines to become intelligent enough to help the humans to help the machines even more efficiently in the next iteration of Tauchain, over and over again.
Humans and machines will seek more good and less bad for the formal specification of Tau itself. Good and bad designs will be defined collaboratively by the human participants by way of intelligent discussion. As discussion scales, bigger crowds means more human minds involved, which means improved design, which leads eventually to a better and perhaps wiser Tau, which of course would lead to wiser even more intelligent discussions, which can lead to an improved formal specification, and to a better Tau. So that is a loop. It is also a loop between improving Tau, improving society, improving Tau, improving society.
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Suggested readings to better understand the Tau ecosystem, Tau Meta Language, Tau-Chain and Agoras, and collaborate in the development of the project.
Lecturas sugeridas para entender mejor el ecosistema Tau, Tau Meta Lenguaje, Tau-Chain y Agoras, y colaborar en el desarrollo del proyecto.