Author Archives: Edillower Wang

The balance of compensation and responsibility relates to distributed computing

Wikipedia defined Distributed computing as “A field of computer science that studies distributed systems. A distributed system is a software system in which components located on networked computers communicate and coordinate their actions by passing messages. The components interact with each other in order to achieve a common goal.”

Distributed computing allows effective use of idle computing resources. BONIC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing)  let scientists use it to create their own volunteer computing project and give them computing power of thousands of volunteer CPUs. The DESCHALL Project we read before is also a typical example.

I think the distribution of benefits (“spoils”) about distributed computing  is worth to talk about. According to the website of BONIC, it’s an unpaid volunteer project, so the research achievements are probably only belong to scientists who post the research projects. As for the DESCHALL project, the originator and the owner of the computer that found the solution share the “achievement” (A $10,000 prize. The owner of the computer that found the solution got $4,000, and the originator got $6,000.) In this case, people who participate in this project but didn’t found the solution didn’t get any compensation. Do you think the distributions of benefits are fair in these two cases?

Consider another case, if there’s a distributed computing project involve in criminal activity such as hacking a bank’s account, should the victims sue people who volunteered to participate in this project and they are neither the originator nor the owner of the computer that found the solution? If we won’t sue these people, it seems like we indulge the accomplices. However, if we sue them, it seems not fair to these people because they will only share the responsibility but won’t share the benefits (based on the two real world cases, these kind of people always don’t have any compensation)


BTW, if there’s any grammar mistake or any unclear statement, please let me know. Thanks!