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Author Topic: usefulness of the work performed?  (Read 2983 times)
bg002h
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July 14, 2010, 02:29:25 AM
 #1

Why is it useful to compute the hashes?  I understand they serve as proof of "work", but, are we like saving lives by folding proteins or something?  In other words, is there another value beyond proof of work?  Otherwise, it's like proving you had your computer on and it was hashing away at a certain rate...is that useful?  Also, is it possible to compute all possible hashes?  Are we making 256 bit encryption less strong by participating? 

I'm so confused....

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jib
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July 14, 2010, 02:46:40 AM
 #2

The hashes are useless except as proof of work. We're not folding proteins or anything.

And there are so many possible 256-bit hashes that if every computer in the world computed them continuously for years they wouldn't get anywhere near computing a significant fraction of them, and it'd be impossible to store all the results. Using Bitcoin won't have any effect on the strength of encryption.

Looking forward to quantum computing so we can have qubitcoins.
bg002h
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July 14, 2010, 02:51:45 AM
 #3

Is there no way to get proof of work from work (that is otherwise) worth doing?  I mean, if I were picky about currencies, I'd be more proud to say I have 500 SETI dollars than 500 hash cash units (BTC).  Also, you could do cool things like reward for discoveries instead of simply accumulated cpu cycles...i.e. a big bonus for discovering a cancer gene or something...bitcoin seems to have potential, but, my heart isn't in it...

Addendum:  also, this isn't exactly a benign thing to engage in...we're wasting electricity to generate a method of imparting value to digital objects and doling them out "fairly."  Why not just make them all and dispense randomly?  we'd keep some CO2 from entering the atmosphere that way!

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July 14, 2010, 06:55:14 AM
 #4

It is useful work! Work making Bitcoin payments. It's like cash transporters saying: "Why are we driving around with all these coins and notes just so people can give them to each other? Why not just distribute them randomly and then never exchange them? We'd keep some CO2 from entering the atmosphere that way!"
Stone Man
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July 14, 2010, 07:16:36 AM
 #5

This thread seems to apply here.

http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=203.0

AFAIK, there are no "useful" computational problems that have the properties necessary to be used as a proof-of-work.  

The hash function is used because it is irreversible, easily checkable, small in size, and probably some other things I'm forgetting.  Even if you could, for example, encode the transactions as a polypeptide (chain of amino acids), and then made folding the polypeptide into a protein the proof-of-work, such a proof-of-work could not be checked without redoing the entire computation.

Even if you could come up with a suitable problem, due to the economics of BC you would never actually generate any additional value by using a "useful" problem.
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July 14, 2010, 07:29:23 AM
 #6

Sounds like you value something more like Folding@Home for your CPU cycles. And that's fine. They work towards such goals and reward contribution with points. The work done isn't easily translatable into points however. I've read about the folding project tweaking the point system to reflect different projects and computer platforms running them. So it might be difficult to understand the value of a point. 

Energy is spent maintaining the system, true. Some of it would be used anyway some not, but the trading system is worth it.  As an analogy, people drive cars which use energy and also emit CO2. Is the gasoline to drive to the bank wasted in that it doesn't produce any more useful work from you?

I'll have to punt to the economics forum on the give everyone all the coins question but I don't believe it will quite work if you drive out all the scarcity.
joechip
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July 14, 2010, 11:11:25 AM
 #7

It is useful work! Work making Bitcoin payments. It's like cash transporters saying: "Why are we driving around with all these coins and notes just so people can give them to each other? Why not just distribute them randomly and then never exchange them? We'd keep some CO2 from entering the atmosphere that way!"


Ding!  This is analogous to the Chicago School complaint about gold, the waste associated with currency creation.  Why do that work when you can free that capital to do something productive?

Answer: corruption of the medium of exchange itself.  The work you are performing, if you think it has value, is producing a stronger underlying foundation to your claim of property associated with a particular bitcoin.
bg002h
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July 14, 2010, 11:33:05 AM
 #8


Ding!  This is analogous to the Chicago School complaint about gold, the waste associated with currency creation.  Why do that work when you can free that capital to do something productive?

Answer: corruption of the medium of exchange itself.  The work you are performing, if you think it has value, is producing a stronger underlying foundation to your claim of property associated with a particular bitcoin.


Thanks everyone for some very insightful arguments.  Since there's no way to get (otherwise) useful work and easily verified, incorruptible currency, all our energy (literally) goes into making a valid currency.   In this sense, BTC suffers from the problem that all currency has: it is intrinsically worthless, and some would say even harmful, but it is the only solution to the imperfect, dishonest human problem. 

While (as a physician) I'd rather be folding proteins, I think there is a more fundamental problem being solved with bitcoins.  My heart is in it again now.  Thanks again everyone!

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July 14, 2010, 01:52:15 PM
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Ding!  This is analogous to the Chicago School complaint about gold, the waste associated with currency creation.  Why do that work when you can free that capital to do something productive?

Isn't gold mining almost purely harmful nowadays? It is a costly way of creating inflation. This is the reason the amount of new bitcoins is limited so that there is no eternal bitcoin mine.
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July 14, 2010, 02:14:52 PM
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Ding!  This is analogous to the Chicago School complaint about gold, the waste associated with currency creation.  Why do that work when you can free that capital to do something productive?

Answer: corruption of the medium of exchange itself.  The work you are performing, if you think it has value, is producing a stronger underlying foundation to your claim of property associated with a particular bitcoin.


Thanks everyone for some very insightful arguments.  Since there's no way to get (otherwise) useful work and easily verified, incorruptible currency, all our energy (literally) goes into making a valid currency.   In this sense, BTC suffers from the problem that all currency has: it is intrinsically worthless, and some would say even harmful, but it is the only solution to the imperfect, dishonest human problem. 

While (as a physician) I'd rather be folding proteins, I think there is a more fundamental problem being solved with bitcoins.  My heart is in it again now.  Thanks again everyone!

Without currency, without a medium of exchange, there would be no civilization to allow you to pursue your desire to fold proteins.  Without an intermediate which is nearly universally demanded there is no division of labor to speak of... there is barter and barter fails at coordinating desires with time.  Commodity money is not intrinsically worthless any more than any other commodity is intrinsically worthless. 

Just because we live in an age of a debased and dishonest money, does not mean that money itself is the problem.  Sound money is the solution to many of our societal problems.
Need2Revolt
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July 15, 2010, 08:53:56 PM
 #11

I also love the idea of a "native online currency" but as others here my hearth is sorry to waste all this electricty, heath and cpu over time.
i know it runs as idle priority, and i'm not leaving my pc on 24/7 for this, but the consumption is bigger than simple cpu idle cycle.
so, since there are no other suitable problems to let our cpu work on, why don't we adopt an existing one (seti or folding at home, for example) and give bitcoin rewards based on time spent on the network, by pinging other nodes at intervals?
sorry if i'm saying some nonsense =)
BitLex
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July 15, 2010, 09:05:25 PM
 #12

theres no need to "waste energy" to use bitcoin, just dont generate blocks.
bitcoin is not about "being rewarded to do something useful", it's about transferring money (or value).
IF you help the network by generating new blocks, you'll get rewarded, but new blocks are not generated by folding proteins.

the network NEEDS coins, so it's USEFUL to generate them, i personally don't see anything wasted here.

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July 15, 2010, 09:09:05 PM
 #13

In my view, you are sort of assigning value to the "work" being done by desiring the bitcoins in the first place... I see it as saying "I want to use these bitcoins to purchase a good or service (or contribute to person or cause) because they are of value to me, by virtue of the fact that I expended a considerable amount of time and electricity to generate them."

I do see your point about the computations themselves not contributing to the greater good in an obvious way, but you could always consider it as a contribution to society in the form of a scarce, secure, anonymous currency.

Or, if it still bothers you, you can always find a good (honest) method by which to gain large quantities of bitcoins, and use them to pay others for running Folding@home, SETI@home, etc. instead of generating coins / transaction fees! Smiley In face, if you wanted to pay me a set amount of BTC per F@H point, I'll switch all my cores over right away... Wink
Need2Revolt
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July 16, 2010, 06:18:02 PM
 #14

thanks to all the replies (also the ones in this thread: http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=203.0 ) i have now a clearer idea.
I also see that this problem is bigger in the initial phase, when there are few bitcoins so we need to generate them, while it will be less important once we reach a big number of coins and the most important thing becomes the exchange.
that problem was the only point keeping me from using bitcoin, so now i guess i'll join your ranks =)
ByteCoin
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July 17, 2010, 04:33:08 AM
 #15

In my recent post on the above mentioned thread, I propose that some useful mathematical problems could serve as the proof of work and I explore some of the properties they would have to have.

I suggest we merge followups with the above thread as they are so similar.

ByteCoin

Follow link below for my post.
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