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Author Topic: Why don't we use the computing power for something useful?  (Read 4108 times)
s00pafly
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May 16, 2011, 08:14:12 PM
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From my point of understanding mining does not fulfill any particular purpose, it only exists to give bitcoins a value. I was thinking wouldn't it be possible to do real life applications, like boinc projects (seti@home etc.), with the computing power provided by the bitcoin network.
The difficulty would then be more like a probability to generate a new block, when you processed a certain amount of data.
Of course this would include some major changes in the protocol but since the network is already pretty big and growing, there lies a huge potential.
Universities or other facilities that like their data being crunched, would be more than happy if they could design applications for such a powerful network. And we (the miners) would do something better with our hardware than just heating the room to get coins.
Maybe Bitcoin could help cure cancer.
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May 16, 2011, 08:16:40 PM
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From my point of understanding mining does not fulfill any particular purpose, it only exists to give bitcoins a value. I was thinking wouldn't it be possible to do real life applications, like boinc projects (seti@home etc.), with the computing power provided by the bitcoin network.
The difficulty would then be more like a probability to generate a new block, when you processed a certain amount of data.
Of course this would include some major changes in the protocol but since the network is already pretty big and growing, there lies a huge potential.
Universities or other facilities that like their data being crunched, would be more than happy if they could design applications for such a powerful network. And we (the miners) would do something better with our hardware than just heating the room to get coins.
Maybe Bitcoin could help cure cancer.
The computing power pointed towards doing "nothing useful" helps secure the network by forcing an attacker to use more computing power to crack it.  If we integrated some other software into it, it could prove to decrease the security of the network.
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May 16, 2011, 08:32:42 PM
 #3

..
And we (the miners) would do something better with our hardware than just heating the room to get coins.
...
we (the miners) don't heat our rooms to "get coins",
we (the miners) make it possible to transfer coins,
that we're getting coins for doing it is just a nice side-effect (but for most people the only reason to do it).

up to you if you think trying to help cure some diseases is better or worse than creating a free money system (free like free of control).
pro money-system is, that you can make profit of it,
not sure about any pros of folding, besides heating rooms of course. Grin

s00pafly
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May 16, 2011, 09:00:36 PM
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I didn't mean to integrate some other software, i was just hoping that it would be possible to calculate something else than generate a random number and look if it's below a certain value. But if the security of the network depends on that, i think this pretty much ends my glorious thoughts.

I think it is by far better to cure some diseases than to create a free money system, but why not go for both?
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May 16, 2011, 09:46:24 PM
 #5

I think it is by far better to cure some diseases than to create a free money system, but why not go for both?

Agreed. Which is why I spent a lot of time thinking about this.

Apart from the answers above which are valid, I would add that even if it were possible to compute something beneficial (proteome folding etc.) while keeping the same level of security, you would still be left with the following problem: currencies that are based on a commodity that has an independent value (or an intrinsic value) are more volatile because the price may fluctuate based on the demand for this commodity.

A good example is silver, it was once used as the de facto world currency - just look at the name of money in various languages: French: 'argent', Irish 'airgead' etc. - but it would be a bad idea to use it as a currency now because industrial demand, which has been rising for silver in recent years due to usage in high-end technology and medicine, fluctuates over time. The central bank has less ability (minimal at the best of times) to control inflation etc.

In the bitcoin situation, what if you decided find find a cure for cancer? What if cancer were cured? What would you do then? Replace the 'project' arbitrarily? Who would decide, and how would you keep them impartial? How would this affect the bitcoin market?

I've just thought of another example that I can't figure out. Why not just find large primes? You certainly wouldn't run out of work so it will certainly last a while, and you would think that it would be relatively demand-neutral. Any thoughts?


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May 16, 2011, 10:00:20 PM
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I didn't mean to integrate some other software, i was just hoping that it would be possible to calculate something else than generate a random number and look if it's below a certain value. But if the security of the network depends on that, i think this pretty much ends my glorious thoughts.

I think it is by far better to cure some diseases than to create a free money system, but why not go for both?

because your idea would have to rely on a central authority.

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anisoptera
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May 16, 2011, 11:28:02 PM
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I've just thought of another example that I can't figure out. Why not just find large primes? You certainly wouldn't run out of work so it will certainly last a while, and you would think that it would be relatively demand-neutral. Any thoughts?



Much like folding proteins, verifying that a number is prime is symmetrical. The hard part of finding prime numbers is factoring them to find out if they're prime or not. It isn't any easier for you to verify that the number I say is prime, is prime, than it is for me to find out in the first place.

It takes trillions of attempts to find a magic number that will cause the block hash to have X leading 0 bits in it, but you only have to hash the block once to verify that.

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BitLex
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May 16, 2011, 11:57:12 PM
 #8

I think it is by far better to cure some diseases than to create a free money system,
thing is, you are not curing any diseases, you're just trying to and it's likely that you'll never have any success and will instead only waste energy,
we (the miners), on the other hand, are already successful, it's alive, the free money system exists and works for anyone, because of our work.

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May 17, 2011, 02:26:21 AM
 #9

From my point of understanding mining does not fulfill any particular purpose, it only exists to give bitcoins a value...

That is not entirely correct. Mining finds blocks. That is all mining does.

For now, the person (or people) to find a block get a reward. Over time that reward will decrease until it eventually goes away. However, finding a block also allows transactions to be processed.

Without miners blocks wouldn't be completed, and without a completed block you'd never be able to send bitcoins to anyone.

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May 17, 2011, 02:33:59 AM
 #10

I think it is by far better to cure some diseases than to create a free money system, but why not go for both?

In the short term, perhaps, but a free money system can affect everyone, sick or healthy. We'll each also be in a better position to help other people when we are all economically free.
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May 17, 2011, 02:43:55 AM
 #11

If there is some way to solve another problem while you look for blocks then great do it and tell others how.

If there isn't or you can't figure out how then choose a problem to work on.

Don't go to the pants forum and tell them they should make socks.

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jamesb
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May 18, 2011, 12:58:01 PM
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One thing you can do is to not mine but you can sell your computer power for bitcoins. I've already think about something like this, like a grid. You could do a pool which don't solve blocks but instead solve some problems that someone has paid for an answer. It may be based on the computer power used. It's only an idea so my answer may be out of the subject.
martinderm
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May 18, 2011, 05:40:30 PM
 #13

Oh no another noob Cheesy

I've now spent several hours wrapping my head about Bitcoins and Mining.

What I find quite strange is that the complexity to find a Block is (more or less) artificially increased if the computing power of the miner-collective inreases to achive one block every 10 minutes. So the Miners do more computing without any direct benfit for the system except for a lower probability that one single entity can control more than half of the processing power. Wouldn't it be more elegant to just force them "on hold" or something like that so that they don't consume more energy than necessary?

I am sure many intelligent people have thought about that and there is a very good reason why the system works as it does. Maybe smeone cares to enlighten me?
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May 18, 2011, 06:01:37 PM
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Oh no another noob Cheesy

I've now spent several hours wrapping my head about Bitcoins and Mining.

What I find quite strange is that the complexity to find a Block is (more or less) artificially increased if the computing power of the miner-collective inreases to achive one block every 10 minutes. So the Miners do more computing without any direct benfit for the system except for a lower probability that one single entity can control more than half of the processing power. Wouldn't it be more elegant to just force them "on hold" or something like that so that they don't consume more energy than necessary?

I am sure many intelligent people have thought about that and there is a very good reason why the system works as it does. Maybe smeone cares to enlighten me?
The problem is in the details.  Any miner who wants to make money isn't actually looking for more mining power directly (as you point out) but is instead looking to gain a greater percentage of the total mining power (which, by extension makes them want more mining power).  The problem is that as long as people want a bigger share of the power (its free money, who doesnt want it?), no one will settle for their current power, making the network keep growing.

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May 18, 2011, 06:20:05 PM
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I am sure many intelligent people have thought about that and there is a very good reason why the system works as it does.
Yes, there is.
Quote
Maybe smeone cares to enlighten me?

Only you, try reading the forum, the wiki or the FAQ first.  If you still have questions, come back.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

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May 18, 2011, 06:32:30 PM
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Let's imagine that the proof-of-work calculation, instead of being a "useless" hashing of data, was to do with folding proteins for cancer research. That sounds great in theory, but there are a few of problems with this.

1) Protein folding is just as intensive to verify as it is to compute in the first place.
2) Eventually a cure will be found for cancer and we are now back to doing "useless" work.
3) As our knowledge of the domain increases, it seems likely that some way would be found to break the system, where break means it is vulnerable to an attack that takes longer than brute force.
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May 18, 2011, 06:54:55 PM
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because it's my computer and my power

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May 18, 2011, 07:30:56 PM
 #18

Some people have mentioned folding protines, and what happens when a cure is found.
What about working on a way to integrate all boinc projects into the miner and some how make the hashes with boinc work units.
I don't know enough about codeing and distributed computing and cryptograpy, but it seems like there should be someone out there smart enough to make it happen.

I realize many see the processing of transactions as the useful computation, I don't see the harm in helping other projects while were at it (other than the security of the network, so work on making it able to calculate other projects more securly), Bitcoin will be the most powerfull distributed computer in the world, utilize it to its maximum potential.  It could bring more people to support bitcoin.  Its not impossible, its complicated 

Set up the same thing..
http://bit.ly/btcrefs
Get more bitcoins.
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May 18, 2011, 07:33:58 PM
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Some people have mentioned folding protines, and what happens when a cure is found.
What about working on a way to integrate all boinc projects into the miner and some how make the hashes with boinc work units.
I don't know enough about codeing and distributed computing and cryptograpy, but it seems like there should be someone out there smart enough to make it happen.

I realize many see the processing of transactions as the useful computation, I don't see the harm in helping other projects while were at it (other than the security of the network, so work on making it able to calculate other projects more securly), Bitcoin will be the most powerfull distributed computer in the world, utilize it to its maximum potential.  It could bring more people to support bitcoin.  Its not impossible, its complicated 

Anything worth throwing computing power at is probably not easily verifiable. The biggest benefit to the hashing method is that it is very hard to compute, but very easy to verify.
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May 18, 2011, 08:08:09 PM
 #20

Some people have mentioned folding protines, and what happens when a cure is found.
What about working on a way to integrate all boinc projects into the miner and some how make the hashes with boinc work units.
I don't know enough about codeing and distributed computing and cryptograpy, but it seems like there should be someone out there smart enough to make it happen.

I realize many see the processing of transactions as the useful computation, I don't see the harm in helping other projects while were at it (other than the security of the network, so work on making it able to calculate other projects more securly), Bitcoin will be the most powerfull distributed computer in the world, utilize it to its maximum potential.  It could bring more people to support bitcoin.  Its not impossible, its complicated 

Being serious here...

Maybe these other community projects should help the bitcoin network. I download the 'protine' project, but might also run hashes 10 minutes out of every hour (user setting). In this way you get paid to help out other projects.

good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment
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