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FoldingCoin (foldingcoin.net)
158 points by snikeris on Jan 28, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 88 comments



The reason SHA256 was chosen is that it is a hash function. Hash functions are meant to be easy to calculate but difficult or near impossible to reverse and near impossible to optimize.

MD2 was designed by cryptographers and has tons of research regarding it's security. It is now broken.

Protein folding basically has no research regarding it's security as a hash function, because it isn't designed as a hash function.

Protein folding almost certainly has a large optimization problem, an attacker likely could find ways to increase his mining power by orders of magnitude. If the currency became valueable, it is inevitable that someone would make solving this problem constant time.

Now, is making protein folding more a efficient a good thing? Absolutely! But the only way it can be made more efficient is by making this currency useless.

Essentially, the only way this currency can be useful to DNA folding is if the currency becomes useless for securing money.

Edit: It appears that foldingcoin is on top of the bitcoin blockchain so miners aren't even there for consensus. They are simply creating a speculative asset that has an increasing monetary supply that equates to donations to protein folding. The miners are completely unnecessary for security.


> Protein folding almost certainly has large optimization problem, an attacker likely could find ways to increase his mining power by orders of magnitude.

As you mentioned, this is a good thing. And as far as the effects on the currency go, this doesn't seem any different from Bitcoin miners moving from CPUs to GPUs to ASICs.

> If the currency became valueable, it is inevitable that someone would make solving this problem constant time.

Protein folding / structure prediction is NP-complete, so seems unlikely.


>As you mentioned, this is a good thing. And as far as the effects on the currency go, this doesn't seem any different from Bitcoin miners moving from CPUs to GPUs to ASICs.

The optimization "problem" is a problem because it can wipe out the currency. The transition to better hardware was gradual, while a software optimization could literally make one persons CPU more efficient than the rest of the world combined.

>Protein folding / structure prediction is NP-complete, so seems unlikely.

While it may be difficult to actually fold the protein, folding the protein such that it breaks one of the assumptions I listed may be trivial.

If we could simply use NP-hard proven problems as hash functions, we would.


At this point I'd say, good riddance. We'd be out of no longer neccessary cryptocurrency and a lot further ahead in terms of useful research.


And the method for getting there is scamming people with a pump and dump coin (that will almost certainly not accomplish what I mentioned).


I do agree that many altcoins are "pump and dump", as i have been a miner for years now. But also a lot of these altcoins never became incorporated and masked their identities, IPs, ext... We are fully open with who we are, with pictures to our names and we are 100% compliant with US laws, we are a registered non profit with my name and information on their.

That being said, we are held accountable for our actions as many other altcoins are not, which is how they get away with scamming people.

Even if we do fail in the future, we have at least brought the idea of Folding to many miners who had never heard of it before. Look at our team, http://folding.extremeoverclocking.com/team_summary.php?s=&t... but since we allow other team members to earn FLDC, we just hit 21 million FAH credits yesterday making us the 6th fastest FAH team in the program. That is an accomplishment in itself :)


Your lack of an IPO doesn't imply pump and dump. Making an altcoin that is deceptive and speculative.

"Mine Medicine, Not Hashes" implies that this is somehow useful for medicine. It really is just a pump and dump where a portion of the money goes to protein folding.


Actually non of the money goes towards protein folding, its the power of the folders that does. All of the FLDC (money) goes directly to those that fold.

As for the IPO, we dont need one. Since a counterparty asset is very easy to create, our overhead is low. Thats why we are running a fundraiser, we plan on implementing additional features, but really no features are required to distribute FLDC. The features will help better the currency and the economy surrounding the currency, but unless people wish to give us money to do these things, then we will simply keep coding ourselves and distribute FLDC everyday.

Other blockchains require a lot of maintenance and patches, we do not. Almost no overhead


>Actually non of the money goes towards protein folding, its the power of the folders that does. All of the FLDC (money) goes directly to those that fold.

What else could you possible think I meant when I said the money goes towards protein folding?

>Other blockchains require a lot of maintenance and patches, we do not. Almost no overhead

You have the Bitcoin blockchain as overhead and you have the security of the Bitcoin blockchain, however you have created a speculative asset that is Bitcoin plus a mandatory tax for protein folding.


If the system updates difficulty in the way Bitcoin does, they'd get a week's worth of coins quickly, then the difficulty would climb to compensate. That's not a big problem.


I think I might trade a global economic crisis for a fast protein folding algorithm.


But with FLDC, you can have both :) The ASIC miners for Bitcoin cannot fold proteins, we are trying to bring in the Altcoin miners still using CPU and GPUS


"Protein folding / structure prediction is NP-complete, so seems unlikely."

Are you sure about that? I am not sure that a protein structure can be checked in polynomial time, given there is no algorithm to check a protein structure besides manual labor.


You can compute the free energy but that's not cheap. Still that doesn't give you a definitive answer to folded or not folded. It tells you more folded or less folded.


Having a person manually check something is an O(1) operation.


Even for the computer it is Ω(n), because it must transmit the entire problem to the person.


> ASICs.

D. E. Shaw already has a machine for it http://www.dfi.uchile.cl/~jsgonzal/aton.pdf


Ah yes the ANTON :) We would love for this to become readily available to the public. However it is expensive at this point. But I love this source and will be calling this company very soon, thank you.

Here is how we invision the ANTON could become readily available for purchase:

There is no direct translation from one to another, but a common consensus is 1 hash equals 12,700 FLOPS when comparing the 2 side by side http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3AFLOPS#Bitcoin_.22FLOPS.2... . The FAH grid computing network has 46 PetaFLOPS and is known as the world's most powerful computing network outside of the Bitcoin mining network.

Now at the time before ASICs and FPGAs started hitting the market in December 2012, the Hash rate of the BTC network was at 26 TeraHASH’s in mostly GPU and CPU power. Based on a rough comparison 12.7 PetaFLOP = 1 TeraHASH the potential computational power that could be added to FAH is

26 TeraHASH 12.7 PetaFLOPS = 330 PetaFLOPS.

Imagine if that power was harnessed for molecular protein folding. Most of this power was redirected to altcoin mining after the SHA ASICs came out, since there was no profit motive for folding. FoldingCoin looks to bring a profit motive for people to fold proteins by distributing FLDC along with other Counterparty tokens.

Venture capitalists could see this as an opportunity to invest in the creation of economic sized Anton Supercomputer, which is an ASIC molecular protein simulating machine that can fold more efficiently than standard computing hardware. This very thing happened to Bitcoin mining when it became exponentially profitable: venture capitalists invested in the creation of ASIC miners to compute SHA256 at a more efficient rate than standard computing hardware.


Some formulations of protein folding are NP complete. That doesn't mean those models always correspond to reality. There's no evidence that nature is solving an NP hard problem when folding proteins (See the paper NP complete problems and physical reality by Scott Aaronson)


An attacker could alter the amount of points that they receive. It has happened in the past with Folding@home, but they have put measures in place to prevent this from happening again. Although it isnt a guarantee that someone will not find a work around, we would become instantly aware and a patch could be put in place to correct the problem. https://folding.stanford.edu/home/faq/faq-points/#ntoc3

Each core is digitally signed for security reasons and authenticity of a real WU http://folding.stanford.edu/home/faq/#ntoc45


Actually folding is sort-of similar to a one-way function. It's difficult to compute, but easy to verify. The verification is the calculation of the energy.

You give the same protein sequence to multiple miners, and the one with the minimum energy after time X wins the money. This will force the miners to find lowest energy solutions.


Being difficult to compute and easy to verify doesn't meet the full criteria for being a secure hashing function.


The hashing function is the Bitcoin network. FLDC is simply in 140 bytes of data inside a BTC transaction. Thats why we chose to go with Counterparty, all computational power that users donate to the FAH program goes 100% in the project, and the existing miners for BTC are the ones who hash FLDC


Mentioned this in my first post. Basically the currency is a speculative asset that doesn't do anything for DNA folding since the amount you lose from monetary supply increase is could just be donated through bitcoin to DNA folding.


Your right, the currency directly does not do anything, but in the crypto currency space people love the altcions. There are arguments for both sides on the value and the need for altcoins but the fact remains that people mine them.

The way our coin helps is by convincing the mass amount of computational power that is dumped into altcoins that will eventually fade away, or become scam coins, to be better used towards something that will benefit the world.

The BTC miners i do not believe waste energy as they are providing a fantastic transaction ledger.


Who distributes the protein sequences?


Stanford. Indeed, this is centralization. But as others have mentioned, it's much more like "exchange your CPU time for equity in our security" than it is like "participate in our distributed, decentralized currency." No sustainable decentralized currency could use inputs like protein folding, SETI, etc.

Counterparty is really innovative, and this is a great way to leverage it. Unfortunately, it's really easy to confuse with typical altcoins which really use miners.


Well said. A lot of my time in forums is spent explaining the benefits of Counterparty. It is a fantastic platform that allows anyone with any skill set to create an altcoin, known as an asset or token in the CP world.

This is great because it allows our development team to work on features, rather than a blockchain and wallet system that can be very hard for a small team of 5 to maintain. Please read this page if you havent already about the pros and cons of Counterparty http://foldingcoin.net/fldc-vs-alts/


It's not easy to verify at all. Free energy calculations are very expensive.


Real quick, this forum does not allow me to post a lot of responses, so I encourage everyone to email me rross@foldingcoin.net or join in the discussion here https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=781352.0 but i will still answer as often as this forum allows me to per day :)

The miners are there for a reason. Looking at the Counterparty protocol you will see that since the CP assets live inside the individual BTC transactions, that unless the miners verify the transaction to be accepted, then the assets will work in the same way that BTC does and not go through.


You didn't really address why you think the miners are there for a reason, you just asserted it.

Realistically, what you have done here is made a centralized currency in which you issue new coins for yourself then we trust you donate the coins to protein folding.

We can already donate to protein folding with Bitcoin so I don't see much use in making an altcoin that does it in a less useful way.


The miners are there because Counterparty assets are built inside of the bitcoin blockchain. So without the miners hashing the blockchain, the transactions for CP assets (FLDC) will not go through.

As for why not just donate to standford? You absolutely could and i am sure they would love that :) But we are trying to harness the 330 PetaFLOPS of CPU and GPU computational power used in the other altcoins. So by giving an incentive to fold to the miners, the hopes are they will move over to folding, rather than hashing at blockchains that in many cases die off or get abandoned.


A decentralized digital currency where the proof-of-work has a second utility having a great commercial value (such as folding proteins) would be quite frankly revolutionary and would have a good chance at displacing Bitcoin.

But FoldingCoin is not that currency, because there is a huge downside in their design: they had to completely give up decentralization, which is the primary innovation and differentiator that block chain-based currencies like Bitcoin bring. Instead, FoldingCoin relies on the Stanford University Folding@home network, on the stats reported by this network, to distribute units of the currency proportionately to the amount of work. This means the Folding@home network could alter the distribution of coins at will, if it is attacked by hackers (likely), or if it operates maliciously (less likely). This means FoldingCoin would be unable to continue operating the day a single entity (the university) decides to stop running the Folding@home network. And so on. All the inconvenients and risks of centralization exist with FoldingCoin.

Trust me, I really wish it would be possible to design a decentralized digital currency built on a protein-folding proof-of-work, but so far nobody has found a way to do this in a decentralized way.

Edit: they openly acknowledge the fact FoldingCoin is not decentralized, see http://foldingcoin.net/fldc-vs-alts/ : "With Counterparty there is no current way of doing decentralized asset creation and issuance"

Edit #2: in theory a decentralized currency based on a protein-folding proof-of-work can exist and would work this way: compute a hash of a block of pending transactions and of the previous block hash (like Bitcoin). Use the resulting hash as a seed to deterministically generate a set of protein-folding problems. Miners try to solve them. Once a sufficient amount of these problems is solved (depending on a "difficulty factor"), broadcast the solutions and the transactions on the network, hence creating a new hash for the next set of protein folding problems. I don't know very much about protein folding, but as I understand the open problems are: (1) how to deterministically generate a set of useful protein-folding problems according to rules that should stay immutable for decades (you can't ask the participants to have to frequently update their mining software because consensus on these rules is hard to change), and (2) how to reduce the size of the solutions data published to the network every block without overflowing it (it is my understanding that protein folding would generate way more than a few hundred kilobytes every 10min which is the current average Bitcoin block size).


Hello, this is Robert with FoldingCoin :) I love that this discussion is here and I am replying to these comments right now.

There is no way of decentralizing with the Counterparty platform. I encourage everyone to read all of the great features that you get by being on Counterparty in the same link provided by @mrb. We feel also including the downsides is crucial to have a better understanding of what we are trying to accomplish.

Though we have measures in place to deal with the centralization issue we currently have:

1. We are incorporated as a Non profit in Indiana and we report to the government. We are 100% transparent about everything that we do. If we are to have malicious intentions, then we would be held accountable against the government.

2. We are setting up a board of directors to control the undistributed FLDC that we currently hold. This probably will not become a reality until the end of the year, but we are working on it. The first step was to become an official non profit found here https://secure.in.gov/sos/online_corps/name_search_results.a...


Why are you creating a digital currency and distributing this to Folding@Home participants? What's the point of this? Why would I want FoldingCoins?

Why not collect donations (in usable currency), and give that out to Folding@Home workers?


Please read here http://foldingcoin.net/alttokens/ for a complete detail on the benefits of adding crypto currency to FAH. Also you can watch this 26 minute video (i still have to edit, but the information is there https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adROavBst7E and it goes into grave detail on the benefits


> Please read here http://foldingcoin.net/alttokens/ for a complete detail on the benefits of adding crypto currency to FAH.

I have read this, and I'm still not sure I understand exactly what you're trying to do.

You create a crypto-currency, distribute it to people who do something valuable (protein folding), and then hope other people will start valuing this crypto-currency, so that the folders can sell their coins into the market and make a profit. Is this correct?


We do not want this to be your everyday "buy and sell coin", as you can see on https://www.poloniex.com/exchange#btc_fldc when we arrived there, we had high value, but like all other altcoins, our value dropped.

This is the nature of the altcoins.

However, we are working on 2 projects that will give this token value:

1. Creating this as a Meetup currency 2. Creating a ebay type martketplace for this coin (and any counterparty token) to be used to buy and sell goods

We are releasing our white paper by Feb 5th and it will go into great detail on how we will accomplish this, but basically since we do not have to create our own QR scans, transaction system, blockchain, ext... we can simply input the open source Counterparty features to create a decentralized Meetup currency and marketplace.

I know that is not a lot of information, but please give me until the 5th to post the white paper here. At this point, i do not expect the non crypto communities to fully understand what we are trying to do, but this is a very appealing coin to those that mine for whatever personal reasons they have to mine.


Is it even possible to have a decentralized currency where the mining problem isn't directly related to the maintenance of the ledger? Won't people just be incentivized to mine rather than preventing double spends, and the like?


The counterparty protocol is built inside of the Bitcoin network. All assets (including FLDC) are built on this platform. It houses the assets inside of the Bitcoin network by using the 140 bytes of unused data in every BTC transaction. So everytime you send or receive FLDC, you will notice it shows up in the blockchain as a 0.00006 BTC transaction. This actually represents the Counterparty asset. http://blockscan.com/ is a site that decrypts this information and displays it as the assets, blockchain.info will only see it as a BTC transaction.

So this prevents the double spend, because Counterparty is secured by the BTC miners, so the hashing power of the BTC miners is the same as the Counterparty assets. Only an attack on the Bitcoin network would affect FLDC


I don't thinks so.

The proof of work needs to be tied to the block. It also needs to be very quick to verify but hard to compute (like getting a hash under a certain value). With scientific problems, you may need to solve a problem, then ever node on the network solves the same problem to verify what you did - which would waste a hell of a lot of resources!


We actually just had a double spend try and happen to us. I cannot show you the links, because the blockchain already ignored them.

What happened was:

We run a fundraiser for helping in the expansion of foldingcoin http://foldingcoin.net/fundraising/ and we use a company called Vennd.io to help in this fundraiser.

What happens is someone will send BTC to a certain address, and in return they are given an amount of 1 FLDC per every 0.00001 BTC they donated. Someone recently tried to double spend a BTC transaction to trick Counterparty into giving them double the FLDC in return for their BTC. However since the double BTC was denied, so was the double FLDC.

I tweeted about it, but its no longer in the blockchain, here is the tweet https://twitter.com/FoldingCoin/status/558704804449771520 when it was solved, and here was the first tweet about the actual transaction https://twitter.com/FoldingCoin/status/558073025468567553


> A decentralized digital currency where the proof-of-work has a second utility having a great commercial value (such as folding proteins) would be quite frankly revolutionary and would have a good chance at displacing Bitcoin.

Why?

Let's say someone were to solve the protein folding 20 years from now. It would no longer be a challenge. This would mean the crypto-currency that used the once-hard problem of protein folding would no longer work, as the mining problem would no longer be difficult.

I think a crypto-currency is much better off doing something useless, as the worst thing that can happen to a crypto-currency is mining no longer being difficult. We want mining to solve the most difficult problem there is: breaking hash functions. Not solving something that has a greater chance of being solved, because it would mean the end of the crypto-currency.

We need something that we think and hope will stay difficult for as long as possible. Hopefully, protein folding will not stay difficult, because there are immense advantages to it being easy.


Protein folding can't be "solved". For a small protein of 100 amino acids, there are 2^432 (20^100) possible combinations (http://xray.bmc.uu.se/~lars/biowww/Proteinfolds.html). Bitcoin's SHA256 has only 2^256 possible values. So in a practical sense protein folding is a harder problem that Bitcoin mining.


Under the assumption that protein folding does get solved, we will simply transfer to the next humanitarian distributed computing platform out there.

We would not even have to decide what this is, we could leave it up to the holders of FLDC. We have a voting system (something that a traditional Altcoin cannot do) that allows us to distribute vote tokens to FLDC holders. http://foldingcoin.net/fldc-voting/

I hope protein folds fun out, then we would understand damn near everything about the human body, then i guess my next vote would be to help SETI and discover the aliens :D


There is already such a currency, it is called gridcoin.

The network consensus is reached by Proof of Stake instead of Proof of work, so no computational cycles are "wasted" on proof of work. But how much stake you get with is also determined by the amount of research you contribute to the BOINC group gridcoin relative to the total research done in this group. See further details there:

http://wiki.gridcoin.us/Proof-of-Research

So there is two ways to mine gridcoin: with the normal proof of stake, which means you get an interest rate whenever you use your votes to secure the network and an additional "proof of research" bonus that you get with the stakes and that depends on your relative contribution to the gridcoin-BOINC team: http://boincstats.com/en/stats/-1/team/detail/118094994/over...

There are certain projects whitelisted, folding@home is one of them but there are many more.

What makes this even more interesting is the idea of commercial BOINC projects. As soon as you have a system where the inflation/money printing process depends on the computation power given to BOINC, BOINC projects to forecast stocks, AI, general machine learning tasks.. could also be created. Then this would be the first currency that has internal value, because the money in the inflation process does not come out of thin air but is based on computing power that is either used for science or for computing projects that deliever value.

The forum where the development is discussed is here: https://cryptocointalk.com/forum/464-gridcoin-grc/


Gridcoin's proof-of-research is not decentralized: it relies on the BOINC project servers. So it shares all the same centralization flaws as FoldingCoin which relies on the Folding@Home servers.

Gridcoin is a little different because if you remove the BOINC project servers, it is not centralized anymore, and only relies on proof-of-stake. But this would make it no different that the many proof-of-stake altcoins that already exist.


yes that is correct, the currency itself is decentraliced but the amount how much you mine additionally ("Proof of Research") depends on the BOINC project servers.


In addition to all the Boinc work Gridcoin does, there is a real opportunity for commercial/custom Boinc projects like 3D rendering, stock options analysis and almost any kind of simulation you can think of. The potential here is endless. It is true that Boinc kinda makes Gridcoin a little bit centralized, but the benefits that are yielded are worth it I think.


This "little bit" of centralization makes Gridcoin sufficiently brittle that it completely annihilates its chance of being widely successful AND stable.

Here is a thought experiment for you to understand: imagine if Gridcoin was as big and as valuable as Bitcoin, which has about $1 million dollars worth of bitcoins mined every day. A good chunk of this million dollars would be distributed based on BOINC rankings. So many people would be interested in gaining control of the BOINC servers. They could either hack them. Or they could offer to outright purchase the domain names and entity managing them, maybe they would even hire the staff running the servers. They would give appearances of operating legitimately at first. But eventually they would interfere with the rankings for their own financial benefits, either plainly maliciously, or with excuses to appear semi-legitimate (they could say "since we run the BOINC servers, we deserve a share of the profits"). The Gridcoin community would be upset and disagree with this. Maybe they would try to abandon trusting these BOINC servers, but how? They would not all agree on a solution. This would create forks in the chain. Maybe they would try to set up a new entity to run a new set of BOINC servers. At this point the situation is a mess and is no different than Ripple/Stellar to whom this exact scenario happened: part of the Ripple community abandoned Ripple and followed Jed McCaleb's Stellar fork.

Morale of the story: absolute power corrupts absolutely. You cannot give power to a central entity (BOINC servers) to control distribution of money. This is too much trust and is bound to break at some point.

And in addition to these social problems caused by centralization, what about the technical ones? What happens when the BOINC servers are down, ie. under DoS attack? How do you resolve gridcoin transaction conflicts which could be resolved by looking up the BOINC ratings? The whole gridcoin network would be unable to operate due to a few servers being down. On the other hand, a true distributed currency like Bitcoin does not depend at all on a single server. This is why being 100% fully distributed is incredibly superior to being 90% distributed like Gridcoin. Even if it was made 99% distributed, the 1% of centralization is what will eventually hamper it.


1) if the BOINC project servers were down then gridcoin would continue to function as a normal PoS coin and when they are online again you get the PoR bonus again

2) I think the BOINC foundation is very trustworthy and the advantages of contrubuting to science outweigh the disadvantages. Also BOINC itself is totally independent from gridcoin and well financed on its own for the public good of citizens contributing their computing power to science, so if they would tinker with the stats they lose their credibility and this would have consequences for them, eg. loss of fundingg or another team being funded to run the project servers, the software is open source anyway.


1) When the BOINC servers come under DoS attack while gridcoin nodes are downloading the rankings, some nodes will have the rankings data, some will fail to get it. This would fork the gridcoin chain because some nodes will take into account the PoR bonuses (and all transactions using these coins), while others will reject them because they were unable to confirm the BOINC rankings. This fork would in effect break the gridcoin network until the BOINC servers come back online.

2) You can be as honest as possible, but many people still won't trust you. This is precisely why, eg., Stellar is not trusted and not embraced more widely, despite being set up as a non-profit foundation, with a charter, a voting system, being completely transparent, etc. People and companies around the world (especially those with a tendency to have anti-USA views) may not trust BOINC (hence gridcoin) because BOINC is operated in and funded by the USA. Do you think most, say, Chinese companies would be willing to fully embrace gridcoin, knowing it relies heavily on a US-based project like BOINC? No!

I can see your viewpoint though. People who care about science and who may already be BOINC users would probably like gridcoin. But most people in the world (unfortunately) don't care that much about BOINC, and when given the choice of Bitcoin or Gridcoin, they would probably go with the former (if only because of their anti-USA views, or because Bitcoin is already more widely accepted).


We love gridcoin as they are a different platform. Being able to payout the same crypto for BOINC and FAH would be hard because the credits values are different.

You simply could not say half the Gridcoins go to BOINC and half go to FAH because what if there are more users on FAH in compared to BOINC?

Also POS has its issues like POW does: if someone controls half of the currency, then they could attack the network. At this point.. it would be very easy for somone with a couple thousands of dollars to buy half of the Gridcoin out there and perform the attack, its very expensive to buy half of the BTC mining hashrate.

BOINC has not released this system yet, it is still in the works and i look forward to seeing how it would work. Even though FLDC is centralized to an extent, every possibly solution dealing with BOINC and FAH has centralization leaks, just different degrees.

Also with BOINC, anyone can create a project to work on. Someone could potentially create a cron job application masked as lets say a protein folding aplication to harness BOINC power for not only A. Gridcoins but B. computational power used for something malicous like cracking email passwords. This bad actor would then gain two benefits.

Though after awhile BOINC may discover this and remove them, the possability for even a days worth of work could be problematic. Dont get me wrong, I love BOINC, but for this system to work, they would need to have an approved list of specific projects one could work on to receive Gridcoin.


Not all BOINC projects count toward the gridcoin score, only whitelisted projects.


Fair enough, i did not know that, and i do love Gridcoin as they are supporting a different platform than us. I wish them the best of luck, though i do think they should move over to Counterparty rather than a new POS blockchain they have been creating.


> BOINC projects to forecast stocks (...) could also be created.

That particular project would, IMO, defeat the whole purpose of gridcoin. The whole idea is to have computation do something actually useful, and if we'd be directing it into stocks (especially gridcoin stocks), it would be no different than bitcoin - i.e. wasting increasing amount of electricity just to support the very process of wasting it.


what do you mean with gridcoin stocks?

It's not cryptocurrency stocks but real world stocks, so yes you might argue about the benefit of these but there's certainly already a lot of money being made in this area.

But yes as of now all supported projects are science projects.


What if they kept a decentralized part and sort of "plug in" the proof of work part? They could have a fallback proof of work method s.t. if the outsourced proof of work fails they can keep the network running and call a decentralized voting to replace the source.


Primecoin (http://primecoin.io/) has been out for a long time. It's a decentralised cryptocurrency which uses prime number chains as its proof-of-work. I don't think it revolutionised anything, but some mathematicians were a little excited when it was released.


Note that prime coin computes an archane form of primes that is of questionable value to anyone.


Is this basically replacing Bitcoins and their proof-of-[useless]-work mining with a new currency whose proof-of-work is useful work (IE, FAH)?

If this is viable, it would be pretty grand. As cool as Bitcoin is, it's sad to me that it just eats up energy/computation time to ground its value. Imagine if all that computation time were put to good, scientific use while still providing the same proof-of-work benefit.


Unfortunately, it's not viable. Proof of work needs to be "wasteful" (if you can consider validating transactions and keeping the network safe wasteful). I don't understand why so many people get angry at Bitcoin's use electricity and not at say, VISA's, or any other entity that isn't curing cancer.


Why do you say the proof of work needs to be "wasteful". The way I see it there are three major things:

1) It's hard to compute an answer (in bitcoin a low hash)

2) It's easy to verify an answer

3) The starting parameters can not be dictated by previous winners (the hash of the block in bitcoin)

This does not dictate that it can not be useful, in fact prime coin (http://primecoin.io/) could be used as an example of a cryptocurrency that has a moderately useful proof of work.

One proof of work could be based off of protein folding, however the parameters need to be chosen pesudo randomly or an attacker could store up a chain of multiple valid proofs of work then unlease a long chain all at once. So we can not direct the work, but the work can be done in a larger fertile space.


I would say primecoin is marginally useful at best.


I'm not angry about it, but I like to minimise waste. Visa wants to, and is better if it it can, minimise its computational overhead. Bitcoin is dependent on computational overhead. Seems like a very different situation.

I'm no expert--maybe it is necessary that the computation have no benefit other than being costly--but I don't understand why. If it does, I would welcome an explanation, though I recognize it's not your responsibility to educate me on the finer details of Bitcoin. :-)


The reason it is costly, is because it needs to be costly (sorry for the circular logic). ~3600 Bitcoin is given away each day to miners, which means that rational actors in the mining network are going to be able to spend that same amount in power on mining (~1M USD). That money is put into the Bitcoin network, as prevention of some kind of exploits on the blockchain. An attacker would need to spend that much in order to be able to fork the blockchain for any period of time.

As far as why it needs to have no benefit, the main reason is that the state of the blockchain needs to be transferred into a hard problem of some kind in order for the proof-of-work to work. You can think of each attempt at solving it is a "vote" for that particular version of the blockchain. If everyone could vote very fast on their own particular version of the blockchain, then it would very quickly pollute the bitcoin network, and consensus would be very difficult to achieve. If, instead each vote could be scored some way (randomly), and only one out of every thousand one of your votes for the state of the blockchain is broadcast to the bitcoin network, then that means it's going to be much less polluted, and much easier to come to some kind of consensus. By being random, the fact that you are able to send a vote at one out of every thousand, means that each vote really represents 1000 votes. This is how bitcoin works, but the thousand is a much larger number (200,000,000,000,000,000,000).

In the naive implementation, the proof of work could be done by having a function f(x) producing a number in [0, 1) based on x (and f is irreversible), and then submitting votes that are below/above some threshold. Suppose f is the protein folding problem, and f(x) is some energy on how well you folded it (I don't really know how folding works, but bear with me). The problem with this is you could sit in your basement for several weeks and solve a bunch of these problems, and then all at once use them to fork the blockchain by having several blocks that have a proof of work assigned. This means that the work that's being done needs to be related to the state of the blockchain that you're voting on somehow. Another way, is that there needs to be a function w : b -> f where b is the blockchain state that you are voting on, and it produces f. In bitcoin, this w function is the merkle tree of all the transactions in it, and f is sha2(sha2(blockheader with the merkle tree and x)). This step is what makes it very difficult to "do actual work" when mining, since it's hard to make a hard problem that is dependent on random data, that's actually useful.


Well, the fact that Visa are able to do four orders of magnitude more transactions that Bitcoin, at a minimum, indicates they're at least a great deal more efficient.


First of all, the number of transactions Bitcoin can make per unit of time is not set in stone, it depends on certain variables that will be adjusted over time. And it is a distributed system anyway, what did you expect? You can't have both the resilience of a distributed system, and the efficiency of a centralized one.

And second, you are comparing apples to oranges. Try comparing VISA (built on top closed networks and decades of bureaucracy) to services like Coinbase/Bitpay (built on top of Bitcoin) and we'll see who's more efficient.


There is also Proof of Stake to secure the network, which does not waste electricity as much and on top of that the amount of stake you get for each vote to secure the network could also be made dependent on the amount of work you do for a science project as measured by BOINC.

The identification of which user gets what amount of "Proof of research" bonus is done via hashed BOINC email, as the email in BOINC is private and cannot be accessed by others.

See my other post about gridcoin.


But this has two issues if i am reading this right:

1. Since only Gridcoin has the information of the users, than what is to prevent them from creating fake accounts that they themselves hold and paying themselves more Gridcoins?

2. Unless if every single donor has an encrypted Comodo (or something similar) email with Gridcoin, then emails can be stolen. And if gridcoin becomes valuable enough and emails are not encrypted, then its a sure thing that they will be stolen.


There is not "also Proof of Stake", because it's a flawed concept. What's at stake? Nothing. You can sell your coins before starting an attack, so you wouldn't be attacking yourself like you would with Bitcoin and proper mining. Might as well just use the USD or bottle caps as currency.


Heres a good analogy:

Visa and the banks are the old way of doing things, they are analog. Blockchain technology and Bitcoin are digital.

Years ago when analog signals had no longer been useful and became outdated, it became a law that all signal for television must be broadcast in digital. This was because analog required so much more energy and bandwidth then digital does.

What bitcoin offers is a replacement for all the energy and resources that are poured into money transmitters, banks, credit cards, and even recently wall street. The technology is expensive to run, but not more expensive than all of the above combined.

And to answer the question of transactions per second, the Bitcoin network is endless. The problem isnt how many transactions can you do, the problem is storage. The blockchain currently is 25 GBs of data that must be stored by many nodes. Though not everyone has to have a nod, if many do not and only big companies do, then it can become once again centralized. Even though 25 GBs is not that much, that is with only around 100-200,000 transactions a day in the BTC network. Visa does 2,000 a second alone.

So if the blockchain was to transact 2,000 a second, you are looking at PB hard drives in a year or so. That is the issue to be concerned with. here is a great article for reading on possibly solutions / problems https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Scalability


>Imagine if all that computation time were put to good, scientific use while still providing the same proof-of-work benefit.

Cryptographic hashes have the unique property that their difficulty is quite predictable, which is an absolute necessity for PoW based voting systems (like Bitcoin). I don't believe there are any known scientific computation problems that have the same desirable PoW properties as a cryptographic hash algorithm.


Also, they must be a lottery, in that it's lots of "easy" problems that have a small chance. Otherwise it weakens the "50% attack" by meaning that someone with the most computing power can efficiently "hard" problem much more reliably, rather than the their percentage of the total computing power.


This is a terrible idea for several reasons, the chief of which is the fact that the difficulty of protein folding simulations is not easily predicted. One consequence of this is that if someone were to develop a more efficient algorithm for protein folding, they could easily dominate the mining market and pull off a 51% attack. You could argue that this might have a positive societal impact, but it would also probably destroy the foldingcoin network.

The reason Bitcoin (and most/all other good proof-of-work systems) use repeated application of a cryptographic hash is that it's A) very predictable how long finding a solution will take (on average) and B) unlikely that someone will destroy the proof-of-work system by inventing a more efficient method of calculating the hash.


Where there is profit there is competition. As a miner years ago, i was able to produce a lot of bitcoins with my GPU setup. When the ASICs came out i tried to compete, but simply did not have the capital. But other people did. And it wasnt just one person, it was a few big companies that did this.

So no longer is the individual able to mine BTC, its now a profession. So if this happened to FLDC, that wouldnt really be a bad thing, because if it is to happen, then that would mean FLDC has gained enough value for someone to pour money into being the top folder. So then the economy of FLDC would be where the general public has the interest and the Folders would simply be a profession.


Proof-of-work having secondary commercial utility is troublesome because it can result in a situation where the secondary utility becomes more valuable than the former, in which case the currency is liable to collapse.

I tend to think that proof-of-work must be inherently useless in order for it to function for this reason - otherwise, it's not 'work'.


I disagree. I think that Counterparty adds value to the Bitcoin platform. I envision BTC almost being like gold, not something that will ultimately be used everyday. I think a token built inside of Counterparty will be that everyday used token.

Its kind of like the internet, the original value of the internet was to transfer files from point A to point B. Then came: email, the browser, instant messaging, online shopping, social media, streaming, ext.....

This adds additional value to the Bitcoin blockchain thus making it more desirable to have.

But i do agree that the miners should work on useless algorithms, that is the best way to keep it just and fair, but building applications inside of that is just fantastic


I recently was reading up on folding again. I thought, wouldn't it be great if people could manage to combine protein folding for a good cause with bitcoin mining. Cool idea.


For a similar concept, there's also Gridcoin which uses the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing as it's proof of work.

http://gridcoin.us/


Sounds like http://primecoin.io/about.php but more widely useful. Good luck @PookTwo!


Has anyone done the math to know if this is profitable in terms of power spent to mine vs mined coin value?


This will be dominated by the price, which has been going down in the last 2 weeks [1].

[1]https://www.poloniex.com/exchange#btc_fldc


Really decentralized cryptographically secured rewards for advancing research: Gridcoin (intro at http://uscore.net)


"Useful proof-of-work" is still less desirable for the coin holders than proof-of-stake, so capital will move out of this coin and into a POS coin


Seems harder to solve algorithmically, rather than as a single private company with clients who rent hardware / CPU / GPU time for hire.


Can the result of one of these "Work Units" be easily checked for correctness? Or does someone have to redo the work to confirm?


if you are a certified medical researcher you can request to review the WUs. Many might not produce real results, but in the words of thomas edison:

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.




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