Cryptocurrency mining to advance science
Today many cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin use mining algorithms in order to establish consensus and to reward entities with newly minted bitcoins. Unfortunately, these mining algorithms are very inefficient and consume large quantities of energy. It would be better if these mining algorithms did computations which are useful in ways other than simply establishing consensus. Cryptocurrency mining algorithms need to be designed to reward entities with coins as a reward for solving an important scientific problem instead of simply establishing consensus.
Here are some things that people can do to help promote cryptocurrencies with mining algorithms that are designed to advance science.
0. The cryptocurrency community also need to establish a good attitude about scientific mining algorithms. It is a terrible thing to automatically discount cryptocurrency mining algorithms that are designed to advance science for no reason whatsoever. This sort of attitude is the attitude of someone who does not appreciate science.
1. The cryptocurrency community needs to become more educated about the purpose of mining algorithms and the conditions that mining algorithms need to satisfy. No. One cannot just use any computational problem as a cryptocurrency mining problem. Mining algorithms need to satisfy somewhat technical conditions. This education will come from simply reading the Bitcoin whitepaper.
2. Mathematicians and computer scientists need to start researching mining algorithms that are designed to advance science. Today, there are far too many mathematicians who are doing mathematical research that they know is completely useless. Half of the mathematicians are universities tend to spend nearly all their time solving problems that are useless in the real world. The problem of finding a scientific mining algorithm is not easy, but mathematicians have not made a good effort at finding a good scientific mining algorithm.
3. People need to stay away from mining algorithms or their host cryptocurrencies that only have superficial scientific value. People may spend billions of dollars worth of resources solving these mining problems, so these mining problems should provide billions of dollars of scientific value. For example, Primecoin has a useful mining algorithm that rewards entities with coins for finding Cunningham chains which are chains of prime numbers. Unfortunately, the scientific value of these Cunningham chains is highly questionable since these Cunningham chains may be interesting to only a few mathematicians and the Cunningham chains do not justify the resources spent on producing these Cunningham chains.
4. People should not accept coins that are distributed unfairly through ICOs just because they think that cryptocurrency mining is wasteful. A better solution would be to use a mining algorithm that is designed to advance science so that one does not have a central entity controlling the initial distribution of coins. Have some self-respect. You don’t print money capriciously. You earn money.