Millions of dollars a day are currently wasted on electricity only for bitcoin mining - on finding sequences with low hash value, a task which is otherwise completely worthless.
I would like to propose a discussion about possibility of replacing this bitcoin mining activity with some socially/scientifically valuable computational task, like protein folding - such foldcoin could contain low energy configuration for given protein. "Mining" would be finding a configuration which is essentially better than currently best. Each protein would require a separate currency, with limited amount of coins.
How do I imagine such "foldcoins":
There is a fixed generally known protein energy formula, given task is defined by a sequence of aminoacids of a difficult to fold protein - its "foldcoin" would contain a sequence of angles determining a configuration of this protein, which should be a local energy minimum.
Checking proof-of-work for given foldcoin would be inserting this configuration into the energy formula and checking if
- it is a local energy minimum (|gradient| - it is essentially better than previously best energy (energy < previous_best - epsilon2),
where epsilon1, epsilon2 are some small constants initially fixed for given protein.
Given foldcoin would initially have probably 0 value, which could grow accordingly to general market rules - when people start focusing on given protein and appreciate its difficulty and significance.
After finding the global energy minimum, the amount of foldcoins for this protein would freeze - there would remain a limit resource market, like for pieces of art, which prices could then further evolve - for example accordingly to significance of this protein.
For example buying foldcoins for given protein would be a form of investment in working on it - would increase its price, motivating people to work on it, and finally they could be sold.
What do you think about such adding financial value and motivation to what you do?
(removed outside link ~ inkycatz)