I am new, but have a big idea about bitcoin.

There is a distributed computing project known as Fold at Home. What if its software were used for the generation of something instead of for a menial, useless task? Fold at home distributes datapackets that need to be worked on by computers. Once computers finish the work, they send a report of the data back to the host.

What if Bitcoin mining were, instead, Folding at home? if the programs could be made compatible, then bitcoin mining would also be donating something to a good cause.

  • 2
    It's a "good question" in the sense that it should have an answer on SE, but it's not innovative at all, it's been asked multiple times on the forum and answered on the wiki. Jan 19, 2012 at 7:48
  • CoinLab is days away from releasing their HPC client which will start out doing Gene slicing, and soon possibly image and video processing work as well. So GPUs formerly used for Bitcoin mining are being put to further good use. Nov 22, 2012 at 10:17

3 Answers 3


Folding@home work is not compatible with the required properties of the work that needs to be performed for bitcoin. In particular, the computation work required for bitcoin mining needs to assure:

  • (a) difficulty of getting a 'good' result
  • (b) ease of verification of a good result once it is found
  • (c) precise scaling of difficulty depending on total network power.

The folding@home problems provide neither assurance of difficulty nor are in any way easy to scale depending on network power (since each folding problem is unique). They probably do meet the (b) ease of verification, but not the other criteria.

  • 6
    I think you forgot the most important requirement, that the problem is generated determinstically from a piece of data so that any change to the data make the solution invalid (so it can actually be used to verify a block of transactions). F@H problems, to be useful, must be generated by a central authority in a non-computational way. Jan 19, 2012 at 7:53
  • yea, that too. :)
    – nanotube
    Jan 19, 2012 at 18:11

Trying to use Folding@home as a way to secure Bitcoin would be really hard if not impossible. You would need to encode Bitcoin-related data into your result (merkle root, previous block hash, etc.).

However, you could use Folding@home to create a centralised currency. Say, for every work unit completed, one would earn 1 Fold or something. Those could be traded between people and used like any other currency. This would work if there were some people wishing to trade anything of values for the Folds - perhaps some people who want to support the project would start buying them for money and start driving the economy this way. Perhaps it could be possible to use Folds to pay, say, 10% of your university fees. If there would be enough people that would wish for this monetary project to succeed, it could work, as long as you would trust the party responsible for managing the money.

  • 2
    And thses things exist already. They're called karma points. And three of them plus a quarter might pay for a phone call. The reason Bitcoin's proof-of-work system is rewarded is because it is the only approach that allows a decentralized system of money to operate without being corrupted (e.g., having the currency inflated by political pressure, tainting or regulating who can accept it and for what purposes, etc.) Nov 22, 2012 at 10:14

This doesn't work. Some problems:

  • You need work that is hard to solve, but easy to verify. Folding work is hard to solve and hard to verify.

  • You want work that is "useless", for market stability. If a cure for cancer is found then the value of folding drops significantly, and the value of the currency falls.

  • The difficulty of the work needs to be adjustable.

  • 1
    Agree with points 1 & 3, but 2 is highly debatable. Why would "useless" work be prefereable? I believe a more useful work would even make the currency even more valuable. And, why would protein-folding be completely useless once a cure for cancer's found? It may be the most visible application for protein-folding research, but it's certainly not the only one!!
    – Joe Pineda
    Jun 14, 2013 at 23:50
  • I didn't say that finding a cure for cancer would make protein folding useless. I said it would make the value drop significantly. The point is that useless work is not subject to the volatility that comes with the varying usefulness of useful work.
    – Olhovsky
    Jun 19, 2013 at 4:32

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