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Microsoft Patents Bitcoin Mining Using Brainwaves

Saad Ullah



Microsoft wants to use your brainwaves to mine Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency in the world.

From Computers to Brains

The whole concept of using the mind to power blockchain networks has been filed for a patent by Microsoft as an alternative to the traditional computational mining done by Bitcoin. Mining is a competitive business where nodes and miners race to complete complex calculations to prove a transaction as valid on the network. Over the years, the fight to finish the calculation first has led to a massive increase in computer power to be used. Today, miners have what is called mining farms, arrays of specially created, dedicated computer chips that consume enormous amounts of energy. A research by the famous Joule journal shows that Bitcoin mining today consumes so much energy, that it produces nearly 30 metric tons of carbon emissions per year. To put that in perspective, this is more or less the carbon footprint of the country of Jordan.

The concept does sound strange, but it has been explained in the patent filing summary,

“Instead of massive computation work required by some conventional cryptocurrency systems, data generated based on the body activity of the user can be a proof-of-work, and therefore, a user can solve the computationally difficult problem unconsciously. Accordingly, certain exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure may reduce computational energy for the mining process as well as make the mining process faster.”

The patent informs that a device will be worn by users, who will be completing simple tasks such as watching an advertisement or any other activity. The monitor will observe the brain activity of the users and use that to match against an assigned number pattern. If the brain activity matches the string, that will be considered as proof that the user has worked and the underlying transaction will be validated.

Proof of Work Getting Tougher

The current method of proof of work (PoW) is getting tougher by the day. The enormous amount of energy consumed by computers to validate transactions means that mining is not profitable unless you can get to be the first to complete the blocks and earn the mining fee.

Currently Bitcoin mining reward is 12.5 BTC. The deflationary model of the cryptocurrency means that roughly every four years, the mining reward is halved. With a little over a week left for the next halving, the reward will drop down to 6.25 BTC for every block mined. As the mining rewards fall, the profitability of miners is also reducing. The Microsoft’s patent creates a mining method that still uses a PoW concept, but utilizes a lot less energy, thereby making Bitcoin mining profitable again.

Another feature of the brainwave mining is that with cheaper hardware, more people will be able to join in the mining process. With mining becoming expensive and requiring a very significant financial commitment, from buying the hardware, associated stuff, manpower and electrical cost, the process is shifting away from decentralization as only a handful of miners are now capable enough to generate blocks.

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