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Will It Ever Become Real?


So you want to start mining but don’t have enough money to buy an ASIC or the latest GPU to mine your favorite Proof-of-Work crypto? Don’t worry, soon you will be able to mine cryptocurrencies with the power of your mind, thanks to Microsoft. And no, it’s not a late April Fools day joke.

According to documents from the World Intellectual Property Organization, Microsoft has been working for at least one year to develop a system that harnesses the energy of the human body and uses it to mine cryptocurrencies.

The Human Body Could be A Natural Crypto Mining Rig

The patent, called Cryptocurrency System Using Body Activity Data, explains that the human body generates energy that is lost with each natural physical body function. Microsoft’s idea is to use precisely this energy and put it to productive use (Matrix-style)

“Instead of massive computation work required by some conventional cryptocurrency systems, data generated based on the body activity of the user can be proof-of-work, and therefore, a user can solve the computationally difficult problem unconsciously.”

As in the Wachowskis’ “The Matrix,” the mining process involves the user hooking up a number of sensors to different parts of the body to generate a reward when performing some activity either consciously or unconsciously.

The mining system proposted by Microsoft. Image: WIPO
The mining system proposted by Microsoft. Image: WIPO

For example, the patent explains that the sensors could determine when a person is performing a specific task, such as watching an advertisement or using an internet service. When the appropriate stimulus is registered, the mining process could be activated, rewarding the individual with tokens.

The report says that “body fluid flow” and “organ activity and movement” could be some of the examples of bodily functions that could trigger sensors and initiate cryptocurrency mining processes.

The Next Step in Human-to-Computer Interactions

The process looks pretty simple in essence. One of the patent’s graphics explains that an external entity generates the conditions for a given task – such as reading a Cryptopotato article in its entirety – and the person executing the task triggers the sensor, which produces a response recorded in a hash.

If this hash satisfies a series of conditions determined in the system, cryptocurrencies are awarded. Otherwise – the user did not read the entire article or jumped to another piece – the block is discarded, and the process is restarted.

How to mine crypto with your body. Image: WIPO
How to mine crypto with your body. Image: WIPO

The patent explains that transactions would be recorded on a blockchain specifically designed for this purpose. It can be private or public but will involve a complex communication between the person, a central computer or server that reads and processes the data, and other systems responsible for propagating the information and verification of the information and transactions.

Who said crypto had no future?. Considering all the problems associated with PoW mining, perhaps turning the human body into crypto a mining rig is not that crazy… Or is it?

One Year Later: What Has Changed?

A little over a year has passed since Microsoft introduced its spooky and mind-blowing patent. What has happened since then?

Well, not much, really. Microsoft has kept quiet and has not disclosed any details or progress on the project, and in the absence of more data, it’s likely that this is all just a corporate asset protection maneuver and the patent is just sitting in a corner somewhere in one of Microsoft’s basements.

Generally, companies tend to apply for patents for products or services that are just in the concept stage, regardless of whether they are functional or not. The reason is primarily to prevent any copyright damages.
In case any competitor wants to work in that field, it will have to involve Microsoft in the process should it come dangerously close to infringing the patent.

What is certain is that the patent raised alarms in the community, with reactions ranging from moral debates about the limit between the ethically acceptable and the possible methods to make money to warnings about a worldwide conspiracy associated with the antichrist.

Definitely, the world of cryptocurrencies never surprises. Perhaps in the future hooking our bodies to a computer and get paid for watching ads will be perfectly normal, but right now it is kind of scary.

However, back in the 80s and 90s, giving our private data to a corporation and storing our credit card information on a third-party server was also beyond the unthinkable. Now we do that just in exchange for the possibility to like a meme.


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