Bitcoins for Good

There are two major categories of discussion surrounding the bitcoin P2P virtual currency: economic and ecological. I’m certainly not qualified to discuss the economic ramifications of a peer-to-peer distributed currency, so I’ll stick to the ecological side of things. My concern is simple:

Many people are dedicating lots of hardware and expending lots of electricity to generate a value that is inherent only in the bitcoin. In recent history, similar approaches were applied to things like SETI@Home and Folding@Home. Can we not combine the two concepts?

The two aforementioned examples—SETI@Home and Folding@Home—may not be perfectly suited for the major feature of bitcoin mining viability (ie: difficult to mine, easy to verify). There must be, however, some noble distributable problem that can be incorporated into the mining operation of a bitcoin-like currency. Surely, I’m not the first person to recognize the similarities between work units and bitcoins?

Implementing this idea is left as an exercise to the reader.