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Primecoin – My Thoughts

There are many different alternate crypto currencies (coins that are not Bitcoin) out there, and most do not really bring anything new to the table. Sure, we have things like YACoin bringing about a “Proof of Stake” model that generates interest on coins that are held and some coins that experience demurrage (loss of coins as a result of holding for long periods of time), but none of these really contribute to society as a whole. Essentially these coins just do one thing: burn energy for the purpose of allowing people to transact their funds for purchases and other transfers from one person to another. What the crypto scene has been needing for a while, and has been starting to slowly happen, is a new set of coins that offer true benefits to the world. One of these is Primecoin.

Primecoin is interesting in that it only runs on CPU, although there are others as well. The goal behind this is to keep people from being able to mine the coin by using GPU's, FPGA's or ASIC's. By doing this, everyone that has a computer with some power has a chance to help out the network and earn coins while doing it. This is a pretty big selling point, although it is still exploited to a point, as some people have mining farms that are comprised of computers with tons of CPU's or just have a lot of computers due to their jobs. On top of this, it also offers benefits to those that rent out VPS's, in that this gives them CPU's to use for their mining purposes (as long as their earnings are greater than the VPS's cost).

So what other benefit does Primecoin offer up? It works by calculating prime numbers (hence its name). While it is unsure at this point what the real benefit of this is (I do not see how this helps science or math, really), I am sure there is some benefit to it. And if nothing else, it does help contribute to the idea that coins can be created that go above and beyond just being a transactional method, and instead offer up the real benefits. I have heard, for example, some people speak about ideas revolving around the genome project being implemented in a coin. Things like this, if there were a way to churn out blocks while working on the project, could be a way to boost our sciences with millions of computers worth of computing power, while granting those that help out some financial gain. It is things like this that we need to be focusing on, rather than just burning energy for benefits.

As of recently, Primecoin has gone down in value considerably and it does not appear to have a very big following, but I think what is more important than the coin itself is what it stands for. It has already shown that the crypto scene can be much bigger than it is, and as people come up with creative ways to implement similar things in to other coins we can see a massive surge in their popularity. After all, what is better than being paid (or at least being able to run transactions) while working on figuring out how DNA strings work and things like that? Many people are already working on these for free as it is, so giving them a benefit really increases the value and probable success rate of the projects. In fact, another similar coin has already been released, called the CureCoin, that aims to work with the genome project to help let people earn from their computer's work.

The only real downside to the Primecoin is that it is designed to only work on CPUs. If there is any real scientific value in computing these numbers, I think it would be much more valuable to put as much power as possible in to the project. In this case, if GPUs and ASICs have computational value as well, I think they should be able to be used. On the other hand, if these are able to be used, CPUs lose their value as people will not spend all of their electricity to get almost no returns. This is something that CureCoin has taken in to consideration and has found a solution for. Rather than work like Bitcoin, where everyone earns based on the same type of work, they employ a new system where CPUs, GPUs and ASICs each have their own jobs and earn money from a separate pool of earnings. This gives each of these systems value, allows people to earn regardless as to what type of hardware they are using, and still gives them all a chance to help the project in a different way. Whether or not this is the perfect solution for the problem at hand, it is a lot better than the systems we currently use. The theory is that there are already FPGAs out for Scrypt (and likely will be for other coins that become super popular as well, such as Primecoin, should it ever hit that point) and that new ASICs would be created down the line as soon as the investment dollars are proving their worth (being that the creation of these special systems are expensive to design, develop and produce). The one thing that Primecoin has going for it in terms of thwarting these things off is that it does not run on an algorithm that is used for other coins (such as Scrypt and SHA-256), so anything that is created for it would have one purpose and one purpose only: to mine the Primecoins.

I am definitely interested to see what Primecoin ends up leading to. With Curecoin on the horizon and the possibility of many more implementations, this could become something great; a new breed of coins that go above and beyond just offering up financial transactions, offering up benefits to the real world. At this point I do not think there is an “if” this will happen, either. It will just be a matter of time. And for those that are afraid the crypto scene will end up crashing, these could even be altered a bit to just be part of some type of reward system for helping benefit the world (for example, even the Primecoins themselves could be a type of token that some group could use to trade for nice rewards and drawings); they are not stuck as being a monetary instrument.

Primecoin


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