Computing for Good - Ripple's Contribution to Science

NOTE: Ripple's Computing for Good project will be phased out by the end of April 2014.

Ripple's XRP Distribution

The Ripple protocol has come under a massive amount of criticism from the cryptocurrency community due to the fact that its internal currency XRP is ‘pre-mined’. This means that instead of generating new coins through miners ‘finding’ them over a period of years, all of the coins which will ever exist were created at the start of the project and held in trust by Ripple Labs, to be distributed through other methods.

But in actual fact this pre-mine has led to one of the things that I personally like the most about Ripple – its massive contribution to science, which anybody can get involved with and earn a little extra money along the way. Because no mining is required Ripple Labs have sought other methods for the initial distribution of their coins. Some of the coins are held by Ripple Labs for further development of the project, some are given out through bounties to other developers who contribute to the Ripple eco-system or find bugs in the main system. But most of the coins are currently being distributed through a project called ‘Computing for Good’.

How I Helped to Find New Treatments for Childhood Cancer

To run the Computing for Good project Ripple has partnered with Boinc and World Community Grid. Boinc is a well-established distributed computing system which allows anyone with a computer to donate their spare processing power to science. Hundreds of scientific projects which would otherwise require the use of expensive super-computers to analyse large amounts of data are able to set up a project on Boinc and have it broken up into small chunks which are completed on the home computers of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. This means the only costs incurred by these projects is the maintenance of a normal server to send out work and receive results, and it has enabled hundreds of valuable scientific research projects to go ahead which otherwise would have been unable to obtain the necessary funding.

BOINC has already led to important breakthroughs, including the recent identification of seven potential new drug treatments for an horrific form of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma.

Anybody who wants to contribute towards BOINC projects just needs to download a piece of software which runs in the background on their computer. It only uses ‘spare’ resources which you aren’t using for anything else, and you have full control over the settings to make sure that it doesn’t drain your battery too much or slow down your system. You can also choose which projects you want to contribute towards.

The World Community Grid is a website which provides free services for BOINC, including some technical assistance for users as well as a points system which tracks your personal contribution to BOINC projects and lets you join teams to engage in friendly competition with other users. By setting themselves up as a World Community Grid team, Ripple is able to track the contribution of their team members to BOINC projects. Once per day a pot of 1,250,000 XRP is then distributed to team members based on the number of points that they have earned. Effectively this works out a little bit like mining – you run software on a computer and get rewarded with coins – but along the way you are making a valuable contribution to scientific projects which are able to access your computer’s processing power for free.


The amount of money you will earn like this is not huge, and running this software will lead to increased electricity usage – but I think it is well worthwhile. As far as I know Ripples and Devcoins are the only digital currencies which are distributed ethically rather than just handed out to wealthy mining businesses. If you want to get a few XRP to explore the Ripple payment and trading system whilst also making a valuable contribution to the world then I definitely recommend it. To give you an idea of what you will get, I have the BOINC software running on my own laptop, my partner’s laptop, and my Samsung Galaxy S4 phone. We both spend a lot of time on our computers, so they are on and running the software quite a lot, but we don’t leave them on 24/7 just to run BOINC. The amount I earn depends on how many hours our computers are switched on for, and how much I keep my phone charged (the app does drain the battery quite a bit, but it automatically pauses itself when the battery goes below 60% or when no wifi is available - meaning that it doesn’t leave you with a dead battery or eat up all your data allowance, but also meaning that it is paused more often than it is running) but it is usually somewhere between 30 and 60 XRP per day, which equates to roughly $0.40 - $1.20 per day depending on the daily price of XRPs.

I haven’t actually done any calculations to work out the electricity cost of this, because it is something that I would continue doing even if I was making a loss on it, but I do have a pre-payment electricity metre which tells me how much I’m spending each day and so gives me a rough idea of the extra cost. Based on this I would guess that around half to three quarters of the money I am earning each day is being eaten up by increased electricity bills, but that is just a rough guess, and as I said I am happy to do it anyway.

Categories: e-currency | Ripple

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