Frankencoin? Microsoft applies for patent to mine cryptocurrency through brain waves and blood flow

Tech giant explores bizarre alternative to current inefficient mining practices


A recent patent application filed by Microsoft (MSFT) has surprised and befuddled practically all who have come across it.

In “Cryptocurrency system using data on body activity” the tech giant suggests replacing the “massive computation work” of current cryptocurrency mining methods with “body activity” data generated from individuals completing a certain task, which would then be transmitted to the server.

Currently cryptocurrency mining does require a significant amount of technological hardware and consumes a lot of electricity.

Earlier this month, Alex de Vris, a blockchain specialist at PwC, published a report claiming that a single Bitcoin (BTC) transaction uses the same amount of electricity as an average British household does for almost two months and that 98 per cent of all Bitcoin rigs never achieve their mission.

Regardless of such potential inefficiency, Microsoft’s theoretical alternative is still likely to spook rather than inspire.

According to the document, a biometric sensor monitoring body heat, blood flow or brain waves would be attached to users who will then be encouraged to complete tasks “such as viewing an advertisement or using certain internet services". This data will then be transmitted to a server and could then “be used in the mining process”.

Most alarmingly, the patent makes reference to monitoring work performed “unconsciously” through the detection of different brain waves, including beta and gamma waves, which involve memory, learning and logical thinking and alpha waves, which relate to the subconscious.

This is not the first time that the world of cryptocurrencies has been linked to futuristic ideas of the human body becoming a quasi-computational entity in a technological sense.

In 2018 Zoltan Istvan, one of the thought leaders in the Transhumanist movement, praised Ethereum’s (ETH) founder Vitalik Buterin for donating to the SENS Foundation, which seeks to extend human life and make old age obsolete. He observed: “In the future when we have brain implants and are directly connected to the web, we’ll keep pass codes and access to our cryptocurrencies directly in our mind.”

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