Microsoft Patents Use of Brain Waves as Proof-of-Work to Earn Crypto

(Image credit: Willyam Bradberry/Shutterstock)

Microsoft has filed a patent application that details the use of subconscious thoughts as a proof-of-work concept with the intention of mining cryptocurrency.

The concept uses body data, including brain waves, body temperature, blood flow, movement, organ activity, your pulse, eye movement and much more. These data points are then paired with the task a person is doing and then used as a proof-of-work (PoW) element This data would be unique for each individual, forming essentially a digital fingerprint and the unique data required for PoW. 

"A brain wave or body heat emitted from the user when the user performs the task provided by an information or service provider, such as viewing advertisement or using certain internet services, can be used in the mining process," the patent application says.

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

It's an interesting concept, for sure. In essence, the patent details a technology where you allow Microsoft to record essentially all of your body's responses while you passively, to quote the patent, "view advertisements or use certain internet services." That data is then used to generate cryptocurrency, and before you know it you're making money by watching ads. It reminds me of those ads that boast that try to convince you that you can make $40,000/month from home without actually doing anything. 

Nevertheless, it sounds like a potentially good deal, especially considering that not long ago, people were buying lots of hardware, building complex systems and racking up expensive energy bills to mine for cryptocurrency. Microsoft's approach would only require an investment for the sensory hardware and your time.

Our Thoughts 

Allow us for a moment to go down a bit of a sc-fi hole here. Although Microsoft's patent applications shows a potential way to make earning money and cryptomining easier, it's hard to ignore the dystopian future vibes. 

Of course, for the time being, this is just a patent application, and we may never seem anything come from it. But imagine a world where you put on a headset, a few body sensors and watch ads or interact with digital content to make money. 

However, as with all crypto, as the popularity increases and the 'work' gets more difficult, the money made per hour will be much less. For many, it may no longer be worth investing the time. 

Matters get concerning in the long run. We wouldn't be surprised to see this technology eventually used for marketing purposes. Body data and brain waves are perfect data to measure just how much of a dopamine kick you're getting from certain ads -- information that's perfect for crafting even better ads. 

Is anyone else getting some Wall-E vibes here?

I'll leave it at that for now. Of course, we have to highlight again, this is just a patent at this point, and making anything more of it beyond the facts is pure speculation. 

Niels Broekhuijsen

Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.

  • thisisaname
    A little early for the first of April.
  • Nick_C
    Given a choice, I'll not be letting a monitoring device of that type anywhere near me.
  • grimfox
    O c'mon they just want to jam an 8" needle into a port in the back of your brain and...

    Intel is the architect.