Other than generating lucre, Bitcoin mining does nothing but waste of time and energy. That's why researchers from Microsoft and the University of Maryland have developed "Permacoins" which reward you for actually doing something useful: backing up important data to your hard drives. For instance, you could earn crypto-coins by helping store, say, the 200TB US Library of Congress to your own disks. You wouldn't be able to cheat and use Dropbox or Google Drive thanks to an encrypted key, and data would be validated using a "proof of reliability" check. With enough participation, it would provide a safe, distributed backup and enable data to be accessed during outages -- like when the Library of Congress went offline during last year's shutdown. It's just a prototype for now, but researchers reckon a 100 Petabyte data pool could be created if users spent the same on storage that they have on pricy mining rigs.