Since very few people are still folding proteins or following SETI, I thought we may expand the scope of the forum a bit and discuss other types distributed computing..

Anyone using/renting your CPU/GPU cycles to something else these days? I have been crypto-mining with a few GPUs.

A bit of history:
Cryptocurrency may be referenced by some as the future of money, digital cash, hoax, baloon, digital gold, money-laundering scheme, etc. and yet it is still confusing to the masses.

It all started when Satoshi Nakamoto invented Bitcoin in 2008 as a P2P "electronic cash system". The idea was for a completely decentralized P2P currency without a single server or authority control. Instead of a bank holding a ledger of how much money you have, representing a system of debts/IOUs, cryptocurrencies represend themselves, the equivalent of coins of gold, if you will. Transactions are irreversible, they can't be stopped by a bank/government, noone can be prevented from using cryptocurrencies..

The idea gave birth to a multi-billion dollar market of hundreds of new cryptocurrencies 10 years later. Most cryptocurrencies introduce a limited, controlled supply of money that is not changeable by a government/bank, which makes it hard for any one institution to manipulate the monetary supply (in theory, given enough volume). Basically, the more people that "mine" for a currency, the more difficult it is to find the next "block" ("coin"), so that the supply of money remains relatively constant.

The early years were clouded by shady deals (transactions are pseudo-anonymous) but generally under most governments' radars. There were a few growing pains - FBI has closed a couple of illegal Bitcoin exchanges in the past, for example, seizing tens of millions of USD worth of coins. These days banks are getting into the game (even the IRS issued a directive on treating crypto-income), governments are taking notice, there are new ETFs on the stock market related to cryptocurrencies, it's consistently in the news, etc. There are a couple of vibrant exchanges processing hundreds of millions daily, one Japan-based and two in the United States with proper licenses and some governmental oversight. It is easy to convert cryptocurrencies into USD these days using Coinbase (US based), or their GDAX exchange, for example.

In 2017, bitcoin prices went wild (from $1000 for 1 BTC in the beginning of 2017, to ~$20k in December 2017, back down to ~$9k in April 2018).. Similarly some of the other big/established cryptocurrencies like ETH (Ethereum), LTC (Litecoin), etc.

So, for those that are not familiar with it, new cryptocurrency "coins" (blocks) can be obtained by "mining". This is simply using your processing power to solve mathematical algorithms (just like any other type of distributed computing). Historically, CPUs were good enough, these days only ASIC miners are used to mine for bitcoin, but GPUs are still profitable mining some "alt" coins like Ethereum that use different algorithms (a single Nvidia GTX 1070 can make more than $30/month mining after electricity costs at current prices). There are mining "pools" that aggregate hashing power of many thousands of users and distribute profits.

How does that matted to me
For one, graphic cards are being used for mining many cryptocurrencies these days (Nvidia GTX 1070s, AMD RX580s, etc.). They were in such demand that prices spiked by 30% in 2017, and ALL major retailers were out of stock for many months, including Newegg, Amazon, B&H, etc. We are still in the middle of a crypto "Gold Rush" with people mining with one motherboard and 6-12 GPUs..
Check out some of these -->
Anytime Bitcoin prices soar over $10k, high-end graphic cards seem to disappear from the internet, heh.

What are your personal thoughts on crypto-minig, or cryptocurrencies in general? Hoax or the future?

Personally, I have a mining rig with a few Nvidia GTX-1070s mining ETH at the moment. I've done a few trades on the exchanges. I sometimes rent some hashing power on miningrigrentals. I had like 3.5 BTC once but sold them cheap years ago. Anyone else?