Bitcoin mining currently consumes more electricity than all of Argentina

Originally published at: Bitcoin mining currently consumes more electricity than all of Argentina | Boing Boing

Looks at the rising national debt.

Should… should the government start mining bit coin?

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Yes, bitcoin is like the one ring - beautiful to consider, but all that it touches is blemished. An engineer friend recently shared a cute dystopian factoid, that the most cost effective use of solar energy farms is currently for bitcoin mining. If you use all the generated power for on-site servers, you don’t have to worry (much) about interfacing with a power grid, energy storage, or the significant loss across power lines. (here’s a quickly googled link)

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The higher it goes, the greater the incentive for bitcoin miners who earn bitcoins by providing the computing resources for processing transactions on the public ledger that the cryptocurrency is built upon.

While I’m not much into bit coin I’ve heard this described in two different ways.
Transaction processing is not really computationally intensive because it’s basically hashing and comparing. (Don’t hold me to the specific technical details here, but it’s a relatively simple process or at least I’ve been told - perhaps that is wrong?) While the “mining” and creating of a bitcoin is where all the power is being consumed.

It’s like a gold currency. Trading in gold is not difficult, it’s the mining and processing that is the labor intensive part.

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Yes, that’s correct. And the computations get harder as more miners try to complete them, so there is a positive feedback loop on the energy usage.
The energy consumption isn’t required for the security and there are many other blockchains that are as secure, much faster with cheaper transactions, with lower energy usage (like a million times less).
There needs to be some amount of energy (Proof of Work) used, so that the network can’t be spammed for free by a hacker, but it doesn’t need to be anywhere near as high as bitcoin’s.

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Future generations dealing with the outcomes of global warming are going to look around and say “all this … for Math Beanie Babies.”

That we take Proof of Work, in any amount, out of the hide of the natural environment to drive completely speculative “currencies” is madness.

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You missed the part where I said a million times less.
It’s like BBS confirming your IP before you post, so you don’t just inundate the forum with millions of spam posts. It’s a necessary security feature for any network to prevent spam/DDoS attacks, but bitcoin’s doesn’t have to be as heavy duty as it is.

It’s a flaw of Bitcoin, not of blockchains. That was my point

I didn’t, hence my use of the phrase “in any amount”. Cryptocurrencies (as distinct from the underlying blockchain technology) are a frivolous waste of energy. That was my point.

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At what point will it become cost-effective to land a bitcoin mining operation on Mercury?

eta: Or is that thinking too small?

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How about if the heat from Bitcoin mining were used to heat buildings which would otherwise be heated by electricity?

“But you can’t just just shut all this down in the name of social justice warfare” (goes the retort)
“The market needs …mumble reasons something… Liquidity!”

/s

Under this version of capitalism, it seems to boil down to, “How much money are you willing to spend in order to make it stop?”

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Not so much wrong, as the areas where your details are fuzzy can lead to inaccuracies. A transaction can be checked trivially, but the initial completion happens by someone bundling transactions into a block for the mining process. The mining isn’t separate, but rather a part of a set of transactions being processed. We could trade gold back and forth all day with no additional mining, but mining is how transactions are initially processed in Bitcoin.

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…so If I understand you correctly: If all bitcoin miners were to somehow suddenly lose interest, and content themselves with exchanging the coin, rather than creating new coin - then all bitcoin exchanges would also stop being registered in the system?

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More or less, yes. But if nobody was mining then mining would become trivially easy and someone would start mining just to process their transactions.

Yeah basically, but the system would collapse pretty quickly to fraud before that final barrier. If more than half of the processing power in the network falls under the hands of a single entity (which would happen if the number of miners plummeted to that extent) they can authorize any transaction they want. Even if it remains fabulously popular forever, it will enter a deflationary death spiral that kills its use as a currency. One way or another the bitcoin network is headed for a rocky end, eventually.

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Like this?

The planet is already warming.

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That makes bitcoin sound a lot like the speculative market for moon cakes, leading up to the date of the mid autumn festival in China. Except in bitcoin’s case, it’s not a set calendar date that makes the point of zero value, but some kind of mathematical limit intrinsic to the algorithm. Am I close?

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