• The price of bitcoin is on the rise again, kicking off a new round of conversations about its power usage. After a few discussions with family this weekend (and many vain attempts to steer them away from NFT chat...), I went looking for a good way of explaining Proof-of-Work and why it's such a vital element of BTCs success.

    https://dergigi.com/2018/06/10/bitcoin-s­-energy-consumption/

    It's by no means a one-stop-shop to counter critics' arguments, but it goes a long way towards encouraging a new perspective. Thought some of you might appreciate the read. I'd genuinely be interested to hear what you think (particularly about the block of marble analogy!).

  • I struggle with this because it all hinges on whether the reader thinks the outcome of having something like BTC is actually worthwhile and beneficial - or at least, benign - now, and in the future.

    I perceive BTC as largely some kind of scheme for making techbros and the tech capable richer without having to lift a finger (I'm sure it does more than that as Stonehedge would attest to but I'm being blunt here). So even if I think PoW is cool / clever / efficient / self balancing or whatever, if it's just facilitating enrichment of a select group of society I'm not likely to get my pom-poms out and cheering it on or excusing its worst side effects (i.e. energy usage).

    e.g:

    Proof-of-work is essentially a mechanism to easily check the truthfulness of the statement “I worked really hard to create this thing”. From that perspective, our new and fancy computational blocks are a bit like blocks of marble, and proof-of-work is a bit like looking at a beautiful marble statue. It is immediately obvious that a lot of work went into creating the statue.

    What if you think the statue is the answer to a problem that nobody really cared about, and worse, is making another - and probably more pressing problem - harder to crack? I don't care how much time / effort you burned on your statue - that you spent on it doesn't make it good if you are solving the wrong problem at the wrong time etc.

    tl;dr to me this stuff is awful because the outcome of it (currently, and in the near future) is largely awful, AND it pisses energy down the drain. I can't really visualise a future where I think 'gosh, I'm glad BTC is a thing, that really saved my bacon, all that energy and time was well spent' etc.

  • particularly about the block of marble analogy!

    The block of marble analogy works if you already believe that you're creating a masterpiece.

    I think the analogy is just as valid if you replace David with a swimming pool of marble dust.

    ...

    From that perspective, our new and fancy computational blocks are a bit like blocks of marble, and proof-of-work is a bit like looking at a beautiful marble statue large pit of finely ground dust. It is immediately obvious that a lot of work went into creating the statue pit. Cheating is extremely hard, because creating such a glorious statue large pit without actually doing the work is pretty much impossible. You can’t throw a block of marble against a wall and everything which is not David will fall off it immediately explodes into uniformly fine dust. It’s not impossible, but it is very, very, very unlikely. Instead, you have to chisel away at the marble, and you have to do it properly and with care.

  • After a few discussions with family this weekend

    Good CryptoBoy

    (and many vain attempts to steer them away from NFT chat...)

    Bad CryptoBoy!

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