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  • 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.

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