back to article The dark equation of harm versus good means blockchain’s had its day

In 1960, Theodore H Maiman made the first laser. Famously described at birth as a solution in search of a problem, it delivered a Nobel prize four years later, was in barcode scanners in shops 10 years after that, and in 1979 gave birth to the compact disc. Not content with enabling digital audio, revolutionising many …

  1. ecofeco Silver badge

    We know it has no future

    It has no future, but like all fads, it's not over yet or soon.

    Exploit it if you can. Use if you can. Ignore it if you can. But don't get caught as the last fool when it finally collapses.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We know it has no future

      sed s'/blockchain/social media/' g

      (OK, that's a bit pithy, but I miss sed and the command line!)

      (and awk.)

      1. Sitaram Chamarty

        Re: We know it has no future

        you certainly appear to miss it... you need a "-e" somewhere, and I *think* the g needs to be next to the trailing "/" :)

    2. jgarbo
      Boffin

      Re: We know it has no future

      BTC has been used as a parallel currency in El Salvador since September. You can buy anything with it, from ice cream to a house. However its main use is for foreign remittances, which are instantaneous and almost free via Lightning network. Its cost of mining is usually cheap due to its use of stranded or waste power, eg off peak, hydro, and in El Salvador almost free due to geothermal power.

      BTC is unique among "cryptos", in that it's limited, decentralized, unconfiscatable. The others are unlimited, controlled by the inventor.

      1. Schultz
        Stop

        "almost free [...] power"

        I wish I lived in your world of almost free power. In my world, unfortunately, El Salvador still burns fossil fuels for some third of its electricity production. And renewable energy also rarely qualifies as free, unless you can get someone else to pay the bill.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: We know it has no future

        Power in El Salvador is neither cheap nor always environmentally advisable. Perhaps fortunately for them, a lot of Bitcoin mining isn't done there. I will grant that they do generate a large amount of renewable energy. Unfortunately, that is not enough for their demand. They burn hydrocarbons for a lot of their power generation. They use hydroelectricity, which like most countries in the region is seasonal such that in the dry season, there is often a need to limit power usage as the hydro plants aren't generating as much. They are also a net importer of electricity by a large margin (imported about 11.9 times the power they exported), opening them to the environmental consequences of the methods the countries around them use to generate the power that they import.

        "BTC is unique among "cryptos", in that it's limited, decentralized, unconfiscatable."

        Come on, there's a whole bunch like that. Not all of them, certainly, but if you want to sell the benefits of Bitcoin, lying about its uniqueness is not a good start.

      3. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: We know it has no future

        " Its cost of mining is usually cheap due to its use of stranded or waste power, eg off peak, hydro, and in El Salvador almost free due to geothermal power."

        Nice to still live in a 1950s carefree bubble. But reality is knocking on the door. Global warming will affect El Salvador just like everywhere else.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We know it has no future

        > unconfiscatable

        Which is great when you've hacked someone else's wallet. Not so good for the person hacked.

      5. that one in the corner

        Re: We know it has no future

        Are you claiming that the Bitcoins transacted in El Salvador are only managed (? what word should I be using here?) by the mining done in El Salvador?

        You are totally sure that they aren't using the electricity generated somewhere else, somewhere with a mass of mining rigs who don't give a monkey's where the transactions are sourced, just so long as they can race to the hash first?

        In other words, if El Salvador is responsible for a large number of transactions that "need" to be recorded, El Salvador is responsible for encouraging miners everywhere else. So any green power El Salvador has is irrelevant to the greenity of their Bitcoin usage.

      6. Snake Silver badge

        Re: "unconfiscatable"

        "BTC is unique among "cryptos", in that it's limited, decentralized, unconfiscatable."

        A bit more maturity, please. If it can be stolen, your wallet hacked, then it can be confiscated. Same processes, the ownership [of the data inside the wallet] is taken away from your sole possession.

        There is NO miracle to Bitcoin, regardless of the hype that both promoters and FUD-spreading media pundits would like to forward. Like everything in the human world, blockchain is not foolproof; like other redundant systems, the redundancy itself does not guarantee corruption of processes for those truly set out to accomplish this task (ask Chernobyl).

      7. Paul 195
        FAIL

        Re: We know it has no future

        Bitcoin with its limit of 10 transactions per second is completely impractical as a large scale replacement for money. The larger retail banks in the UK have to be able to process at up to 4000 TPS. Visa I believe manage 6000 TPS.

        I believe some of the other crypto currencies can manage better, but none of them are even close to what would be needed. And they burn insane amounts of energy to do it.

      8. Cav

        Re: We know it has no future

        "stranded or waste power, eg off peak, hydro..." No such animal. If energy is available for bitcoin mining then it could be used to produce hydrogen as an energy store for transportation anywhere that can use it for something useful.

    3. JDX Gold badge

      Re: We know it has no future

      It's clearly not going anywhere anytime soon. It's only just gaining mass popularity, look at the huge increase in sponsorship of major events.

      I'm pretty skeptical but to state it's got no future simply seems to be spreading the same kind of unsubstantiated nonsense as all the rabid BTC fanbois "200k by Tuesday", just the other side of the coin.

      Regulation does not imply collapse, in fact regulation seems a good idea. Crypto is still very much in Wild West territory. The actual Wild West was a free for all where lots of people made a lot of money, lots of people worked very hard but never made much, and lots of people made their money through crime and scams... doesn't mean there was nothing there worth having though.

      The article just seems to be written by a middle-age Guardian reader who wants it to collapse. There's a lot of people out there who would cream their pants to see BTC destroyed. Probably because they're bitter they never invested - it's been "a silly fad" since day 1 but if every time you told someone that you'd put a few bucks in over the years, you wouldn't need to be a journalist anymore :) I imagine most of us techy types are kicking ourselves we didn't take a punt on £100 back in the early days, I sure am, but we shouldn't let that skew our objectiveness.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

      The truism that young people get scammed by old ideas masquerading as new proven.

      Or, if you prefer, those who forget (or never learn) history ...

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

      Whether it is a good idea or not @JimmyPage is fairly irrelevant, article pointed out the big issue (as far as I am concerned) is the potentially huge energy usage, not ideal when climate change is a major issue facing mankind in the short term (and beyond) with potentially dire consequences.

      It' a major struggle to clamp down on long established activities that are bad for the climate, but blockchain has not got that level of traction and so could be addressed relatively painlessly.

      But hey, who cafes about future human generations & other lifeforms on earth when you can toss around dubious insults,

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

        It should start earning its keep when we have boundless fusion energy. Until then we're best off without it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

          But by then we will have ditched our petrol/diesel cars and gas/oil central heating in favour of electric, and idIOT toys will be soaking up even more...

          Never mind, the Government is thinking (sic) of setting up its own crypto-currency, so that'll kill it off

        2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

          Nuclear energy too cheap to meter, eh? Sounds familiar.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

            The thing is, this is actually more of a policy question than a technical one.

            The nuclear plants we are building in Britain now are 3.2GW output and cost 20 billion each. We spend ~9billion quid a year on subsidies for renewablesthat generally don't produce the energy promised.

            Hypothetically, assume that you built a new nuclear plant every two years instead of paying that. 15 plants later that's 48GW; 5GW more than current demand according to gridwatch.

            At that point 100% of your power is coming from a source with well known and predictable costs that won't rise, so offering an unmetered fixed rate contract for electricity would be entirely feasible in the same way it is for water.

            Oh, and that unmetered profitable price? The Guardian et al screamed about the government guaranteeing that the power generated would be bought at a minimum price of £90 per megawatt hour in exchange for UK PLC not paying anything towards the building price. The Guardian et al stated that due to good wishes and promises from green marketing electricity prices would fall to far below £90 per megawatt hour making it a terrible deal for the future.

            At the time of writing electricity prices are over £200 per megawatt hour, apparently good wishes and promises from marketing are worth about as much as you'd expect.

            1. AdamWill

              Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

              Well, that covers the cost of building them, I guess. (Over a period of rather more than 30 years, or, at least 10 years too many). Now account for the costs of handling and storing (short-, long- and very long- term) nuclear waste, and the costs of decommissioning the plants at end of life.

              edit: I should clarify, if it turns out we actually need nuclear power to supplement or act as base load for renewables in the long run, then we should use it. It's still a better choice than fossil fuels. But based on its track record so far, I don't have a high degree of confidence that it's ever going to turn out to be particularly cheap, in full life cycle costs. If newer reactor technologies can finally help with that...great. But let's wait and see.

              1. Andy Tunnah

                Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                All nuclear waste currently in the US barely fills a US football field 10ft deep. Also it can be processed - a 155g drum, which is the amount of waste a human will cause in their lifetime, can be processed down to a 5kg mass (I could be wrong there, but it's small)

                Nuclear waste is not an issue. People not understanding it and REFUSING to understand it has been the problem, They had a whole mountain setup for it and it got killed off because a politician came along with a sure-fire way to win an election and tell people all the dangers and scaries. It's depressing

                1. scubaal

                  Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                  there is no politician on the planet who is going into an election with 'bring that nuclear dump to my state' - whether thats justified or not is irrelevent. Just means that arent any sites available anywhere that has even moderately democratic elections.

                2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                  The nuclear waste itself might cover a US football pitch to a depth of 3m, but cased up, it takes up much more room. At one point, reprocessing was banned so the facilities to do it were scrapped and nothing new was planed or built. It's not banned in the US anymore but no company wants to put up the billions of dollars to build a facility, take the risks and wind up having the reprocessing banned again or the uses for that re-processed fuel banned.

                  The US government took on the role as the final receiver of the waste from US nuclear plants as a way to ensure that disposal and storage was done properly along with not seeing materials "go missing". Decades down the road, they still don't have a solution in place. When something needs to get done, there's nothing like a government to prevent it from happening.

              2. Peter2 Silver badge

                Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                Well, that covers the cost of building them, I guess. (Over a period of rather more than 30 years, or, at least 10 years too many)

                The physical building time is 10 years. Hinkley point spent ~20 years worth of political arguments about if it should be built, how it should be financed and who should be involved.

                Now account for the costs of handling and storing (short-, long- and very long- term) nuclear waste, and the costs of decommissioning the plants at end of life.

                Oh comeon, even the Guardian says that's a cost to the operators.

                https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/30/hinkley-point-c-developers-face-72bn-cleanup-bill-at-end-of-nuclear-plants-life

                edit: I should clarify, if it turns out we actually need nuclear power to supplement or act as base load for renewables in the long run, then we should use it. It's still a better choice than fossil fuels. But based on its track record so far, I don't have a high degree of confidence that it's ever going to turn out to be particularly cheap, in full life cycle costs. If newer reactor technologies can finally help with that...great. But let's wait and see.

                You can use a website called Gridwatch to see what our current electricity requirements are, and how they are provided. It's live to the current minute. Previous data is stored in the graphs below in week, month and year.

                The first and most obvious point is that the UK has 24+ GW worth of wind turbines. We have never generated 15GW worth of energy from wind, ever. It's noteworthy when we produce half of the nominal capacity of the installed wind capacity; eg 12GW. As can be seen by looking at the "yearly" graph wind turbines produce more than 10GW perhaps a third of the the year at best. No possible storage technology could deal with that sort of shortfall, even if you quadrupled the installed capacity.

                When they are not working, which as you can see is effectively all of the time the capacity is generated by CCGT; combined cycle gas turbines. A strategy of generating power via wind turbines is nothing less than a deliberate policy choice to use gas turbines as the primary power generation and then using wind turbines as occasional partial load reduction on the gas turbines with the wind turbines used as greenwashing.

                Quite why people thought wind turbines was a good idea eludes me; refitting every waterwheel in the country for electricity generation would have at least delivered usable power consistently and constantly as long as the water continues flowing through rivers; a more common thing in the UK than it blowing a gale.

                As a policy choice though the existing strategy precludes mass adoption of electric vehicles because we don't and won't have the power generation available, and it prevents using existing technology to decarbonise heating by moving from gas central heating to electric heating which could easily be done with technology which was boring in the 1980s such as electric storage heaters backed up with fan heaters on a thermostat. This would work if electricity was cheaper than gas; which it won't ever be when the electricity is generated by gas and then has transmission costs added on top.

                Denying this in face of the obvious facts is willful ignorance. There is no storage technology either invented or looking promising in the lab that can work on the scale required even if you increased the number of wind turbines by a factor of ten.

                Therefore it is obvious that the only carbon free electricity generation we have on a workable scale at an acceptable price is nuclear; ergo if you want carbon free cheapish electricity to decarbonise EV's or heating without impoverishing 80% of the population (all of whom have a vote; and who will not vote for anybody impoverishing them) then there is no current workable alternative to building nuclear plants quickly and on a large scale.

                If you are enraged by this logical statement of offensive yet irrefutable facts then consider a downvote in lieu of doing something constructive to help the situation, such as admitting the existing situation is absurd and supporting changing it. ;)

                1. AdamWill

                  Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                  First two points: please follow the discussion so far carefully. We're not discussing "nuclear power costs in the abstract", we're discussing the proposal that you can build sufficient nuclear power by diverting the money currently spent on subsidies for renewable power projects. Specific numbers and timeframes were mooted. That's what I was replying to.

                  In that context, it doesn't matter how long it takes to build a nuclear power plant, it matters that the specific funding proposal would only allow you to build them at the pace I mentioned. In that context, it doesn't matter whose responsibility the costs of storage and disposal of waste would be, it only matters that the costs exist and weren't accounted for, therefore the total cost of the nuclear power generation would exceed the budget that would be made available by diverting renewable subsidies.

                  Later points: that's all very interesting, but you seem to miss an awful lot of steps from [paraphrased] "wind alone doesn't produce sufficient power" to "Therefore it is obvious that the only carbon free electricity generation we have on a workable scale at an acceptable price is nuclear". For the purpose of argument, let's assume you're absolutely right about a wind-only approach; it's still not apparent that the only possible alternative is "building nuclear plants quickly and on a large scale". You didn't consider any other alternatives to "just keep building wind turbines". For instance, your own earlier tossed-in idea about water wheels. I've no idea if that's at all practical, but again for the purpose of argument, let's say it's a genius idea that would entirely solve the problem: why don't we just do that now? It would still likely be a lot cheaper and faster than building a bunch of new nuclear power plants.

                  If it turns out that it's not possible to solve the problem with wind, hydro, geothermal, solar, and battery storage, sure, nuclear's the next least worst thing to add to the mix (unless I'm forgetting something). But you should probably at least work through all of those first.

                  1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

                    Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                    > If it turns out that it's not possible to solve the problem with wind, hydro, geothermal, solar, and battery storage, sure, nuclear's the next least worst thing to add to the mix (unless I'm forgetting something). But you should probably at least work through all of those first.

                    Part of the problem with that, is the timeline involved in building nuclear generation capacity. By the time you realise those other options don't achieve what they promised, you're already facing a shortfall.

                    In fact, to a certain extent we (as a country) have already been doing what you suggest - with the result that building the capacity we need has repeatedly been kicked down the road.

                    Energy planning requires actual, well, planning - we should be building nuclear power stations whilst also including other technologies in the mix. If those other technologies prove themselves then you can reduce the amount of nuclear capacity you plan to build in future.

                  2. Peter2 Silver badge

                    Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                    it matters that the specific funding proposal would only allow you to build them at the pace I mentioned. In that context, it doesn't matter whose responsibility the costs of storage and disposal of waste would be, it only matters that the costs exist and weren't accounted for, therefore the total cost of the nuclear power generation would exceed the budget that would be made available by diverting renewable subsidies.

                    If you are following the discussion carefully then you'll note that even the Guardian says that the costs are built into the price of the minimum guaranteed electricity price, which is currently under half the current market level.

                    Given the ~£9 billion a year spent on wind subsidies is ok, and it costs ~20 billion for a nuclear plant then you could either build a new plant every two years paid for in full from the existing subsidies (and get the power ten years later) or build a batch of 5 nuclear plants and spread the cost over those ten years. Upon completion in ~2031 that's 16GW worth of fossil fuel generation that would drop off the power generation net forever; which given that at the moment we are drawing 16.57GW from gas turbines means that this would leave the largest CO2 emissions from power generation as being the 3GW worth of "biomass" generation, which in plain English is trees chopped down in South America, shipped to the US to be made into wood pellets and then shipped to the UK to be burned. This is of course counted as green renewable energy at the moment.

                    If it turns out that it's not possible to solve the problem with wind, hydro, geothermal, solar, and battery storage, sure, nuclear's the next least worst thing to add to the mix (unless I'm forgetting something). But you should probably at least work through all of those first.

                    Wind is a strategy of committing to gas turbines forever with wind just used as greenwashing. Look at the chart on Gridwatch; it shows the level of productivity of wind turbines. Imagine that you quadruple the number of wind turbines, requiring payments to the very rich owners every year at a level above the defence or education budgets to keep the lights on. You still have entire months where the power is coming from gas because the generation line will simply be 4x above where it is now for wind, and four times nothing is still nothing.

                    With battery storage, this is an IT site so i'll assume that you are familiar with a bog standard UPS. If not, google it. A typical UPS provides around a kilowatt hour worth of electricity. Multiply that by a thousand. That's a megawatt hour worth of storage; so you need to multiply that by a thousand again. That's now one gigawatt hour; which gives a rough idea of the amount of space and expense required to store one hours worth of electricity.

                    1*1000*1000=1,000,000. So your looking at approximately the space and expense of one million UPS's. For one gigawatt hour worth of power. To smooth out small daily variations of about 5GW for 24 hours would therefore require 5*24=120GW worth of battery storage. How much space would 120 million UPS's take up? The mind boggles. And that's the low end of the useful requirement, as if you were running purely on wind power given it effectively vanishes for a month at a time you'd want a months worth of power stored; 40GW*24*30=28800 Gigawatt hours, which would be a requirement of 28,800,000,000 UPSish size and cost equivalents.

                    A kilowatt hour UPS cost is about four hundred quid. Let's arbitrarily reduce the real world cost by a factor of eight to £50 each allowing for what out in the real world is an absurd and unachievable efficiencies of scale and cost. But just for the sake or argument; multiply by the requirement of 28,800,000,000. The rough cost of a months power stored would be £1,440,000,000,000. That's one trillion, four hundred and forty billion quid. And it'll last about about one thousand charge cycles before the amount of energy stored drops by >70%. That's typically about 6 years in service which is why things like laptops and smartphones are always replaced on a five year cycle.

                    That amount would pay for 72 nuclear reactors of the Hinkley point type assuming no efficiencies of scale in cost, generating >230 GW of power which is enough electricity to totally decarbonise transport and heating for the entire of western Europe and would last the next century instead of for about 5 years.

                    Even 24 hours worth of storage at that scale would buy you 2.5 nuclear plants of the Hinkley point type. And frankly, I doubt that you could ever do it at that price; that's based on £50 per kilowatt hour. Musk says his solutions through life cost is $300 per kilowatt hour on his new Tesla Megapack.

                    So yeah, unviable.

                    For instance, your own earlier tossed-in idea about water wheels. I've no idea if that's at all practical, but again for the purpose of argument, let's say it's a genius idea that would entirely solve the problem: why don't we just do that now? It would still likely be a lot cheaper and faster than building a bunch of new nuclear power plants.

                    Because while individually the cost is low so is the generation capacity added. It's a stupid idea, just less stupid than wind turbines which are positively idiotic, and it at least has the virtue of adding capacity that works 24/7 unless the rivers freeze, run dry or burst their banks, which I think everybody can agree are reasonably uncommon occurrences relative to the wind conditions required for optimal function of wind turbines.

                    It also sensibly makes use of the engineering of the rivers done to facilitate waterpower that date back beyond recorded history. (the 1066 doomsday book lists 6000 waterwheels...)

                    If it turns out that it's not possible to solve the problem with wind, hydro, geothermal, solar, and battery storage, sure, nuclear's the next least worst thing to add to the mix (unless I'm forgetting something). But you should probably at least work through all of those first.

                    Wind we've done to death, and I trust that in light of the figures above you'll see how absurd battery storage is.

                    Hydro is lovely, but gives the term "expensive" a bad name and we don't have enough valleys etc to dam and flood, and besides the people living in them tend to complain somewhat about being forced out of their homes. The proposals for tidal power are feel good pipe dreams to distract from the reality that they are several orders of magnitude too expensive to deploy at a useful scale.

                    With regards to geothermal, we aren't exactly Iceland. In the UK you can get a reasonable list of cost effective locations by looking up where we have hot springs >30 degrees. That leaves 6 sites, 5 of which are in a world heritage site and grade utterly untouchable listed. That leaves one reasonable site which might possibly be able to generate "up to" 0.1GW if it roughly doubles what Iceland manages from similar sites.

                    Solar? IN THE UK?! Have you perhaps confused our near perpetually overcast weather conditions with Saudi Arabia? Do you even want to do the sums on it?

                    Suffice to say that it makes battery storage look sensible. It only make sense when your have a solar system installed and are getting paid several times what it costs for the utility company to produce the power; which means your bills go down for the power you "feed in" and then get basically "free" power later on in the evening and get a lower bill. This has the effect of increasing every other users electricity costs to pay for the chap with the solar panels and so only works when a handful of people have them. What happens when everybody has one?

                    (Answer; the feedback costs would exceed the generation costs of the electricity; and see the current crisis with energy companies collapsing when required to sell for under the electricity cost as to why solar feed in schemes have been closed to new entrants...)

                    Which brings us back to Nuclear as being the sole sensible option if you want bills under half today's level rather than at the current level or even double this.

                    Don't get me wrong; you can generate sort of enough power otherwise and you could even do it in a way that could be described as green if one was willing to indulge in sufficient denial of reality (cough, biomass, cough). It just requires not eliminating CO2 emissions and taxing the poor on their electricity bills to pay the rich subsidies (to generally not produce electricity) on a level equivalent to several multiples of the defence budget. And making transport and heating things for the top 40% of the population and beyond the grasp of the other 60% unless they impoverish themselves.

                    Which given that everybody gets a vote each creates conditions that outright require the creation of a British populist analogue of Trump, and hands this putative politician about a 60% vote share on a platter when he demands that the policies of "tax the poor to create the rich" cease and completely fairly points the finger of blame at the hippy types who have impoverished the majority of the population.

                    Should this come to pass then you'd assume that when the future populist gets voted in then he's going to want to deliver lower electricity prices within his term. Since nuclear build terms are 10 years or 2.5 political terms if you start immediately he won't do that; he'll probably build a quick and cheap option that can be up in 3 years from commencement and deliver lower electricity prices immediately thereafter; coal plants, and probably fracking for cheaper gas prices. The green types protesting against building them at that point will probably very literally get lynched.

                    Which brings us back to Nuclear. ;)

                    1. AdamWill

                      Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                      See, that's all I wanted you to do. Actually consider the other options. I've no idea if you're right about them or not, and don't particularly want to get into an argument about it. But thanks for at least putting in the work.

                      1. Peter2 Silver badge

                        Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                        Anybody with any intelligence considered it long ago and realised that the sums don't add up even remotely and the consequences for the existing path of travel are both dire and counterproductive to the stated intentions.

                2. AdamWill

                  Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                  Oh, and btw, the problem with end-of-life cleanup being a cost to operators is that the operators know they always have the option of going conveniently bust and dumping it on the government (and the now-insolvent pension plan for the poor schmucks who worked there). There is a fun wheeze the oil and gas industry out here (western Canada) is playing ATM called "sell your distressed assets to a comically under-capitalized startup for pennies, then they can go bust and dump the cost of cleaning up all the environmental damage on the government while you continue coining it in on the wells that are still producing"...

          2. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

            Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

            @Ian Johnston

            Yes, just give me ten years.

        3. Crypto Monad

          Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

          > It should start earning its keep when we have boundless fusion energy.

          I think you've missed the point here.

          Blockchain (in its proof-of-work, Bitcoin-like incarnation) must always be *hard* to mine. The cheaper that electricity or GPUs get, the more of them it will burn - to make sure that there is always a substantial effort required. It essentially has *unlimited* resource requirements, and will always use more than is easily available.

          For almost every application that people think they need blockchain for, what they really need is a notary service. The two contracting parties make an agreement or add to a ledger, get its hash signed by a mutually-agreed notary - job done. It can be done for microcents per transaction.

          The proof-of-work part is only required if (a) it's a store of value in itself, i.e. it intrinsically represents money; and (b) the parties want to bypass all the institutions which traditionally control money, to ensure that assets cannot be frozen or confiscated.

          Therefore, it only makes sense for transactions which take place outside the controls of judiciary and government - and this justifies the high transaction costs.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

            "The proof-of-work part is only required if (a) it's a store of value in itself, i.e. it intrinsically represents money; and (b) the parties want to bypass all the institutions which traditionally control money, to ensure that assets cannot be frozen or confiscated."

            And it's only feasible if the price of the work is greater than the value that's placed on it. The fact that the price is x doesn't mean that people are prepared to value it at x/y where y <=1.

            1. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

              Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

              --And it's only feasible if the price of the work is greater than the value that's placed on it. The fact that the price is x doesn't mean that people are prepared to value it at x/y where y <=1.--

              I think you're missing what goes on in stock exchanges - think of most hi-tech firms when they IPO not having made any money and receive valuations in the multi-billions.

        4. mpi

          Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

          Even fusion energy isn't "boundless". A fusion reactor has a set output maximum.

          For that matter, even a Dyson Swarm or Penrose-Sphere would not be boundless.

          And besides, as our civilisation reaches such heights in technological capability, it also reaches new heights in energy consumption. Sky-Cities, large-scale-spaceships and the industry around building a galactic civilisation and keeping these darn space-amobeas from our traderoutes don't come for free.

          So long story short, even if we find better ways to get energy, there are ALWAYS better thing to use said energy for instead of blowing it into the wind to support some new crypto-fad.

      2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
        Meh

        Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

        I think the idea of moving to proof of stake rather than proof of work is interesting - Shiba Inu, for example, has every possible coin already mined and in circulation already (which is probably why it's worth so little).

        But other than that I don't see much else other than a kind of get rich quick scheme in some ways. (And yes, I own quite a few coins, and no, they're not making me rich)

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

          " proof of stake rather than proof of work"

          Proof of stake is much less energy intensive, but thre still needs to be a way to control new issues. Fixed algorithm is indlexible, central authority is what's trying to be avoided.

          Bottom line with cryptocurrency is that a highly volatile currency cannot be useful as a transactional currency, nor can it work as a long-term value store for someone wanting an investment over decades. So it ends up being a speculative instrument. The only way to stabilise it is to have a central authority that can control issuing of new tokens to stabilise the price.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

            The "speculative instrument" is exactly on the nail if you want to find any benefit to crypto currencies, but that is onlt given to the happy few, a bit like those on top of a pyriamid scheme/scam.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

        "not ideal when climate change is a major issue facing mankind in the short term (and beyond) with potentially dire consequences."

        It's incredible how normalised climate alarmism has become with seemingly sensible, rational and even intelligent people.

        The green agenda is simply another mechanism for the global elite to squeeze every last drop of cash from the masses. It's been estimated that going net zero will cost $150 trillion. Who do you think will pay for this?

        Clue: It certainly won't be the prominent IT globalist that happens to lecture everyone else about going green, yet owns four private jets himself and has recently invested several billion in one of the largest private jet providers!

        Just remember - you will own nothing and be happy.

        This is the real reason bitcoin is being attacked from all angles. It's simply unacceptable that the little people can have a store of wealth that's completely out of reach of those that run the show.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

          What's fun is that a single person owns *a lot* of bitcoins and thus has an effective absolute control over it.

          And looking at the top 10 list of bitcoins owners, those who could easily crash its value if they decided to sell, there are plenty of interesting types, and also Bulgaria and the FBI:

          https://usethebitcoin.com/top-10-richest-bitcoin-owners/#htoc-here-are-the-top-ten-people-institutions-that-held-a-large-number-of-bitcoins-over-time

          I'd rather not have my wealth in reach of people in that list.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

            You could use that argument with almost any asset, for example gold. What would happen to the price if country x decided to sell their entire reserves overnight?

            Still doesn't change the fact that gold is a recognised store of value and I'd argue that BTC is well on its way to becoming one as well.

            1. IanRS

              Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

              What happens when whoever has control of a country's gold reserves not only sells it off, but announces they will in advance, hence boosting the known supply side of the market and crashing the price before the sale?

              If you follow the price of gold, that dip is known as Brown's Bottom. Just one of the stupid things he did. Destroying the UK's private pension industry was another.

            2. Blank Reg Silver badge

              Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

              The difference being that gold has actual value because it actually exists and has actual uses. Unlike bitcoin whose actual value is 0 and therefore is 100% a speculative market. Even beanie babies and tulip bulbs have more intrinsic value than bitcoin, yet they both crashed and burned after flying very high

              As for it being a store of value you need only look at what happens every time the markets take a dive. When the markets take a big hit you can usually see Bitcoin take an even bigger hit, sometimes by an order of magnitude more than the market decline. Gold on the other hand tends to go in the opposite direction, and by much smaller increments

              1. Falmari Silver badge

                Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                @Blank Reg “The difference being that gold has actual value because it actually exists and has actual uses.”

                Existence does not give something value, neither is it required for something to have value. When you take a piss that piss exists, but it does not have value otherwise you would be bottling it. Software in the same way as bitcoin does not exist but software does have value.

                Gold's value until the twentieth century was not because of its usefulness, in most uses other metals would have been better suited. The reason gold was valuable over the past 1.5 millennia and therefore used for barter creating the gold standard was not because it had uses. It was because it was a rare metal that could be fashioned into decoration, displaying your wealth to others.

                If gold was as common as iron it would have been much less valuable than iron. The reason gold was valuable giving us the gold standard was for one reason, it was rare. It was not because it exists or was useful.

                1. Tim99 Silver badge

                  Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                  Several points: People like gold because it's pretty; it is malleable and ductile; hence jewellery and ornaments; it is near permanent (except for aqua regia); heavy, so you can't easily shift large amounts, but sufficiently "'valuable" that an amount that you can carry in a purse can be traded for worthwhile things. Other than gold reserves and jewellery, its main use is electrical circuits/electronics; smaller amounts are used for dentistry and medicine.

                  Piss did, and can, have a value. Until modern times it was collected and sold to make gunpowder; and large amounts were used for cleaning, textiles, and dyeing. It is used as a raw material for many valuable pharmaceuticals (particularly from human females) and is still used in much of the world as fertilizer.

                2. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

                  Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                  I've upvoted you but I think "Existence does not give something value," is wrong. The value may not be much and may even be negative but it exists. Its also changeable. Research FULLER for the middle ages - I remember Tony Robinson's (I think it was him) worst jobs program about it.

                  1. Falmari Silver badge

                    Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                    @LybsterRoy I have to agree with you +,-,0 are all values. +1 :)

                    If something exists it must have value. So if something has value, must it then exist? ;)

                    Maybe not.

                    I think I was being too literal in my use of existence. So I will just say, just because something is not physically tangible for example digital does not mean it does not exist and therefore not have a value.

            3. Mage Silver badge

              Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

              Bitcoin is purely a speculative vehicle.

              Gold has uses in technology and art/jewellery.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                "Gold has uses in technology and art/jewellery."

                Silver is even more useful in electronics and is used in such small quantities per device that it's essentially burned up. There isn't an economical way to recover it. I prefer it as it's easier to posses in spendable quantities. I have yet to get a 1/10g gold chip that I've seen available from vending machines in the Middle East. Those would be easier to spend, but they are super tiny.

        2. juice Silver badge

          Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

          > The green agenda is simply another mechanism for the global elite to squeeze every last drop of cash from the masses. It's been estimated that going net zero will cost $150 trillion. Who do you think will pay for this?

          Conversely, the cost of not going "green" is that billions will die as climate change sweeps across the world.

          > This is the real reason bitcoin is being attacked from all angles. It's simply unacceptable that the little people can have a store of wealth that's completely out of reach of those that run the show.

          No: it's being attacked because the negatives hugely outweigh the positives.

          It deliberately burns vast quantities of energy for no directly useful purpose, thereby driving up energy costs for everyone else and measurably increasing the amount of pollution being pumped out.

          It ties up vast quantities of computing technology for no directly useful purpose.

          It's volatile nature makes it useless as a transactional currency, As does the crippling bottleneck around how many transactions can be processed simultaneously.

          (The volatility also arguably makes it useless as a long term investment, too...)

          It's "anonymous" nature has made it a prime vector for blackmail and criminal money activities.

          Personally, I don't think that's all balanced out by the possibility that the "the little people can have a store of wealth". And looking at how many "little people" lost huge amounts of money back when the big bitcoin bubble burst, I think there's a lot of them who'd actively disagree with you...

          1. AdamWill

            Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

            "Conversely, the cost of not going "green" is that billions will die as climate change sweeps across the world."

            Well, that part's a bit debatable, but what's not seriously debatable is that the cost of not doing it will be a lot more than $150tn in rebuilding large chunks of infrastructure that wind up flooded or burned down.

            1. Richocet

              Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

              True.

              Extinction is a one-way process. When species die, we will never get them back. Not sure why anyone is fine with this.

              The other problems may be unfixable, or take tens of thousands, thousands or hundreds of years to fix. Why is that worth it for the highest quality of life humanity has every seen (our current level in the West)?

              1. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

                Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                --Extinction is a one-way process. When species die, we will never get them back. Not sure why anyone is fine with this.--

                Because its something that's happened "more times than you've had hot dinners"?

                1. that one in the corner

                  Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

                  In the deep past, when a species has gone extinct because of a catastrophic change to its environment, which caused related species (e.g. its predators and prey) to follow it soon after, we weren't affected. But only because we were not there for most of these events.

                  Now, when, say, the bees and other pollinators go extinct, we suffer - and dramatically so.

                  If you want to argue against my example (please do, I have no idea how vulnerable bees are to temperature) I hope you can demonstrate a total knowledge of all the species interactions to show which ones we can "afford" to lose without any problems to us.

          2. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

            Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

            It does surprise me that the people on this site place so much trust in computer models. I'm not as surprised that so few seem to have an understanding of how the climate has changed throughout history.

        3. mstreet

          It's simply unacceptable that the little people can have a store of wealth

          What ever makes you think the little people have the slightest ownership of Bitcoin?

          From what I’ve seen, all the fluctuations in value are caused by the big boys getting in and out.

          Anyone making money off it, is either one of said big boys, or is just playing off the ripples caused whenever they jump in or out.

        4. LionelB Bronze badge

          Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

          The green agenda is simply another mechanism for the global elite to squeeze every last drop of cash from the masses.

          Why would the global elite bother? They're still doing a perfectly good job of that via the fossil fuel industry.

        5. Schultz
          Boffin

          "It's incredible how normalised climate alarmism has become..."

          No, it's incredible how some otherwise literate persons still can't understand the reality of climate change. So many scientists waste their time presenting the physics of climate change in simple layman-digestible terms, presenting the data in simple digestible terms, ...

          But I guess for some this is not about science but about politics. And there are no scientific facts in politics, only opinions. So while I respect your political opinion, I pity you for your lack of scientific understanding.

        6. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

          Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

          I do agree with your second paragraph even if I disagree with the overall conspiracy theory.

        7. veti Silver badge

          Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

          If only you'd mentioned the "plandemic", I could have cleared my Troll Bingo card on a single post.

        8. Cav

          Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

          "sensible, rational and even intelligent people."

          Well, your comment proves you aren't in that group. Warming is a fact and, at this stage, obvious to anyone with more than two brain cells.

      4. AlbertH

        Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

        FFS - don't conflate "climate change" with crypto currency. Both are non-problems:

        "Climate Change" is a ridiculous political construct use to scare the average idiot into unwarranted compliance.

        Crypto currencies will live or die according to their utility - just like any other currency.

    3. Plest Bronze badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

      Ironic from someone with the moniker name after an aged rock star who's now in their 70s.

    4. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

      Truisms do not, by definition, need to be proved.

    5. mark4155

      Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

      Surely old people die for new ideas to be born.

      1. jake Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Lack of comprehension and imagination ...

        "Surely old people die for new ideas to be born."

        From my bookmarks: an interesting paper on the subject ... which suggests otherwise.

        A quote: For example, Nobel Prize winning research is performed at an average age that is 6 years older at the end of the 20thcentury than it was at the beginning(Jones,2010). Figure 2 reconsiders the data from Figure 1 in three different periods and shows this effect, where the tendency for great scientific or technological contributions has been shifting toward later ages."

        So don't listen to the lazy (and becoming lazier!) kids, my fellow aging commentards. There is still life in us yet ... have a beer and a cogitate, you just might figure out how to save the world.

        Here's the link in plaintext, for those who quite sensibly like to know where they are going:

        https://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/faculty/jones-ben/htm/Age%20and%20Scientific%20Genius.pdf

  3. the small snake
    Boffin

    The power consumption thing

    So blockchain fetishers will say that 'oh we use renewable energy is not making carbon blah blah blah'. As all blockchain fetishers they have brains which do not work. Energy is fungible: a joule is a joule and all joules are the same. So we see Sweden saying it is not causing carbon emissions but it is using up all the renewable energy that other people want. So ... those other people are getting their energy where? Gosh they are getting it by burning fossils and puking out carbon. So in fact blockchain fetishers are causing carbon emissions.

    (Yes, I know is edge case where renewable energy becomes free, that is not what is happening here.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The power consumption thing

      They arnt the only ones claiming "green energy"

      Some of these pointless middlemen energy companies are selling "green" energy, that all comes from the same pool of energy the big energy companines have produced.

      I'm sceptical the kWh s rolling into a customers house genuinlely came from a windmill , and if they did it just means normal customers had more coal based kwh than usual.

      see also companies , and even countries claiming to be "carbon neutral"

      Very creative accounting going on there I suspect, probably mainly achieved by ignoring the carbon cost of goods imported.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The power consumption thing

        EDF claim all their power is carbon-neutral...

        That is, all the power *they generate themselves* is carbon-neutral (mainly nukes and renewables)... it's just the nasty stuff (gas/oil/biomass generated) they have to buy in from elsewhere to make up capacity that lets the side down!

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: The power consumption thing

          Can we track how much comes from where in an electronic public domain register of some kind?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The power consumption thing

            That would be a good idea, some sort of ledger maybe. Lets have it distributed across lots of different computers that each check each others ledger to make sure no-one is playing silly games.

            We could organise these receipts or transactions into blocks to make things easier, we could even number these blocks and inscribe the numbers of previous blocks into the current one to make sure people aren't removing or adding blocks without it being checked by all the others on the network. It would be an unbreakable chain of blocks ensuring the security and authenticity of the information.

            Blimey that sounds like a great idea.

            1. Mage Silver badge

              Re: organise these receipts or transactions into blocks

              Nothing needs blockchain.

          2. Crypto Monad

            Re: The power consumption thing

            > Can we track how much comes from where in an electronic public domain register of some kind?

            Yes: it's called "Renewable Obligation Certificates".

            All electricity companies (in the UK) are required to certify that a certain percentage of the electricity they produce is renewable. They can do this by either:

            1. Producing clean energy

            2. Buying ROCs from other companies who produce more clean energy than the minimum required, and hence have surplus ROCs

            This is why, when you buy electricity from a "100% green" supplier, it costs about the same as buying it from a "dirty" supplier. The "100% green" supplier may indeed produce 100% green electricity, at high cost; but they offset this cost by selling their surplus ROCs to other suppliers who are producing less than the minimum.

            The net result is that the government target for percentage renewable energy is met. But it doesn't make the slightest difference where you choose to buy your electricity from.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: The power consumption thing

              Ah, but is there a way to track these ROCs and be sure that no-one is forging them or tampering with them? Duplicate trading and so forth... and why would we trust that tracking mechanism?

              (Am I flogging dead horse here?)

      2. Richocet

        Re: The power consumption thing

        Well written post. Free range eggs work the same way: Most eggs sold are 'free range' but about 5% of all chicken farms are free range.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: The power consumption thing

          Citation for both of those facts?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: The power consumption thing

            You won't get them.

            Interesting fact: Free-range hens are much, much more likely to die from being dismembered alive by predators than battery hens. Here in Sonoma, California I typically lose about 50% of my layers per year to predators because I allow them the freedom to come and go as they please from dawn to dusk ... my neighbor, who keeps his in a covered run, only loses a few if one of his children leaves the door to the hen-house open.

            Free-range for domestic foul ain't what the PETA set would have you believe ... Chickens just aren't built to survive in the wild.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: "Here in Sonoma, California..."

              I hear it's much, much worse in Kentucky.

            2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: The power consumption thing

              Free-range hens are much, much more likely to die from being dismembered alive by predators than battery hens.

              uh hu ,

              and lifers in prison are less likely to get run over than you or I

    2. DRue2514

      Re: The power consumption thing

      The problem with energy is that it cannot be transported over long distances nor stored easily. Renewables have an addtional problem in that generation is not well matched to demand, hence why in the UK we pay a 'green' premium on our bills to pay suppliers when they generate surplus that is not required by the grid. This is where Bitcoin mining could provide demand when energy costs go negative and many RE projects around the world are looking at this to make them financially feasible.

      In the US a lot of mining hash is powered by shale/oil gas burnoff. Up to now this is just wasted energy and it is not cost effective to use it for anything else; again transportation/storage issues of energy.

      1. juice Silver badge

        Re: The power consumption thing

        > The problem with energy is that it cannot be transported over long distances nor stored easily

        I must have imagined all of those high-voltage AC and DC lines which criss-cross the globe. Such as this one in Brazil, which is over 1500 miles long:

        https://www.power-technology.com/features/featurethe-worlds-longest-power-transmission-lines-4167964/

        If you have the infrastructure to hook your power plant up to the internet for mining hashes, then I'm pretty sure that you'll have the infrastructure to set up a power transmission line and sell your electricity to the local power grid.

        It's just that at present, with all the boom/bust speculation around eCurriencies, it's more profitable to literally burn energy for no real-world benefits.

        1. mark4155

          Re: The power consumption thing

          Great link on O/H power distribution. You learn something new every day! An extra upvote if I could.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: The power consumption thing

        This issue isn't new, but its uses in cryptocurrency arguments are mostly incorrect. It's true that a renewable source that's spiky might have problems providing power when it's wanted, but people usually don't bring their mining rigs to those sources just to use them when it's particularly sunny one day while being powered off all night. They want to get their returns from the equipment, and running them only for little chunks of time is not an efficient way to do that. That's why they tend to prefer more predictable power sources, including hydroelectric, nuclear, and fossil fuels. Waste gas burning is stable (while they're extracting from that location) hence it's being used.

      3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: The power consumption thing

        "transportation/storage issues of energy."

        it is o problem , but bitcoining it is about the same use as pissing it away by burning it off

        there should be usefull jobs on standy for the excess energy

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The power consumption thing

          "there should be usefull jobs on standy for the excess energy"

          Yup, like oh, maybe securing a network that enables sound money? Sounds useful to me...

    3. iron Silver badge

      Re: The power consumption thing

      I have a simple answer to the greenwashing cryptoidiots...

      There is a coal power plant in New York that was re-opened just to mine Bitcoin. This plant was old and polluting so it was closed several years ago. A Bitcoin mining company bought it and re-opened it and all the power generated is going to Bitcoin. They are considering buying more old coal power plants.

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/technology-58020010

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: The power consumption thing

        A Bitcoin mining company bought it and re-opened it and all the power generated is going to Bitcoin.

        They bought the building and the site. Their generators run on natural gas, not coal. It's in the article you linked to ...

        1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: The power consumption thing

          without following the link, they still fired up another generator specifically to mine Bitcoin.

          that isnt a win.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: The power consumption thing

            The point is that they fired up a natural gas generator, they didn't re-commission and fire up a disused coal burning power plant plant, as commentard iron disingenuously suggested.

            One can make an awful lot of electricity with little pollution on a standard, common or garden commercial-grade low pressure natural gas connection.

            1. desht

              Re: The power consumption thing

              Natural gas may be a lot less polluting than coal, but it's still a fossil fuel, and firing up new fossil fuel plants just for mining bitcoin is fucking stupid.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: The power consumption thing

                They are probably using LESS fossil fuel per unit of electricity by generating their own on-site than if they purchased it off the grid ... fewer transmission losses. And a modern half-megawatt natural-gas powered gen-set is quite likely more efficient than the aging unit run by the local power company ... and is required by law to be less polluting, as well.

                Note that I agree that the whole bitcoin concept is fucking stupid ... but as long as what they are doing is legal, Shirley choosing the lesser of the two evils is preferred?

                1. Filippo Silver badge

                  Re: The power consumption thing

                  The plant may not be burning coal, but it's still burning - to produce nothing.

                  > "but as long as what they are doing is legal"

                  Aha, that's the whole point. It shouldn't be.

  4. Howard Sway Silver badge

    The dark equation of harm versus good

    It's not so much this equation which will cause the collapse, just the realisation that all this energy consumption has bought is an ever growing store of stupidly massive lists of meaningless numbers on disk drives worldwide that have absolutely no worth, because they have absolutely no use other than being able to add some more meaningless numbers onto them and sell them on to an even bigger mug. There never really was any "good".

    As the article points out, this data contains no usably useful information, only a huge processing cost when used in any business process, so adding it to any business process has no benefit.

    There must be a way of calculating the point at which the energy and processing power available to sustain the blockchain / cryptocurrency fantasy at larger and larger scales is less than the number of mugs that will be able to use it - I am sure that most large financial institutions have already done this sort of modelling so that they know when and how to cash in at the correct points in the collapse.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The dark equation of harm versus good

      Unfortunately, independently of that, there's a large secondary market in just buying and selling these e-Tulips largely fed by the articles published in the mainstream media and read by the gullible.

      1. sebacoustic

        *pure* capitalism

        A lot of the harmful stuff we do, in a capitalist society, is because it's *nice* in one way or another. Yes a monster SUV, a cozy warm house, a flight to Phuket or a 12oz steak from Argentina may be horribly bad for the environment, but they are of benefit to the one who buys them, and earn the seller money.

        Crypto currency removes the "value" from the equation and just fucks up the world for money, no added benefit in the process.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The dark equation of harm versus good

      "... only a huge processing cost when used in any business process, so adding it to any business process has no benefit"

      That's true for legitimate businesses, but as the article pointed out, there are illegitimate businesses for which the existence of cryptocurrency is a great boon. That's at least one reason why cryptocurrency keeps rebounding - those illegitimate businesses drive demand.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The dark equation of harm versus good

      "There must be a way of calculating the point at which the energy and processing power available to sustain the blockchain / cryptocurrency fantasy at larger and larger scales is less than the number of mugs that will be able to use it - I am sure that most large financial institutions have already done this sort of modelling so that they know when and how to cash in at the correct points in the collapse."

      Such a calculation would require quantifying human stupidity, which seems like a difficult exercise at best.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: The dark equation of harm versus good

        "Such a calculation would require quantifying human stupidity, which seems like a difficult exercise at best."

        Some of our greatest minds have worked on this problem. A selection of results follow:

        Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. —Albert Einstein (supposedly)

        Apart from hydrogen, the most common thing in the universe is stupidity. —Harlan Ellison

        There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life. —Frank Zappa

  5. Dave 126 Silver badge

    "[The City of London] does have a role in specialist retail too, the sort where drugs, weaponry, fake ID, hacking data stashes and dubious services [ and people, undue political influence, money laundering, holding money embezzled from poor countries etc etc] are traded"

    Just to compare one thing with another thing. The article read as being narrow and selective... no doubt more due to the constraint of the short-form format than any fault of the author.

  6. DRue2514

    This piece might have some relavance if it was written around 2015 but things have moved on a lot since then.

    Reminds me of the interview with Bill Gates on the Letterman show in 1995 when he is trying to explain the internet and how it would be more useful than radio or magazines to much ridicule. A decade from now we will probably find articles like these just as amusing.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      This piece is incredibly relevant at a time when governments are toying with the idea of having a government-backed funny money scheme.

      Thankfully, in the latest versions, no "mining" is included, it's just you pay 1 (whatever currency) and you get 1 funny money coin.

      I can live with that.

    2. KarMann Silver badge
      Joke

      They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

      -- Carl Sagan

      Same logic applies here.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Ah, the great this therefore that fallacy.

      Let's think of other ideas: I'll start off.

      People were wrong to laugh at Bill Gates explaining the internet therefore they're wrong to laugh at using crystals to cure diseases.

      Your turn.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But by using cryptocurrency to trade in crystal meth ... you can't reason with people who choose to profit greatly from that. So it's OK to unilaterally deprecate their currency while they drown in crocodile tears.

    4. doublelayer Silver badge

      "This piece might have some relavance if it was written around 2015 but things have moved on a lot since then."

      Could you clarify? I do not see that the last six years have done much to change the points listed in the article. I think the original idea of a cryptocurrency has some potential benefits. A currency that is available to everyone because it runs worldwide could reduce the inefficiency of international money transfer. One that is free of external control could weaken dictatorships that use it as a stick to punish the populace. One that cannot be inflated could prevent some types of ill-considered monetary policy (though that one has an obvious counterexample). One that is truly untraceable could limit the invasion of privacy we are frequently subjected to (though that also includes helping those who want to commit crimes with it as well).

      Whether or not you agree with these potential benefits doesn't matter though. The reason is that the successful cryptocurrencies do not live up to any of those potentials. They are hideously inefficient, they have not been adopted in a decentralized way, they do not have any stability in value, even when they have temporarily stable trading, and they do not maintain the privacy of the users. Without the benefits of cryptocurrency as a currency, you have little other than an otherwise useless thing to speculate on while it consumes lots of resources just to exist.

      1. Blank Reg Silver badge

        Except much the "inefficiency" in banking is actually due to regulations designed to deter/prevent fraud, theft, and money laundering. The cost of fixing these minor inconveniences would be that it's easier for criminals to steal and transfer funds before anyone has a chance to stop them

        1. veti Silver badge

          Yes, that's been the rationale behind a huge wave of changes that have been making banking steadily more difficult for the past two decades.

          I'd be interested to see if there's any quantitative analysis of how much crime they've prevented, in total.

  7. DaemonProcess

    decryption

    Since these techs are based on 256-512 bit hashes and public/private key cryptography, I wonder how long it would take a re-programmed mining farm @ 2000 terahashes per second to actually decrypt some of these public keys so the large wallets (even off-exchange ones) are cleaned out. I also wonder whether any state has already started this effort into producing new ASICs for the purpose.

    As for NFTs being useful, to me they are just like Tamagotchi or Pokemon trading cards - on the face of it useless and worthless apart from collectors and they will sooner go out of fashion. I never saw the point of it. Maybe a company will NFT it's software releases one day, to replace certificates.

    The other problem I have with the Crypto ecosystem is that so much of the 'use case' is based on financial services itself - a massive house of cards.

    It's ironic that some of the pegged stablecoins like Tether and co are the ones being targetted by the authorities because those surely have better integration capabilities to the real world - hopefully each government will sort out it's own digital 'denarius' (=10 asses) soon, once they have got beyond quantum decryption worries and the fact that transactions cannot easily be reversed without owning 51% of the market cap etc.

    In spite of that I find the article to be full nay-saying without backing up with much evidence. To help further argument I have to point out that crypto fraud is less reckoned to be less than 10% of the value of currency fraud (e.g. trillions in tax havens, billions stolen by corrupt leaders and banks themselves laundering hundreds of billions (e.g. Danske bank 200Bn told by this guy in this youtube video /v=f8iPIV9cBAs ) Also that the banks themselves now hold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of crypto for themselves and clients.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: decryption

      Assuming that these operations are of equal difficulty to a brute force attack, it would take the Bitcoin network over 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years to crack a single AES-128 key.

      according to "128 or 256 bit Encryption: Which Should I Use?" [Ubiq] But maybe they're just trying to groom victims. Stick with 256 just in case.

  8. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Store of value.

    You can't bet against humanity if you wish to collect your winnings. The best things in life require functioning societies - no matter how decadent or virtuous your tastes. Is there a way of creating a store of value, a la gold or btc, that is based on removing carbon from the atmosphere?

    Kim Stanley Robinson explores this in his excellent Ministry for the Future.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      btc is not a store of value

      It is a store of gullibility.

    2. Blank Reg Silver badge

      "creating a store of value, a la gold or btc, that is based on removing carbon from the atmosphere"

      Remove carbon from the atmosphere and turn it into diamonds :)

      But then if you're really good at it you might start to impact the value of diamonds, and then those with a vested interest in keeping diamond prices artificially inflated may arrange for you to have a little accident.

  9. TRT Silver badge

    Aha!

    The latest copy of New Civil Engineer to drop into my inbox this morning had a headline article about HS2 using blockchain. I've not read it yet, but I've a sneaking suspicion it's going to annoy me greatly*.

    *As an IT-person, a train-enthusiast, and as a taxpayer.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Aha!

      Uh, what does a train need blockchain for? Person waves a card, gets some form of token (*), gets on the train, done.

      * - I suppose the "ticket" could be the blockchain part, but electronic RFID tickets have existed for a long time without being based around heavy duty crypto. Just that which is necessary to stop the great majority of people making fake tickets (a centralised database and sequence number could cover that!).

      1. Ken G
        Trollface

        Re: Aha!

        Because blockchain + IoT

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Because blockchain + IoT

          And everyone knows that IoT stands for "Internet of Trains".

          1. Alumoi Silver badge

            Re: Because blockchain + IoT

            And not long ago it was also in the cloud (of smoke).

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Aha!

          +cloud +AI

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Aha!

        Apparently it's something to do with the supply chain during construction... but don't ask me to explain it because I don't understand it myself.

        Also the chain is the standard unit of measurement for distance along a track in the UK, and a block is the term for a length of track into which a train should not proceed in order to avoid collisions between rolling stock.

  10. Plest Bronze badge

    Something will come of it one day

    What tends to happen is that a new tech appears, it takes time to find a use. If a use it found after all the experiments then something vaguely useful might come from it but it's often far more boring and mundane that originally envisiged as it has to be suitable for use by the "common man".

    Bitcoin is a bit of a fad right now but going forward, when the dust of the earlier adopters starts clear then I think we'll have something useful from it. Bitcoin is very volatile right now and real hardcore investors are very way as it can swing in value against major currencies by huge amounts. Just a few weeks ago a major investor in one coin type moved out and took billions almost killing the value. Today ( 6-DEC-2021 ) the value on Bitcoin to USD was was slaughtered by 20% in one day, $400bn value wiped out in just 48 hours.

    We'll get there and something good will come out of it but right now just keep watching and waiting unless you have money to burn of course.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Something will come of it one day

      Bitcoin has been a fad for the past 15 years.

      It's well into its teens and nothing good has come from it.

      I agree with the author of the article : it's time to put it back into the bottle until the day someone finds an actual use for it.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Something will come of it one day

        I found a use for it.

        Some years ago I decided to experiment with mining because I'd heard all the fuss and wanted to learn about it.

        It paid off my mortgage.

        Now I regret paying off my mortgage because had I not done so I could have paid off 10 such mortgages later. I'm so gullible I fell for that bitcoin scam.

        1. Andy 73

          Re: Something will come of it one day

          And? Will you now remortgage your house and put it all into bitcoin?

          If not, then the 'value' of bitcoin for you is purely historical, and of no relevance to people looking at it right now?

          If I won the lottery last week, that doesn't mean the lottery is suddenly a great place to invest your money.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Something will come of it one day

        Yes it's a teenager now...what are we to do? Hopefully we could introduce Bitcoin to a girl or boy, maybe then Bitcoin will calm down?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Something will come of it one day

      "What tends to happen is that a new tech appears, it takes time to find a use."

      Spot the unstated, unproven assumption.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Something will come of it one day

        Answer: that it will have a use.

      2. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Something will come of it one day

        > What tends to happen is that a new tech appears, it takes time to find a use.

        This is so far from the mark that its inverse is literally proverbial: "Necessity is the mother of invention".

    3. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Something will come of it one day

      Bitcoin is fundamentally useless. It's too slow and expensive to process transactions to be a currency.

      It's also deflationary-by-design, which makes it useless as a currency because it's "always" better never to spend it.

      Blockchain does have uses.

      An immutable ledger where any tampering is discoverable has many uses. Maybe someone will even find an actual use for a distributed consensus blockchain, though I suspect not as everything you might use one for still requires you to trust the actors, at which point there's far cheaper ways to do it.

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Something will come of it one day

        First part 100% true.

        But there is no blockchain application that can't be done far better in a "traditional" way. Blockchain really only exists to make cryptocurrencies look clever.

  11. msobkow Silver badge

    Bitcoin was, is, and will always be a Ponzi scheme where only those who got in early made bank. Later on, it became too expensive to farm coins and by now it must be virtually impossible to do so. That is the joy of non-scalable solutions; eventually you spend so much time "thrashing" that you don't get anything useful done any more, and that is what happens to the bitcoin miners now.

    It does, however, serve a purpose. It feeds the black markets without a reliance on USD.

  12. _reckless

    [OPINION] is the perfect tag

    I actually liked the opinion piece for its writing... but seemingly in contradiction with itself by account of its own laser example. **SUCH** huge advancements by that "solution seeking a problem"

    The blockchain ledger, bitcoin aside for the moment, is a tool like anything. You can't hate knives because they can kill people. The author is highlighting the heists of bitcoin (think back to the Wild West with gold) but the verifiable decentralised public store of information... it takes the domination by a few individuals or enterprises as authoritative bodies and spreads the power (and responsibility, like remembering your keys).

    If I want to trade a goat for some luxury bath salts, I should just be able to swop equivalent (perceived and agreed) value over. With legal tender, the trading is easy but now it's so regulated and so twisted... I must pay for that temporary store of wealth in taxes AND i must be subject to scrutiny about my ownership with the banking system (which is also now shared between banks worldwide)... How is the fight for privacy incongruent with crypto currency? It's not.

    It might seem silly when a eWallet is kept by a third party; but the essence of keeping your own wallet of crypto means that you have stored your value and no-one can know until you use it for trade - And why should they know.

    I'm actually bored of my own comment. I'll leave it at that.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: [OPINION] is the perfect tag

      But that's the whole point of the article : Bitcoin is not a tool. No one has done anything useful with it.

      Lasers started out as something useless as well, today worldwide communication depends on them.

      Bitcoin will never become that useful.

      Kill it.

      With fire.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      _reckless - Re: [OPINION] is the perfect tag

      Oh, so it's tax dodging for the masses then. In this case we do have a useful feature indeed.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah but...

    Totally agree with energy usage - and corrupt and illegal applications which it enables.

    Any thoughts on the steer away from the hegemony of banks, bankers, and corrupt governments for which crypto does stick two fingers up to?

    In terms of environmental initiatives, as tiggity eludes to - it (somehow) seems difficult to actually get people (in power) to do anything even about long-standing max impact activities.

    We could literally just ban trawlers.... max tax on shipping meat and other foods from abroad.... put a plastic tax on any shipped goods....

    Not to say that amount of energy used for something with little / nil value - it is embarrassing.

    1. msobkow Silver badge

      Re: Yeah but...

      "Any thoughts on the steer away from the hegemony of banks..."

      Nope. Because I'm not some teenager out to flip my finger at the world, but an adult who realizes that society comes along with responsibilities and duties as well as rights and benefits.

      As I have no plans to buy a kilo of cocaine or the like, I'm quite fine with the bank knowing I spent $x on my computer.

      BTW, I hear Reynold's Wrap has a special on - they're including a free hat with every roll of tin foil. :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC - Re: Yeah but...

      I'll buy your arguments wholesale if you care to name here a country that has managed to do well without banks and corrupt governments.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Yeah but...

      If some people would put the same effort they put in "make me rich quickly, damn everything else" schemes to fight corrupt governments, the world would be a better place.

      But because corrupt government are made by the same "make me rich quickly, damn everything else" people, it looks there are too many of them to reverse the situation...

      Do bitcoins increase the overall wealth, creating good jobs, diminishing pollution, etc. etc.? No, they don't - they're on the same boat of corrupt governments and laissez-faire hyper-capitalism.

    4. Mage Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Yeah but...

      There is big difference between a Zimbabwe Dollar and the US Dollar or the euro.

      Crypto just replaces banks with dodgy server operators.

      The main central banks are a manageable problem eased by the creation of the euro. There is not even a theoretical better alternative to fiat currency. Crypto certainly is not the solution and it's unworkable as a currency and not scaleable because of blockchain. Blockchain is not scaleable.

      See Bruce Schneier on "trust".

  14. gerdesj Silver badge
    Gimp

    Laser: solution in search of a problem

    Rubbish

    The shark had already been invented and had only just managed to suffer along for millions of years without head mounted lasers.

  15. trevorde Silver badge

    Ultimate endorsement

    When Gartner says it's the 'Next Big Thing' then you know that it's going to be 5h17

  16. Arthur the cat Silver badge
    Headmaster

    In 1960, Theodore H Maiman made the first laser.

    Nit-picking pedantry: he made the first man-made laser. Molecular clouds out in space have been lasing for billions(*) of years.

    (*) Probably.

  17. dbayly

    The doom is a bit too thick

    There are ways to do decentralised blockchain without burning the planet, and there are successful projects that have used this scheme.

    If you don't believe me, go look at https://hedera.com/

    I take the point that ransomware depends upon bitcoin style blockchain, but that doesn't mean you must throw out blockchain entirely. A method of payment is not the cause of a crime, any more than iphone secure messaging is the cause of terrorism. There's a case to be made for money transfer without government supervision, or excessive fees from the transferring entity. Just look at what the big transfer agencies extract from the third world, in fees and exchange rates.

    1. msobkow Silver badge

      Re: The doom is a bit too thick

      I fundamentally disagree with the theory that money has to be anonymous, because I don't engage in illegal activity. I engage in some "questionable" purchases, hobbies, and habits, but they aren't illegal or worthy of blackmail or anything, so I have absolutely no need for "anonymous" purchasing and use plastic for pretty much everything, whether credit or debit.

      The only reason money has to be "anonymous" is to support the black market. Beginning and end of story. But as the politicians receiving suitcases of the stuff are among those who benefit, it isn't going away any time soon...

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: The doom is a bit too thick

      "ways to do decentralised blockchain without burning the planet"

      No, there aren't. It's a pointless tech that only exists to make crypto-currency look secure and clever.

      IBAN works fine. It's free for many. Used in India and EU, but not so much in USA.

      Don't confuse Credit cards and money-wiring services with electronic banking.

  18. martinusher Silver badge

    There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

    When blockchain was first proposed it was obvious that it was going to have scaling issues. It was also obvious that they weren't going to be immediately obvious so for the bandwaggon types the problem either didn't exist or was going to be something that someone else could fix in the future.

    This is really the story of the human race. There's resources to be grabbed, be it fixh, trees, coal, oil or whatever, and the early adopters are so busy making a killing that they ignore any longer term issues (or can afford to pay others to muddy the water for them). Sooner or later reality catches up with them, or rather with the rest of us. Blockchain is only different because its existence is abstract and its despoliation is indirect.

  19. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Silly questions?

    I have read about Bitcoin but not the blockchain protocol itself. Discussions on various fora I visit centre upon whether Bitcoin is money and/or store of value, comparison of Bitcoin with physical gold, and estimates of potential Bitcoin worth vis a vis present day fiat currencies. Concerning the last it is not difficult to make crude estimates based on published figures for global GDP (and similar) with assumptions about proportion of US dollar based transactions transferred to Bitcoin, and arrive at enormous eventual Bitcoin worth on the further assumption this translates into purchasing power.

    Bitcoin's inherent, pre-defined, scarcity is its unique feature compared to gold and commodity backed currencies. Yet it is not scarcity of something desirable or useful to possess in its own right. In the physical world, theoretically one could devise a currency based on shares in Rembrandt paintings or on shares in Shakespeare's original manuscripts; each being finite in supply and with few more, if any, yet to discover.

    Bitcoin are discovered in blocks with difficulty of 'mining' increasing as the number of blocks remaining diminishes: hence corresponding computational energy expenditure from competing miners. From that observation stems my difficulty understanding where this will lead.

    Miners have two specific roles: 'digging out' Bitcoin and, for a fee, facilitating Bitcoinage transfers among Bitcoinage owners. Ordinary Bitcoin nodes initiate transfers and receipts and collectively oversee integrity of the entire process.

    That leaves the question of what happens as ever fewer Bitcoin remain to be mined. How does the business economy of mining work when few coins are left? Presumably miners drop out of the business one by one. Apparently, below a certain number of active miners it becomes feasible for a bad actor to subvert or disrupt the Bitcoin protocol. How is that prevented at the end-stage of a tiny handful of miners?

    When the last Bitcoin is mined, or everyone gives up seeking it, shall enormous energy concentrated on mining be needed to sustain whatever activities remain open to miners? Is prospect of each miner taking a small share of Bitcoinage shifting in ownership sufficient to demand high energy use? What shall complicated computation be for other than seeking the last elusive Bitcoin? Is the sheer size of a global Bitcoinage-based economy sufficient to ensure the transfer role of miners is profitable?

    The term "Bitcoinage" is used to distinguish between the current output from mines which I am led to believe must be in multiples of whole Bitcoins and the unlimited division into smaller units transferable among Bitcoinage players.

    Changing the Bitcoin protocol appears doable when there is adequate agreement among node operators, this signified by them adopting the modified protocol. "Forking" seems a painless way of doing this because each owner of Bitcoinage at time of the 'fork' retains the same nominal holding of base entities in each fork. Hence, for example, Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold were "hard-forked" from Bitcoin into distinct tokens individually traded against traditional currencies and between themselves (Bitcoin included) competing for a share of 'investment' capital held in traditional exchangeable currencies.

    From this arise further questions. Shall Bitcoin fork again to a version no longer requiring miners because remaining coins are not worth the bother? And, consequent upon this, shall independently operated ordinary nodes somehow take on all transmission functions? Shall node operators be rewarded by a share of coinage passing through their nodes as means for encouraging node creation and the resulting security and stability of the network.

    A consequence of the hypothetical fork would be reduction from two tiers of node to one.

    Mining nodes these days are by necessity powerful computational resources and require high bandwidth Internet connections. Nodes run by Bitcoin exchanges need considerable computing power (perhaps more akin to that of servers than mining rigs) and bandwidth too. Similarly, if Bitcoin is taken up, if only as a hedge, by financial institutions and central banks, many more strong nodes will arise. Collectively these would number greatly more than current mining nodes.

    A major theoretical strength of Bitcoin's reliance upon a distributed network rather than centralised processing rests with resilience and constant audit by truly independent nodes. Thus one imagines an ideal Bitcoinage world filled with free-standing nodes operating in spare capacity on personal computers and on those of institutions not connected to finance.

    How might this scale? If Bitcoin is a medium of exchange then fast transaction speed is essential. If a store of value, robustness and diversity of the nodal network may be paramount.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Barry Rueger

    Actually....

    We close down cannabis farms by tracking energy usage and heat production, that'll do it for miners.

    On the point, Canada found a better solution: legalise cannabis.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Actually....

      Hasn't stopped illegal pot growers illegally siphoning great quantities of power to feed incredibly inefficient lights (read: cheap) in order to increase profits, now has it?

  21. Richocet

    We didn't need most of this before marketers made us insecure or otherwise manipulated us into a consumer arms race, at the expense of our planet.

  22. scrubber

    Possible uses for blockchain:

    Please note I detest all of these (except one)

    * A way to store vaccine status and history that governments cannot tamper with

    * A centralised account whereby governments, or their agents, can scrutinize and approve/disapprove of transactions depending on participants and subject matter

    * A traceable, tamper-proof social media identity that can be anonymous online, but also de-anonymised by a court order/signed warrant

    * A non-alterable history of police entries or other public bodies' actions who have a history of editing the record when wrongdoing is uncovered

    * A history of all locations and purchases so that doctors, or others, can see where you've been and what you bought in case of a medical or legal need

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Possible uses for blockchain:

      All of those have better solutions than Blockchain.

      Blockchain also is not scaleable. The transaction cost now is huge.

      1. infinite

        Re: Possible uses for blockchain:

        No, blockchains are highly scalable, and need attract little to no transaction cost. Your beef is with cryptocurrencies, and specifically those with a Proof-of-work consensus algorithm. Not with "blockchains".

  23. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Coat

    The important question...

    Where's the petition for Freddie Mercury's beatification?

  24. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Heat Death

    At the moment we are facing global warming mostly due to our emissions of greenhouse gases, but there is another form of global warming. Rather than preventing heat from being dissipated into space, at some point that we will reach the stage of actually producing more heat than actually can be dissipated into space. If you want to experience what happens, then disconnect your PCs fans and tape up all the holes in the case.

    Sooner or later we, as a species, will have to start reducing our reliance on energy or find a way to get rid of all that heat. Either that or else get off the planet, but even there we will need to learn to manage our energy use. Getting rid of heat is HARD in a vacuum and we are surrounded by vacuum.

    As for the CryptoCurrencies, if you made money from them, then good for you. If you lost money on them, then boohoo. Either way their days are numbered at least in as much as them being untraceable. Our societies will not permit them to continue as they are for much longer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Heat Death

      Most cryptocurrencies are not anonymous or untraceable in the slightest, certainly not bitcoin or Ethereum. It's a public ledger and the money flows are there for all to see, couple that with the fact most on and off ramps have KnowYourCustomer and AntiMoneyLaundering rules in place and it's remarkably transparent to those who need the info such as government agencies etc.

  25. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Run out

    This Guardian article is a burn on social media, but it ends on a great burn on crypto-currencies.

    I could quote it with permission because I used to be internet-friends with the author, like I'm internet-friends with some of you. Great article and great comments, spun my head around.

    [Off topic but my best advice for all of you, friends or not, is go for a run. I can't run now, unexpectedly and without explanation. I always loved running when nobody was watching and assumed I'd have decades more. I mocked my last two young fit girlfriends by racing them running backwards, treasured memories. Go outside and run 50m, run back, savour it like you are a child.]

  26. tralfaz

    Agreed!

    How long can we continue to pretend that the Emperor is wearing new clothes here? The resources being wasted on "developing" this technology could be redirected to so many other useful endeavors.

  27. renniks

    Outlaw all crypto - bloody waste of energy the lot of it

    Also - social media could do with being canned too. Data centers keep on expanding to store the ever growing inane rubbish that people post, plus, the mental harm trolling can do to people etc etc

  28. Dreams65

    I just wish Etherium miners would collectively piss on an exposed wire so I can finally upgrade my GPU.

  29. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    NFTs

    Author is too kind. Worse ownership security than notarised archival paper. How do you store and access an NFT?

    I agree with everything else.

    IBAN is an excellent, free for most users, method to electronically transfer funds. It's secure and has a tiny environmental footprint. Paypal is merely an alternative to the Credit Card duopoly. Western Union is for sending money to someone with no phone, address or bank account. It and similar cash wiring systems are now more regulated to try and reduce fraud and money laundering.

    After cryptocurrencies the biggest finance black hole is the UK. About 60% of money laundering via UK and Cameron called Brexit Referendum when it was clear that the EU would give no UK exemptions to regs decided in 2016, implemented in EU, Switzerland and others in 2019 & 2020.

    British Overseas Territories, IoM, Channel Is, City of London. Offshoring, Tax Havens and Hedge Funds.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    blockchain... doesn't scale... back to the lab

    No future AND here to stay?

    I'm not a fan of bitcoin but.... it seems to have enough momentum at this point that it won't be going away any time soon.

  31. Greg Fawcett

    Fails the Porn Hypothesis Too

    If a new technology is not immediately exploited by the porn industry, it is destined to wither and die.

  32. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Hear, hear!

    One buzzword down. Can't wait for the new ones of 2022. Gartner, where are you?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BEEEEEELION$ !

    Where’d she go?

    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-missing-cryptoqueen/id1480370173

  34. Chris DC

    Appalling 'Journalism'

    What a nasty little article. Tell me, were The Register paid to promote and publish it ?

    Right from the start we've got rubbish like this: "In 2009, Bitcoin was invented – another solution in search of a problem". Really, so FIAT money that is backed by nothing and currently printed non stop in order to keep broken economies on life support isn't a problem then?

    The rest of the article if full of inaccuracies and inconsistencies too, still it does show that if you're printing garbage like this then the banks are seriously concerned that their reign is coming to an end.

    I'm not going to go on. I expected better of The Register, I've now downgraded you to a Junk Bond.

    Appalling 'journalism'

  35. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Back the master (Terry Pratchett)

    In the book "Making Money", it was brought up that even though the cost to make certain coins was more than their face value, they continue to be worth their amount for many many years. Crypto currencies need energy input all of the time.

    I use cash for anything that isn't accounted to me some other way. Utility bills and the like I'll pay via debit/credit/electronic since the great ledger in the sky shows those transactions. When buying goods from a shop, I pay cash. The same goes for petrol and I'd like to see a way to pay for EV charging with cash as at least a backup should the internet be down. I expect that the chargers are collecting the VIN of each car that plugs in to DCFC. Tesla certainly does this as it has to for billing purposes.

  36. plrndl
    Thumb Down

    History Lesson

    Criminals / terrorists / pornographers are ALWAYS the first people to exploit any new technology.

    That is not a good reason to attack it.

  37. infinite

    Yawn

    Yet another work of stunning naiveté or deliberate misinformation. Blockchain, distributed ledger technology, and BTC are totally different layers of a technology stack which the author blithely confuses and conflates in the throes of an unoriginal rant about cryptocurrency. To blame blockchain for the the impact of BTC is like blaming the effects of drink driving on the invention of the wheel.

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