me551ah 15 days ago

It should be illegal everywhere, all Proof of Work does is to calculate trillions of hashes every minute, to discard all of them but one. It's very similar to a lottery, with energy being used instead of tickets.

  • 0xfffafaCrash 15 days ago

    I don’t think Proof of Work should be illegal anywhere. The value is not in what is computed but in what properties it gives to the system.

    What should be addressed though is the problem of negative externalities not being priced in. This is not specific to energy usage of PoW or any other use of energy. Those producing emissions should categorically be required to foot the bill for repairing any damage done and those taxes should be put to use to that end. Once priced in, many things that otherwise commonize costs but privatize profits may prove to be not worth pursuing.

    If the societal good done by certain things is worth the negative externalities, those can be explicitly and transparently funded through subsidies which offset some portion of the costs.

    • woodruffw 15 days ago

      At least in the US, we’ve yet to see any of the social good promised to us by PoW schemes (or cryptocurrencies, more generally). Instead, we’ve seen a lot of diminished trust in civic and financial institutions, plus a lot of unnecessary carbon emissions.

      Given the depth and breath of the costs, banning the use of fossil fuels in PoW schemes doesn’t seem particularly unreasonable. Especially given the broader social goal of reducing fossil fuel use wherever possible.

      • 0xfffafaCrash 15 days ago

        I’m not arguing about the value of crypto here. Personally I think blockchains are vastly overvalued and it is mostly hype/speculation and fraudsters using FOMO are rampant. That’s a separate issue though and should be treated as such.

        There are plenty of things I think people over-value. I may think that buying cars or living in places where you would need them is overvalued, but I won’t argue for banning those. People can form their own opinions on how much they value different things. They shouldn’t however profit from not cleaning up their own messes and having others foot the bill.

        • woodruffw 15 days ago

          What exactly is the objection, then? This bill hasn’t banned PoW schemes; it only restricts them to power sources that are easier (from a policy perspective) to price externalities for.

        • germandiago 15 days ago

          Blockchain is a solid technology for distributed stuff. The technology itself is solid. Even Paypal owner said and faced people in Davos forum when they challenged him to say it would be their bet in the future.

      • RedlineTriad 15 days ago

        I think I have seen a CTF before where you have to solve a quick PoW to get access to the server. Just as an anti-botting measure.

        So there are certainly uses for PoW, but I agree they are few and far between.

    • nells 15 days ago

      There’s absolutely no way to compute the price of the damage that every ton of CO2 is going to do, so whatever value you choose is going to be arbitrary and ultimately unfair.

      • 0xfffafaCrash 15 days ago

        What’s the cost of sequestering each ton of CO2? $30? $90? Prohibitively high for some purposes? Well that seems like a relatively good place to start. Having a positive number adjustable based on large scale statistics does a hell of a lot more to fix market incentives than pricing it at a constant $0 and banning one specific thing (in a way which can’t even be enforced) as a political gimmick.

        • nells 15 days ago

          You can also price it at $0 and NOT ban it.

          • piva00 15 days ago

            And why would you price it at $0 if it's already known it does cause damages. Just because you can't fairly price it doesn't mean it costs zero, that's an absurd logic...

          • 0xfffafaCrash 15 days ago

            Sure, but that does nothing to help with the tragedy of the commons caused by unaddressed negative externalities…

            • nells 15 days ago

              This is more like the politician's syllogism.


              • 0xfffafaCrash 15 days ago

                Except it actually addresses a serious problem on two fronts

                1) reducing the ability to profit off of actions that cause environmental damage thereby aligning the market interest to reduce such actions

                2) funding the investment in reversing the damage

                whereas your suggestion above is doing literally nothing to help…

      • danuker 15 days ago

        A fair minimum tax is one that ensures we stay below catastrophic per-capita emissions, as estimated by the IPCC, created exactly for understanding climate change.

        • germandiago 15 days ago

          Why I have to believe this report when I do not see even accurate weather forecasts one week ahead in many cases?

          I really think that the possibility of obtaining the wrong conclusions are much higher than getting it right, yet the consequences of putting a ton of restrictions is really harmful for many people, especially in developing countries.

          • felurx 15 days ago

            Regarding weather and climate: Those aren't the same thing.

            Maybe you could compare it to dice. It's very hard to predict on what number a dice is going to land. But if you throw it a lot of times, you'll eventually start to see the distribution converge somewhere. And when you then take a drill and make a hole in the side of the dice, or glue something to its side or whatever, and then throw it a lot of times again, you'll see that the distribution changes. Also, you can make reasonable statements about those developments. "If I make it heavier on the side opposite six, I think I'll start seeing more sixes, because the side opposite is pulled down more by gravity". You don't need to be able to predict the short-term outputs of a system to see changes in its long-term trends, and you can absolutely reason about and possibly predict those long-term changes.

            • germandiago 15 days ago

              Maybe you are right guys, Idk. But I am skeptical, not of the change in the climate. That is a fact. But of the whole set of things (full model) that provokes it.

              I think it is a really difficult thing to guess. And anyways, even if it is not, how can you stop it if China, India and US say no to it bc there is no current technology to replace?

              We could be in the situation where a lot of restrictions are set and later the guess is wrong. More expensive energy means putting a ton of people back into poverty, literally.

          • actuallyalys 15 days ago

            Why do I have to believe my math teacher when he says he knows the distribution of rolling a pair of dice 1000 times when he cannot even predict the next roll of the dice?

            • germandiago 15 days ago

              Then the weather forecast should be guessable all the time also I guess. It is not.

              But the dice experiment is: one leaves variables out of the model bc of its overwhelming complexity for what we know so far.

              No, I do not buy this, vote me negative but I do not. If it was true, the weather forecast should be guessable.

            • felurx 15 days ago

              Dang, you beat me to it!

          • danuker 15 days ago

            This report is the outcome of thousands of scientists collaborating.

            What it predicts for developing countries is disaster, which we already see. More droughts in the summer combined with floods in spring/autumn.

            This leads to food insecurity and ecosystem disruption, which will be more harmful than not doing anything.

            Weather is hard to predict short-term, but the long-term trends (i.e. climate) are visible.

      • kelseyfrog 15 days ago

        Right, this includes pricing it at zero which is what we're doing now.

  • texasbigdata 15 days ago

    Why not ban lotteries too? And casinos? Or have some committee legislate all activities a human can engage in? Where do you draw the line? Let the government solve how to produce energy and let it keep their fingers out of our personal lives.

    • acomms 15 days ago If this is your best argument for burning $1 of (subsidized) fossil fuels so you can get $1.05 of crypto you need to reevaluate what you're spending your time on.

      • dskloet 15 days ago

        It shouldn't be subsidized. That's the real problem.

        • leaf8937 15 days ago

          price of electricity should be doubled after a certain high use. lots of businesses just leave their ac and lights on despite not needing, all because its too cheap.

          • BlueTemplar 15 days ago

            Yeah, IMHO it makes no sense that they get cheaper power than residential users (well, it does make financial sense for the electric businesses to attract big customers using low prices, but that's not my point) : the cheapest power should be for the poorest citizens (but with limits to maximum power and lack of guarantees for continuous power supply), while the most expensive power should be for the businesses requiring lots of uninterrupted power ! (Note that cryptominers should be able to deal very well with programmed power cuts...)

            • dskloet 14 days ago

              Even for poor citizens, electricity shouldn't be subsidized. They should get straight up money and decide for themselves if they want to use it for (non-subsidized) electricity or if they can use it more efficiently on something else.

              • BlueTemplar 14 days ago

                In theory, I agree : it's probably everyone else that should be taxed instead.

                The issue here is that at the very bottom you end up with really nasty vicious poverty circles... and now that I think of it, we don't know in advance what kind of combination of minimum low power and low time fraction of guaranteed supply is the best, and how you combine market discovery for that with regulation...

          • germandiago 15 days ago

            There are many people here with a lot of potentially destructive ideas. How do u know the exact needs of each business? What u would do is to make many go bankrupt just bc of a regulation.

            Of course, I know that many of you... as lomg as it is not your own business everything is ok.

            • dskloet 14 days ago

              If they can only exist when subsidized, we need to decide explicitly whether the business is worth subsidizing. Not keep lots of businesses alive through subsidized electricity while they would otherwise not be profitable.

    • marginalia_nu 15 days ago

      Legal gambling is a lesser evil. It would be better for society if gambling did not exist, but if we ban it, it will just happen anyway. Gambling is primarily legal to be able to regulate it. Illegal gambling is a major cash cow for organized crime. (Although organized crime has also been known to muscle in on legal gambling)

      • mcherm 15 days ago

        Your reasoning seems unsound.

        It would [let us assume for the sake of argument] be better for society if proof of work systems did not exist. But if we ban it it will just happen anyway.

        It would be better for society if murder did not exist but even though we banned it, murder just happens anyway.

        • marginalia_nu 15 days ago

          The difference is that while legalized gambling is bad, illegal gambling is much worse, it's more predatory where games can be outright rigged, and it's also funding organized crime and has a corrupting effect on society. A politician owing money to a bank is bad. The same owing money to a mob-affiliated loan shark is worse.

          Banning this type of activity has historically proven difficult, it's basically the lesson we keep re-learning with the prohibition, the war on drugs and so forth.

          • maxwell 15 days ago

            > A politician owing money to a bank is bad.


            • marginalia_nu 15 days ago

              Speaking primarily in the context of being up to your ears in debt, but because it creates a conflict of interest. Such a person is a lot more susceptible to bribes as a means to get out of their predicament, because they can't afford to tell someone waving a bag of money in front of them to piss off.

              Debt is also something foreign intelligence looks for when attempting to recruit spies.

            • germandiago 15 days ago

              A politician is just another mafia in my eyes. There have been mafias that are not worse than politicians in history. Literally.

              • felurx 15 days ago

                I mean... That's not a very strong or interesting statement to make. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of mafias that did less bad than <insert your least favourite dictator here>.

        • sekh60 15 days ago

          I think the difference is that gambling addictions are real and lotteries and other legal gambling is somewhat of a form of harm reduction by minimalizing externalities like organized crime. There is no recognized cryptocurrency addiction.

          • temp12192021 15 days ago

            > There is no recognized cryptocurrency addiction.

            Crypto speculation. Like all speculation is ultimately gambling, which people can get addicted to.

          • germandiago 15 days ago

            No. The difference is that lottery is a legal monopoly of the state to squeeze you. As long as it is them who do it everything is ok. They do not care, they just make ir look better to have the excuse and a monopoly.

        • afarrell 15 days ago

          If there was a auditable publicly-viewable record of all lotteries, then it would be practical to simply ban them. As it is, banning them does more harm than good by funding organizations which also commit murder.

          • zoklet-enjoyer 15 days ago

            Legal gambling funds governments who commit murder

            • afarrell 15 days ago

              Yes, but governments are much less murdery and much more predictable than the sloppy gangs which are funded by lotteries.

        • BlueTemplar 15 days ago

          Uh, if I'm reading this right, by this logic we should also make murder legal ??

          • felurx 15 days ago

            No, because there wouldn't be much benefit to being able to regulate murder. (Also, I don't really think that that'd really work in terms of public approval.)

    • yabones 15 days ago

      Lotteries and casinos don't have massive externalities like crypto does. If running a casino required burning coal 24/7 to produce an absurd amount of energy, creating kilotonnes of CO2 & sulfur dioxide and causing respiratory illnesses, environmental damage, climate change, etc., then it would absolutely be illegal.

      • siwatanejo 15 days ago

        Bitcoin mining uses energy, it does not generate it. What needs to be regulated is the dirty ways of producing energy, they should be banned out right. All fossil fuels.

        But miners just pay their energy bills like any other citizen. Who are you to tell them what activity should they perform with the energy they purchase?

        • felurx 15 days ago

          They aren't like any other citizen, because they use a really, really huge amount of energy. If they did use as little energy as any other citizen, there wouldn't be a problem. If anything, you'd have to compare them to huge companies or something. And those are still significantly different to (and usually more useful to society) cryptominers.

          • siwatanejo 14 days ago

            Sure, so compare them with Google if you want (because I guess google's electricity bill for data centers is huge). Now, why would you want to forbid what bitcoin miners do with the energy they purchase while you don't forbid what Google does with the energy they purchase?

          • ashwagary 15 days ago

            >If anything, you'd have to compare them to huge companies

            Sounds like this is a good reason for them to pay lower rates per kwh.

        • germandiago 15 days ago

          If you ban fossil energies and nuclear/gas I am not sure from where you are going to take all energy from.

          With the current technology it is just impossible.

    • geysersam 15 days ago

      Lotteries and Casinos are also heavily regulated

    • bigbillheck 15 days ago

      > Why not ban lotteries too? And casinos?

      Your terms are acceptable.

  • datadata 15 days ago

    The net hashing that goes into mining increases the security of the network and is quite different from a lottery. The energy consumed produces a real energy barrier that makes it hard to produce a different variant of the next block. It is not a waste, but a sacrifice made to make the blockchain strongly immutable.

    • jraph 15 days ago

      > It is not a waste, but a sacrifice made to make the blockchain strongly immutable

      That's a sacrifice for the whole world and not only for the people it benefits though.

      And I wish nobody made that sacrifice. I don't quite care about the blockchain being strongly immutable. However, I strongly care about global warming.

      > It is not a waste

      Well, it is a waste for anybody who does not need this blockchain. And I'm not sure it's that useful even for its current users.

      "Don't feed the blockchain!"

      • datadata 15 days ago

        Common, this argument is like saying that I don't want you to be able to have Christmas lights on your house. Doing that would be sacrificing energy that the entire world needs for a benefit that only you and your neighbors get, and that non-Christian people might idealologically not care about.

        • jraph 15 days ago

          You have a point.

          However, I indeed don't want Christmas light on my home for somewhat related reasons.gratuitously

          But I suspect Christmas lights are not even close to reaching the levels of energy consumed by blockchain mining worldwide. Even Christmas lights are more useful than PoW blockchains.

          As human beings we are going to consume energy and produce CO2 for pleasure (we are not talking about strict necessity here). Because in the end, I believe enjoying life is almost an (the?) end-goal of life, if any. But we don't need to burn some so gratuitously neither.

          • datadata 15 days ago

            I don't really think the aggregate total is important. You would at least have to then assess if that total is worth the goals of the system or not, which again brings in the subjective judging of whether the thing is important or not. I would rather just tax the externalities and let people decide how to spend inside of that.

            For the record though, bitcoin mining uses more than Christmas lights, but far less than clothes dryers, and far less than gold mining (and gold mining is pretty horrible for human rights and land destruction as well).

            • jraph 15 days ago

              > which again brings in the subjective judging of whether the thing is important or not

              Completely agree.

              > far less than clothes dryers, and far less than gold mining (and gold mining is pretty horrible for human rights and land destruction as well).

              Agree too.

              > I would rather just tax the externalities and let people decide how to spend inside of that.

              Mhm, I don't believe in the effectiveness of this and I think we need something stronger than this, but that's a belief. One problem with taxing externalities is that richer people get to waste more with fewer consequences than poorer people a.k.a they have a right to pollute more / more power to pollute and I don't think we should be able to buy "pollution power". Currently, the amount of money one have is actually already roughly equivalent to one's power to pollute. Limiting the amount of CO2 each people can spend (without the ability to transfer, because that's equivalent to being able to buy pollution power", equally, might be fairer, and that would probably eliminate PoW mining because people will probably want to "spend" their limited amount of pollution in other ways.

              Of course, I'd even prefer that people reach the conclusion that PoW mining is heresy and decide by themselves not to do that. That's an opinion, of course.

              • datadata 15 days ago

                If the externality cost is high enough, consuming more carbon (from being wealthy) should not lead to unfairly contributing to global warming, if we just are able to use the tax revenue to reverse the problem, rather than merely to disincentive adding to the problem.

      • adh636 15 days ago

        Your argument seems to be that energy use that doesn't benefit you is wrong. I would be surprised if the idea of telling purchasers of energy what they can do with it, or computers what calculations they are allowed to make, will find much purchase in the United States.

        • jraph 15 days ago

          I vouched for your comment.


          > Your argument seems to be that energy use that doesn't benefit you is wrong

          Not at all. It's not about me. It's about everybody on Earth. A few people are being, in my view, harmful to everybody, including themselves, for no clear benefits to themselves, and for no gain for society.

          While, like (increasingly) many people, I'm trying hard to not heat my home too much in winter, avoiding planes, avoiding producing waste too much, some people gratuitously burn energy because why not.

          Don't make me look like I'm self-centered or something.

          • adh636 15 days ago

            > A few people are being, in my view, harmful to everybody, including themselves, for no clear benefits to themselves, and for no gain for society.

            This is where your argument keeps falling down for me. This may be your view, but I and many others find great benefit in Bitcoin. I dry my clothes on a clothesline, but don't feel that electric clothes dryers should be made illegal (not sure if you are arguing for this as OP does).

            If you are interested in reading about the ways in which Bitcoin benefits different people around the world I recommend the writing of Alex Gladstein of the Human Rights Foundation.


          • tempera 15 days ago

            80 % of pollution is made by a 100 companies.

            Bitcoin is not one of them.

    • p4bl0 15 days ago

      Sorry, but proof of work is not an immutability mechanism.

      Proof of work is only a way to randomly and incontestably select a participant when participation is open and no one is trustable, i.e., a consensus mechanism (which, once augmented with other conventions (I'm thinking of choosing the longest chain), will also prevent double spending).

      But what makes the blockchain immutable is the Merkle tree structure (each block containing the hash of its parent) and the distribution of the data (which is what guarantees that participants have a comparison point to detect modification). It would work the same without proof of work. A Git repository has the same exact property.

      If anything, proof of work makes mutability easier since it is only required to compute partial collisions to have blocks considered valid.

      • chriswarbo 15 days ago

        Almost. Proof-of-work is an anti-spam mechanism (originally invented for email, as Hashcash). Bitcoin needs this, since it treats the longest chain as "correct".

        For example, if we used a public-writable git repo to track our cryptocurrency transactions, it would have the Merkle structure required for append-only/immutable-history. However, we could get lots of diverging branches; e.g.

                          +--- Commit sending all my money to Alice
          Parent commit --+
                          +--- Commit sending all my money to Bob
        Who gets my money? The consensus mechanism used by Bitcoin will choose the branch with the longest history. In the above case they're equal, so we wait until some more commits appear. If more commits appear on the Alice branch, then that's chosen as the "correct" one. However, Bob can later spam a bunch of commits on top of the other branch (e.g. just sending one coin back-and-forth), until that branch becomes the longest. The consensus will then change, to consider that branch as the "correct" one, and Alice loses all the money (as does anyone she previously sent it to!).

        Proof-of-work makes this spamming much harder. All miners will be trying to add blocks to the longest branch they're aware of (picking arbitrarily, in case there are multiple), since it's unlikely any shorter chain will be able to overtake it (this is a largely self-fulfilling prediction!).

        • p4bl0 15 days ago

          I know all this, thanks.

          Preventing double spending is a feature of the consensus mechanism indeed, if it is augmented with other rules (longest chain wins), but immutability does not rely on it, as I said in the comment you are replying to.

          EDIT: I've updated my previous comment to make it clearer that what I'm saying is "PoW is not an immutability mechanism" (to which answering "you are wrong, PoW prevents double spending" makes little sense).

      • datadata 15 days ago

        You almost understand it, but are missing the actual role of proof of work.

        Merkle tree makes verifying the blockchain datastructure easier, and enables older blocks to be further secured by newer blocks.

        Proof for work however makes producing an entirely alternive blockchain expensive. When looking at the bitcoin blockchain, you can prove exactly how much energy was used to make it, and know that energy was not used for making any other variant. This means you can be confident the blockchain is not a altered forgery meant to defraud you, as this attack would require spending all of that energy again.

        • p4bl0 15 days ago

          Yes, proof of work is a consensus mechanism. But modifying a block discreetly would require a full collision on its hash. Even without proof of work. This is what makes a blockchain immutable, and is not a specificity of blockchains, nor of PoW.

          • datadata 15 days ago

            I'm not talking about a discreet modification of the blockchain. When you bootstrap a bitcoin client, you need to be use that the blockchain is the real one without having to trust another party, otherwise someone could give you a completely different version. By incorporating proof of work, you can prove that the copy of the blockchain you have needed X amount of energy to create. This is what I sort of agree with you that immutability is not the right technical word for this property, but that is what I was getting at.

            • p4bl0 15 days ago

              Bootstrapping a client requires the same trust in the source from which you're getting the blockchain history, with or without PoW. PoW doesn't play a role here. But you're right that immutability does. What can give you confidence is that the version of the blockchain that you got is consistent with what others have and can show you (i.e., that you will be able to be a part of the network). This is the "distributed" part of what make immutability. The amount of energy spent until then plays no role here.

              • datadata 15 days ago

                No, you do not have to trust the source when bootstrapping a client. The proof of energy needed to construct the blockchain is what ensures that the copy you receive is likely to be a held as the consensus, since it would be prohibitively expensive to have multiple versions. Without an energy expenditure, the source could fabricate the entire blockchain just to attack you.

                • p4bl0 15 days ago

                  I never said you had to trust the source, I said that the necessary level of trust is the same (and it is indeed zero).

                  So yes, PoW can give you confidence, but it is unnecessary in practice. Well, let's say it's an additional security measure where something else more trivial is already enough.

                  When you get a copy of the blockchain, verifying if all the Merkle tree structure (without even checking for the PoW) and comparing the last hash (or the few last hashes) with what you see on the network from other sources is enough to be sure that your copy is valid. Because providing you with a fake chain which still has the same last hash would require to have at some point (for the block the attacker –i.e., the source of your copy of the blockchain– wants to modify) found a full collision, which is much more difficult than computing alternative valid PoW.

                  So yeah, here PoW can give you confidence in the copy of the blockchain you get without having to even minimally interact (just looking at a blockchain explorer not controlled by your source for example) with others. But the whole point of the tech is to interact otherwise you don't need to bootstrap a client. So this refinement makes little to no sense.

                  • datadata 14 days ago

                    I think you are just not getting it. In my scenario (downloading the blockchain from nothing and bitcoin not having any proof of work scheme), you would not need to find a full collision as you don't have any hash that you trust to check against anyway. The blockchain you downloaded could have been entirely made up by one person-- e.g. all of the addresses are opened and signed by them, etc. The entire thing is fake. This would be possible to construct with almost no energy, because we have removed proof of work. There would be no way to determine if the blockchain data is real

                    You keep referring to other consensus mechanisms that are not really trustable without the PoW foundation (looking at other copies on the network, blockchain explorer). The beauty of PoW is that it speaks for itself-- you could download the data over an untrusted network with just one peer, and still be confident you got the real thing, because you can prove energy was sacrificed for its construction.

                    PoW has other benefits beyond this quite silly scenario, I am just explaining it again as you don't seem to get it.

                    • p4bl0 14 days ago

                      I'm an associate professor of computer science, and my PhD was in cryptology. I think I know a bit about what I'm talking about here. Please stop assuming people you are talking to are just "not getting it" and try to make an actual effort to think about the answers you get.

                      I'm not talking about other consensus mechanisms. We were first discussing what makes a blockchains immutable, I already explained why PoW is not necessary for that. Then you reframed the discussion to how can you trust that a copy of the blockchain you were just given by someone you don't trust is valid, and you are right that PoW is a solution to this specific problem. My point, again, is that it is an unnecessarily costly solution for this specific problem, because the properties that makes a blockchain immutable (Merkle structure + distribution) are already enough to ensure that in practice, because a fake blockchain copy, even without PoW, will have a different last hash from the real one, and it will be easy to see that by simply comparing it with others sources (if you trust no one, which is one of the requirements for blockchains to be useful, you just need to do that with multiple sources to gain enough confidence, typically ones that are very public and would be easily denounced if they lied). And anyway by participating in the blockchain protocol it will be obvious very soon that your copy doesn't match with everyone else's.

                      The only way this strategy won't work is if the last hash of the Merkle structure is valid while the blockchain copy is not, and the only way for this to happen is if a full collision has been found on the modified block. Which is way more costly than building a PoW valid hash.

                      Let me take an example with another technology that has the same immutability properties as blockchains do but don't use PoW: Git.

                      If you want to get a copy of the git repository of a project and you clone it from my version of the repository, either it is the real repository and everything is fine, or it is not —for example I could have introduced a backdoor somewhere in my version of the project— and then there is two possibilities:

                      1- Using the copy you downloaded from me you won't be able to participate (push or pull) in the project with anyone else than me because the commit log of the copy you got is incompatible with everyone else's version of the repository. You'll quickly understand that something's wrong with mine, and it will even be easy to see at which point the commit history diverges from the other copies of the repository that you attempt to collaborate with.

                      2- I've added my backdoor in a past existing commit, and found a collision in its hash to make it have the exact same hash as the original version of the commit (the one without my backdoor), and I have rebuild the exact same commit history from there. But here it requires me to have computed a full collision, which is actually impossible (at least much more so than computing a valid PoW hashes for a few commits after adding my backdoor), as long as there is no vulnerabilities discovered in the hashing algorithm.

                      Now, if you never interact with anyone else than me, I don't have to find a collision because my commits hashes won't be compared to any others, and then you are right to say that you won't be able to know about the backdoor and that using PoW would make this scenario less plausible (not impossible, but way less plausible) in terms of cost for me. But, even more in the case of bootstrapping a blockchain client, it is the very idea of only interacting with the person you got a copy of the blockchain from that makes no sense.

                      • datadata 14 days ago

                        If you are going to draw attention to your identity and credentials, and also ask the other party to engage more kindly, maybe you shouldn't categorically call the people you are engaging with "idiots" on other platforms, especially given your profession is education. Credentials also are not a proof of understanding something.

                        Your analysis of git makes complete sense to me. I understand how git uses hashes and merkle trees to prevent tampering of data. It is also a good analogy in that bitcoin uses similar properties. I am furthermore perfectly happy to trust a single authoritative source (or trusted peer) when initializing a git repo, it works better that way. But git is not solving the same problem as bitcoin.

                        You concede that PoW is a solution to this problem, but that it is "unnecessarily costly". But you haven't given a solution to the problem that costs less, only argued that in practice the problem has assumptions that are in practice not necessary. You seem to believe that bitcoin without PoW could still in practice arrive at a consensus through either being able to check that a last block hash is the same as the "real hash", or that you would be able to compare your value to multiple sources. These ideas both rely on another consensus system outside of what is promised by bitcoin itself-- either a trusted third party to enshrine what hash is "real", or being able to rely on a consensus merely based on some number of network peers. Number of peers will not work by itself, because there is almost no cost for an attacker to create many dishonest peers. Note that the purpose of an attack of this kind is not merely to defraud users of bitcoin, but could also be a denial of service attack. Seeing peers with different blockchain history would make the network unusable.

                        I also don't understand the hangup over PoW and immutability. Immutability is the concept of data that is not changed. If you have a more precise definition, please give it. This could be split into the idea of a design principle, versus the idea of enforcement of immutability. E.g. using an immutable data structure in a trusted programming environment does not need enforcement. We are only talking about the enforcement aspect. A hash digest is a really strong, almost perfect enforcement-- finding a collision is in practice impossible. A digest hash only guarantees that "if trust the hash, I should trust data that matches the hash also". On the otherhand, PoW does act as a soft form of immutability, using economic barriers rather than cryptographic guarantees. PoW guarantees that "this data could not have been produced, and could not be further changed without expending some amount of physical power, and therefore there are unlikely to be variations of this". This effect is orthogonal to the internal immutability provided by hash digest / merkle trees.

                        • p4bl0 14 days ago

                          > But you haven't given a solution to the problem that costs less, only argued that in practice the problem has assumptions that are in practice not necessary.

                          Aiming for solutions to problems that do not exist is a thing among blockchain aficionados, but I'm not one. Yet, remark that I also addressed the concern that if you do not interact with anyone else than the source of your blockchain copy, PoW makes it largely unlikely, but not impossible, that they would have tempered with the copy they provided you. So even in this scenario you partly rely on broader interactions.

                          > I also don't understand the hangup over PoW and immutability.

                          This whole discussion was started by my answer to your claim that “It [PoW] is not a waste, but a sacrifice made to make the blockchain strongly immutable.”.

                          I don't think it is worth discussing this further.

                          • datadata 14 days ago

                            Cool, you haven't addressed any of the substance of my comment, and made a disparaging remark towards the group of people who think differently from you about blockchains.

  • germandiago 15 days ago

    So let us say I do a transaction and now instead of doing it online I have to take a car and go to city 20 km away, go to the bank, withdraw and go to Western Union and send it abroad. What takes more energy?

    No, forbidden forbiding, please, for things like these.

    • assbuttbuttass 15 days ago

      I'll be generous and assume you use a whole gallon of gas for a 20km trip, that's approx. 34 kWh [0]. Meanwhile, a single Bitcoin transaction takes 1,173 kWh [1]



      • oska 15 days ago

        A single transaction uses the trivial energy it takes to power the device that signs the transaction and whatever trivial amount is required to transmit it to the network. Your quoted sources make the egregious error of considering the energy used to secure the network and protocol as the energy used to process transactions. This ignorant error has been pointed out many times already in the discussion around POW.

      • germandiago 15 days ago

        is it really that polluting? :O: I find myself shocked, let me take a look.

        Anyways, I think the real fear here is from govts. and their loss of control through fiat currency and transaction systems, honestly.

        But that is an entirely different topic...

    • felurx 15 days ago

      If you have a devive you can send crypto with, you almost certainly have a device you can use online banking with.

      Also, I don't really see how this is really relevant, it really sounds like a "But Sometimes" issue, where some edge case of something sucks, but that doesn't say much about if that something in total is bad or not.

  • BoppreH 15 days ago

    The comparison to a lottery is too kind.

    In a lottery the ticket fees go to the organizer, who wastes a little in administrative fees, takes a percentage for themselves, and returns the rest as prizes. Bad for income distribution, but not especially wasteful.

    In a PoW blockchain the "ticket fee" — the electricity and depreciating hardware — is completely used up. The reward doesn't come from the other miners, but from transaction fees and new coins (diluting the value).

    It's like a lottery that uses all the income from tickets to pay for marketing, and the actual prizes are paid by government subsidy.

  • voldacar 15 days ago

    It's my computer though, and I'm paying for the electricity to run it. Why is it any business of yours what calculations I run on it? What an absurd statement.

    • felurx 15 days ago

      If you burn dozens of kilo-watts, and it's not just you but many others too, and you're all doing it in a way that harms society / the global population much more than it benefits us all, it very much is my and everyone's business.

      (Or, in other words: It's my lighter, and I'm paying for the gasoline, so why is it any business of yours what I'm setting on fire with it?)

    • datameta 15 days ago

      Multiply your argument by a million people (some of whom run mining farms) and that's when we have a problem.

    • angelbar 15 days ago

      Subsidized energy is the problem. Or if it is yours to generate it, the permit to pollute for that energy against the public benefits

  • tromp 15 days ago

    > all Proof of Work does is to calculate trillions of hashes

    There's more to mining than hashing [1]. My Cuckoo Cycle Proof-of-Work scheme for example searches random graphs for fixed length cycles.

    It would be more correct to say all the Hashcash Proof-of-Work does is calculating hashes.


    • jraph 15 days ago

      The certificate of this domain is expired. I can't check what it does exactly but I would guess that all your Cuckoo Cycle Proof-of-Work scheme does is [something equivalent to calculating hashes - something equally meaningless in itself - for all intents and purposes of your parent commenter].

      • BlueTemplar 15 days ago

        The point is that it's not all equally meaningless.

        However useful uses (typically finding new primes and similar mathematical searches) seem to be fundamentally incompatible with using a blockchain as a distributed ledger in a zero trust environment, because that usefulness automatically weakens the cryptographic safety ?

  • charlesrocket 15 days ago

    The lottery that is based on non-existing concept like gambling where all the fees piped to one party? Not to mention you can’t use your brain while “playing” since calculating winning locations is illegal. Also it sound like you missing the whole point why all these hashes are discarded and what is being produced at the end of each cycle.

  • tommiegannert 15 days ago

    > all Proof of Work does [---] similar to a lottery

    It's a probabilistic distributed rate limiter to speed up information convergence in a gossip system. I agree it's a wasteful way of deciding what your VCS' HEAD is.

  • ashwagary 15 days ago

    You like the state regulating how electricity can be used? Slippery slope.

  • Mistletoe 15 days ago

    The market is solving the problem for humanity. Ethereum transitioned to proof of stake (99.988% less electricity usage) and the price has now outperformed Bitcoin in the bull market and the bear market.

    • danuker 15 days ago

      Hope it's not susceptible to some yet-undiscovered Sybil attack or network split bug.

    • taolegal 15 days ago

      > The market is solving the problem for humanity

      The market still considers a bitcoin to be worth 10x more than ethereum.

      • Mistletoe 13 days ago

        A better comparison would be market cap and Bitcoin is only about 2x Ethereum right now. If that ever gets closer or flips, I feel like it’s pretty much over for Bitcoin and its first mover advantage and store of money meme.

datadata 15 days ago

Title is grossly incorrect and leading to inflammatory comments. Proof of work has not been made illegal, new proof of work operations that use fossil fuel energy are blocked. Existing proof of work operations, and new operations using non fossil fuel energy are not banned at all.

zhte415 15 days ago

>> Any surplus presumably gets exported downstate, and to the rest of the Eastern grid surely? At least if it is anything like how it works in Scotland.

> Nope, we don’t have enough transmission capacity to the NYC area — proposals to build transmission capability have been blocked by the Sierra Club. NYC is almost exclusively powered by natural gas after the closure of our sole nuclear plant.

That NYC doesn't have a great amount of national grid connectivity seems surprising.

  • woodruffw 15 days ago

    NYSERDA’s current plan is to have the majority (70%) of the downstate power delivery be renewable by 2030[1].

    I agree that the lack of connectivity is surprising, though. My understanding was that the city was actually pretty interconnected with both the state and surrounding states, but it’s possible that some of those connections were reduced after the 2005 blackout. That’s speculation in my part, though.


danuker 16 days ago

Cryptocurrency mining does not cause global warming.

Burning fossil fuel does. Why not ban fossil fuel burning, if the concern is pollution? How are all other industries exempt?

  • coltonv 15 days ago

    Because most fossil fuel burning is powering homes and factories. You know, useful stuff. Spending 3% of the world's power on sustaining a gambling addiction for a fringe group of gullible people who can't recognize when a technology, despite being interesting, has presented no social utility whatsoever (besides helping make scams easier) is bad policy.

    • 0x62 15 days ago

      HN has always been quite anti-crypto, but I'd like to pose a counter argument. I run a remote services-based organisation in a related industry, and we switched to 100% crypto payments across the business.

      It's massively simplified our processes, and improved UX. Our customer base is already crypto-native, which is what makes this possible.

      Users pay us simply by sending funds to our wallet. Our entire payment processing engine is under 300 lines, including USD-denominated fees in crypto. Payments arrive instantly, with almost zero fees, from any country.

      We have no chargebacks or (traditional) payment fraud.

      Our remote staff are paid in crypto, arriving instantly with no cross-border issues.

      • datadata 15 days ago

        The cognitive dissonance here is amazing. Here is an actual application of crypto that is downvoted, while empty talking points around how crypto has zero use cases are always the top comments.

      • polygamous_bat 15 days ago

        What is the service that you are providing? Because whatever field I am in, being unable to provide a customer a refund is a large no-no.

        • mcherm 15 days ago

          The irreversibility of payments in nearly all crypto systems does NOT prevent providing a refund to a customer. That can always be done by making a new payment to the customer.

          One might argue that crypto makes customers unable to demand a refund, or that it is impossible to send a refund to a customer who is so anonymous that the merchant cannot even communicate with them, but these are less obviously a "no-no" for a business.

        • 0x62 15 days ago

          Software development and consulting. None of this prevents us issuing refunds, we can simply reverse a payment by sending the funds back.

      • goodpoint 15 days ago

        > HN has always been quite anti-crypto

        Not even a bit. The tide has changed after endless failures on the side of cryptocurrencies.

      • Gazoche 15 days ago

        > Our customer base is already crypto-native, which is what makes this possible.

        You've said it yourself. If the only way to accept crypto payments is to have a "crypto-native" userbase, what does this say about its utility for society? If the entire crypto industry is self referential, then once you peel back the layers there's not much left but a big system that moves money around in a circle.

        • ashwagary 15 days ago

          >a big system that moves money around in a circle.

          Aren't you describing all fiat currencies? How is the US dollar any different?

      • dekhn 15 days ago

        none of those details justify egregious waste of power

        • 0x62 15 days ago

          YouTube used over 175 times more energy watching Gangnam Style in 2019 than Ethereum uses per year. Paypal uses 100x the power consumed by PoS Ethereum in a year [0].

          This argument was (and still is) valid for PoW algorithms, but energy consumption is now barely a factor for Ethereum, which is the main network we take payments on [1].



          • dekhn 15 days ago

            I am not opposed to proof of stake but your arguments that youtube and paypal are more wasteful isn't super convincing- after all, you picked a video that's been watched billions of times, and paypal provides a very important service.

            • 0x62 15 days ago

              My argument isn't that Paypal is more wasteful necessarily, it's more pointing out the inconsistencies in how value vs sustainability is weighed up.

              Ethereum is currently doing 30 TPS [0], and Paypal ~200 [1]. Assuming that energy usage scales linearly (a naive assumption, but for arguments sake), it could deliver similar value with 10x lower energy consumption, I don't find arguing against the adoption of PoS crypto solely based on sustainability very credible either.



    • danuker 15 days ago

      The users and buyers of cryptocurrency sponsor that spending, and find it worthwhile.

      Who is the government to say otherwise?

      • piva00 15 days ago

        The government is the ultimate safeguard for a whole society, where it should be the steward of common-action when individual action can't be trusted on due to a combination of perverse incentives and issues arising from the tragedy of the commons.

        Without that you have an anarchic lawless society where individualism can flourish and people can exploit whatever they want without regards for the 2nd, 3rd, n-th order impact that an action might cause unto others, because it's invisible or severely hidden to them. Or that they simply don't care about said impact because their personal reward is worth more to them than the benefit of society as a whole.

        • afarrell 15 days ago

          I want a government which is humble about its ability to declare an activity valueless to society. It would have been vastly arrogant to declare that cryptocurrency is useless in 2012. In 2022 it is… debatable.

        • squaredot 15 days ago

          I wouldn't paint everything in black and white. For what concerns the discussed legislation, I think it would be more correct to legislate about goals and leave everybody free on how to achieve them (when needed).

      • coltonv 15 days ago

        The users and buyers of human sex slaves sponsor the human trafficking industry, and find it worthwhile.

        Who is the government to say otherwise?

        Oh yeah, that's right, the government SHOULD actually make policies to cut down on negative affects of things that some people want to do. You know, because that's the whole point of government.

        • danuker 15 days ago

          I agree with cutting negative effects. But I disagree with the unfairness against cryptocurrency. Tax or ban emissions universally, instead.

      • Brian_K_White 15 days ago

        It is exactly the explicit job of the government to say exactly such things. That's who.

        Not because they are god, because they are how society codifies what it wants and sets policies to achieve it.

        Cryptocurrency isn't even banned, only proof of work.

        It's a completely valid thing for a government to set a policy about.

        Especially now that the experiment has been allowed to run without meddling for many years, and the results are well and truly in.

        There might be an argument about invalid interference on day one, but not now.

        • taolegal 15 days ago

          > only proof of work

          Banning proof of work is tantamount to banning computation, it's silly and infeasible unless you want to start monitoring what people calculate.

          Which for anyone remotely sane is laughable on its face.

          • Brian_K_White 14 days ago

            Enforcement practicality is a separate issue.

            The purpose of a state-level policy (state as in government not state as in NY) is to have a state-level agregate effect, not to actually care about each microscopic individual instance.

            If you make a policy that in effect Bitcoin is illegal, that will have a population-scale effect.

            The fact that you can make an argument that 'it's just computation no different from any other computation' is ignorant of the point and kind of jeuvenile. You didn't say anything they didn't know perfectly well.

            • taolegal 14 days ago

              > The fact that you can make an argument that 'it's just computation no different from any other computation' is ignorant of the point and kind of jeuvenile.

              Why call me juvenile? That's not necessary to make your argument. It's rude too and against the rules.

              > Enforcement practicality is a separate issue.

              No it's not, enforcement practicality is the only important issue regarding a law. An unenforceable law is useless.

              • Brian_K_White 14 days ago

                I didn't say it's not an issue, I said it's a separate issue.

                The question of if a thing is harmful or should be controlled or declared illegal, and the question of how the implimentation mechanics of controlling a thing might be done, are two completely different questions. If you had no way to physically prevent murders, that does not then follow that therefor murder shouldn't be illegal. Failing to realize that is yet another example of jeuvenile.

                Practically every law, policy, regulation, code, etc has some element of arbitrariness, interpretation, and discretion or selective enforcement. This one is no different.

      • forgetfulness 15 days ago

        The government should step in when the market can't serve the needs of society, in this case it's cryptocurrency enthusiasts and profiteers not paying for the externalities, causing a detriment to society. A carbon tax scheme aimed directly at cryptocurrency could be another solution, but it sounds like something that would be way more work to enforce.

        • danuker 15 days ago

          > A carbon tax scheme aimed directly at cryptocurrency

          Why not a carbon tax scheme for everyone, period? This is what I'm asking.

          Why is cryptocurrency mining banned, while other "profiteers" (oil companies, gas-electric companies and so on) would not be penalized equally?

          The US has among the highest per-capita carbon emissions.

          • lelag 15 days ago

            I would also welcome a global carbon tax levied at the source (on raw fossil fuel) as it would solve a lot of issues but it's just not gonna happen for political reasons.

            Given that the global carbon tax is unlikely to happen, we might has well take action against proof of work now since it would still be a net benefit for mankind.

          • afarrell 15 days ago

            > why not a carbon tax scheme for everyone

            Because the world is not fair and a general carbon tax will not get passed.

            • forgetfulness 15 days ago

              NYC is not the only city in NY state either, there's lots of sprawl in the rest of the state and punishing car driving that way would be political suicide, besides being a harsh and rushed measure to undo the costly blunder that was planning cities around private vehicle usage.

              That's discounting a federal carbon tax that would go this deep, because that's certainly not happening.

          • piva00 15 days ago

            Because perfect is the enemy of good. A global carbon tax is my dream as well, that won't ever stop me to defend the government trying to tax incredibly wasteful industries as a step towards that. It's not black-and-white.

      • smoldesu 15 days ago

        Normally the government steps in when environmental protections are needed.

      • iso1631 15 days ago

        Those users and buyers do no pay for the externalities they produce

      • smolder 15 days ago

        They hope to find it worthwhile, but are mostly disappointed when their money chasing doesn't pan out. Participation in PoW Blockchain stuff is worthwhile for the black market dealers/buyers, hackers, market manipulators, frauds, miners, and a minority of the speculators with good timing, but the overall utility is awful.

      • mola 15 days ago

        Will they also sponsor making earth hospitable again? They sponsor a tiny amount of what their activities actually cost.

        The goverenment, in liberal democracies, are the people elected representatives.

      • goodpoint 15 days ago

        > Who is the government to say otherwise?

        It's the will of the people and it overrules the will of some cryptobros.

    • havnagiggle 15 days ago

      Just curious if you have considered what level of adoption is needed to change your mind about its utility. If 50% of a country's transactions are through crypto is it now legitimate? If 1% of global transactions are through crypto is it now legitimate? If BTC reaches 100k+ a coin (or a million, idk pick a number) is it now legitimate? Or is it only legitimate once you specifically decide to sell off fiat? If you don't know when you would consider it successful, I am not interested in when you consider it a failure.

      • coltonv 15 days ago

        I'd say 15 years of basically completely unregulated time to come up with even a single reliable use case that even a minority of people get social value out of is enough time to decide a carbon spewing "innovation" has not been valuable and it's time to cut our losses. Looking at crypto now and saying "the use case could come any minute!" is just sunk cost fallacy here. It's important to compare crypto with other innovations. The internet wasn't popular for a while but it was immediately useful and obviously powerful to a steadily growing group from the very beginning and it had no major negative externalities. Lithium ion batteries took decades to become widespread but their consumption of world resources scaled in tandem with their use, they didn't start using consuming massive amounts of lithium capacity BEFORE they were usable, unlike crypto.

        Lithium-ion is a great comparison to because we should, even though there has been adoption of Li batteries, still be willing to say that massive scale lithium strip mining might be worse than having electric cars and it might be worth regulating away. Even if crypto was highly used, doesn't mean we shouldn't regulate it, particularly if it's externalities are worse than the alternatives (and they are).

        Even if crypto did reach 50% of transactions or any of your other examples, and it can't, trustless environments demand waste so that kind of scale isn't possible without earth shattering waste, but for the sake of argument let's say it did, I'd still argue for it's abolishment at a societal level because it does transactions WORSE than everything else. Higher risk, fewer safeguards (oops wrong address, now my money is gone forever vs oops, I'll just call my bank), more emissions, more dark money, more money laundering, more room for scams... I could go on, but hopefully I've made my point.

        • havnagiggle 15 days ago

          It sounds like you're decently informed but then make obviously wrong statements like there is no use case. How can you say decentralized value transfer would not be a "reliable use case that even a minority of people get social value out of"? Decentralized value transfer is its primary use case, and solves a problem for hundreds of millions of people.

          A global currency has now been established successfully (done organically too with no authority behind it), but 15 years is entirely too short of a time frame to guarantee adoption. The primary growth issue has been secure on and off ramps for local users, but that's a short term problem. Amazingly, we already see adoption in some of the poorest corners of the world before the richest. But you already know why that is: first world countries are fine paying a higher premium on every transaction because we can be more wasteful. It does offer some additional services like chargebacks, short-term debt financing, etc. Others aren't as fortunate due to local currency values, local infrastructure, etc. Also worth mentioning, sending any kind of remittance across the globe has a punishing level of fees attached as well. I don't think you are justified to say what we have right now is good enough, because across multiple dimensions it isn't for millions of people. The adoption curves for other countries demonstrates this: there is a need for something new.

          Visa claims their network can handle 24k transactions a second. There are multiple crypto that can approach that throughput without much increase in waste. Lightning network's energy use doesn't scale with the volume of transactions. The security of the network and transaction volume are different dimensions on energy usage, so I think you are off on that point.

          Energy waste is definitely a concern, but IMO should not be the concern for a much needed global financial network. Energy waste must come from global emission agreements and local regulation. High non-renewable energy users should be taxed more. High individual users can also be taxed more. The good thing about crypto is the tradeoff of value add vs energy used is extremely clear to everyone involved. If it doesn't make money people stop doing it, or commit a crime that can be pursued (whether or not it will be is another issue). The economics are transparent, which is extremely important.

          The externalities are not worse than the alternatives, and it's fairly obvious. The alternative is no global finance network. The alternative is an unstable money supply. The alternative is continued manipulation of powerful countries to perpetuate financial repression. The continued funding of middle-men. The slow erosion of financial privacy (TBF, only 1 crypto actually improves this).

          We'll find the energy savings somewhere else, such as the overwhelming wasteful industrial and transportation sectors. Crypto will continue do what makes sense economically. It will continue funding renewable energy and lift up areas with low industry potential but high renewable energy potential.

          The current system loses hundreds of billions of dollars in credit card scams. But CC companies are still profitable. Wire fraud scams are up to $3.5 billion per year. Crypto has a better chance of fixing these through new security processes (there's room for custodial wallets) than the current system. The bank is already going to tell you to take a hike if you were scammed. If you can prove it's identity theft then you will typically be made whole, but even then it's not guaranteed without additional insurance.


    • texasbigdata 15 days ago

      What’s the fossil fuel burn of Bank of America’a entire IT and anti-fraud department?

      I don’t care about the merits of bitcoin, but these simplistic crude and inaccurate legislation attempts are fundamentally market distorting and inefficient and restrict our rights.

      • polygamous_bat 15 days ago

        Whatever it is, I'm sure it's orders of magnitude more sustainable per transaction than the mighty 7 transaction per seconds of Bitcoin.

        • taolegal 15 days ago

          Ok looks like you're going to judge bitcoin on its transaction capacity. There's nearly an infinite number of transactions that can occur nearly instantaneously on L2 with the lightning network for example.

          • polygamous_bat 15 days ago

            Ok, since you are such a big fan of lightning network, can you help me with some quick maths? Imagine we get everyone on the world to adopt Bitcoin + lightning. That means we need to open at least one payment channel for each person. How long would it take to create just that one payment channel per person, if we ignore all other transactions in the Bitcoin blockchain?

            [Spoiler: it's more than 30 years just for onboarding, for those who are curious. For the unaffiliated bystanders, next time you hear "Lightning network solves all issues, layer 2!" chant from the cult, remember that Bitcoin is still a tired old database at the bottom of it that is still looking for a problem to solve.]

            • taolegal 15 days ago

              Lightning works and it's easy for anyone to start using it now. Whether you want to discount it cause it can't immediately onboard the entirety of humanity within an arbitrarily short timeframe is just nitpicking because there certainly will be a protocol capable of achieving that absurd high bar for a trust-less blockchain.

              Spoiler: eltoo & an upgrade with SIGHASH_ANYPREVOUT along with channel factories seems perfectly capable.

              • polygamous_bat 15 days ago

                > Lightning works and it's easy for anyone

                But it will NEVER work for everyone.

                > you want to discount it cause it can't immediately onboard the entirety of humanity within an arbitrarily short timeframe is

                The "arbitrarily short" timeframe is 30 years. That seems kinda long to me. But then again I keep hearing "We're still early!" after 13 years of Bitcoin, so maybe you guys are targeting sometimes next century, in which case, my apologies.

                Oh, and also, it's not _just_ to onboard, it's the first transaction. Anytime you want to settle, close a channel, create a new one, it's the same congestion. Unless you propose people initiate a channel for their newborn so the kid can eventually start using lightning when they get their third real job at 30? That _could_ work, hmm.

                > there certainly will be a protocol capable of achieving that absurd high bar for a trust-less blockchain

                "My project is gonna be working by the time for the final! I swear!" stopped working for me when I graduated high school and entered what some may call the real life. Seems cute that it's still alive and well in the crypto fantasy land to judge things by the publicity pieces instead of what they actually are.

                Anyway, I'm not nitpicking. I'm punching holes through your tired arguments about an inefficient database and how it's the savior of humanity (just to pump up your coinz.)

                To all knee deep bitcoiner, please understand that your future of finance wet dream doesn't actually ever scale to 1% of what's needed, stop burning fossil fuel, and find a new hobby, ffs.

                • taolegal 15 days ago

                  > stopped working for me when I graduated high school and entered what some may call the real life

                  > future of finance wet dream doesn't actually ever scale to 1% of what's needed, stop burning fossil fuel, and find a new hobby, ffs

                  This just seems needlessly vitriolic rather than a substantive argument.

                  I gave you a protocol that doesn't "take 30 years" and you say it's a pipe dream.

      • miroljub 15 days ago

        > What’s the fossil fuel burn of Bank of America’a entire IT and anti-fraud department?

        That brings quite a value. Without anti-fraud measures, you wouldn't have a monetary system.

        • polygamous_bat 15 days ago

          Unfortunately, an apt description for people shilling alternate monetary systems that I once read was: "For them, the largest problem with the banking crisis of 2008 was that they didn't have a finger in the pie." I often think the lack of anti-fraud features may be a feature and not a bug.

      • lightedman 15 days ago

        To quote from BofA's site:

        "We also are making our operations more sustainable – including achieving carbon neutrality and procuring 100% renewable electricity in 2019, a year ahead of schedule."

        Drastically lower than Bitcoin if this is anything to go by. So low you might as well put BofA into a fossil fuel burn limbo contest.

        Given that result took less than three seconds of searching, I'm wondering if you have an ulterior motive in targeting BofA specifically.

        • texasbigdata 15 days ago

          They’re just big, no real ulterior motive.

  • Closi 16 days ago

    One argument would be that the energy isn’t really creating anything extra for the world as mining crypto is a zero sum game - ie adding compute to the network doesn’t create additional coins it just increases difficulty (thus it’s burning fuel for no gain in output in aggregate).

    Ideally we want to use/focus our resources to create things which then create net value.

    • danuker 15 days ago

      The "zero-sum" game is sponsored through buying/holding and transaction fees of cryptocurrency. People see value in it, in spite of its costs.

      • Closi 15 days ago

        I don’t mean in terms of the value of the coin - I mean that if mining activity increases, power consumption goes up but coins produced remains static.

        More mining does not provide more coins, only increased fuel burnt per coin.

        So in total for society, we are burning fuel for nothing in return in aggregate. And let’s be honest - a majority of these coins aren’t going to “citizen crypto miners”, they are typically going to huge scale crypto farms so it’s hardly spreading the wealth.

        • danuker 15 days ago

          I got what you meant.

          But apparently people agree with the >$600k/hour costs [1] it takes to process Bitcoin transactions.

          This cost is taken from the Bitcoin price (via miners selling) and from transaction fees.

          Therefore, they must think they are getting at least that much value out of the system.

          [1] -

          • polygamous_bat 15 days ago

            You very conveniently ignore the cost to society that is caused by the extra pollution. That is an externality that is paid by society and not Bitcoin miners, and thus society has a say about whether miners are allowed to run on fossil fuel in a particular state or not. As it turns out, a lot of things are profitable if you ignore societal costs.

            • danuker 15 days ago

              A fair solution would be to tax pollution, without exceptions.

              The specificity of this law exposes the corrupt interests that have captured the politicians (i.e. Big Oil).

              • polygamous_bat 15 days ago

                If making big bonfires out of old tires and keeping them burning continuously is a new fad, do you ban that by (a) banning old tire bonfires, or (b) taxing tires highly and letting the free market sort it out? Is a government choosing (a) necessarily in the pocket of Big Tire? Or are they also considerate of people who need tires for legitimate purposes, such as driving?

          • Closi 15 days ago

            I’m going to produce a new currency which will be backed by blasting CFCs into the atmosphere. 1 ozone coin is awarded per hour, based on a lottery where you get tickets depending on how much CFC you managed to blast.

            If people are willing to trade this, it must be valuable and also thus must be worth more than the environmental damage being caused.

            • danuker 15 days ago

              Ah well, here I argue that CFCs, same as carbon emissions, should be regulated.

              But it should be fair across all industries.

              My hypothesis is: special laws betray special interest - here, Big Oil still wants most of the world to pollute, but Big Banks want Bitcoin out of the picture.

              • Closi 15 days ago

                > But it should be fair across all industries

                I think this is at the heart of the difference in opinion - if the free market efficiently determines the best use of resources.

                My personal view is that it often doesn’t, and that where it doesn’t that the government should sometimes intervene.

      • polygamous_bat 15 days ago

        Gamblers have always liked to gamble, however from time to time we have banned certain venues of gambling when we have deemed the "value" it provides those certain gamblers do not exceed the social cost of that particular venue of gambling.

        • danuker 15 days ago

          Well then ban it under a gambling argument, not an environmental one.

          • woodruffw 15 days ago

            The gambling and environmental arguments are both variants of the same social externalities argument. It just happens to be the case that PoW schemes produce both negative externalities, rather than just one.

  • marcinzm 15 days ago

    Did you read the linked letter? It says the ban is specifically on crypto-mining that uses fossil fuel power plants but allows it using other power plants.

    • danuker 15 days ago

      I did. It does not answer my question. Why not ban or penalize the cause of the pollution, rather than a customer of the power company?

      • marcinzm 15 days ago

        This is about crypto-mining operations that are running power plants that would otherwise not run. So to your point they are in fact banning the source of the pollution which is fossil fuel power plants. You're still free to pay market rates from the grid for your crypto-mining operations.

        • danuker 15 days ago

          > that are running power plants that would otherwise not run

          No, it says "that are operated through electric generating facilities that use a carbon-based fuel".

          How is using the grid not banned? Does grid energy not use carbon-based fuel?

          • marcinzm 15 days ago

            No, a letter summarizing a law says that, the law itself says:

            >Section 2 places a moratorium on air permit issuance and renewal for an electric generating facility that utilizes a carbon-based fuel and that provides, in whole or in part, behind-the-meter electric energy consumed or utilized by cryptocurrency mining operations that use proof-of-work authentication methods to validate blockchain transactions.

      • PM_me_your_math 15 days ago

        Because then someone would have to hold China to account, and too many US politicians are in China's pocket.

    • thaumasiotes 15 days ago

      > It says the ban is specifically on crypto-mining that uses fossil fuel power plants but allows it using other power plants.

      • BlueTemplar 15 days ago

        Methane is not as fungible though, there's a significant cost to move it, especially via liquefaction.

        Also, as the price of oil goes down because Dilbert (et al.) refuse to buy it, the marginal oil producer (probably US tight oil, ironically, since about 2006) gets priced out of the market, resulting in a decrease of production.

        • thaumasiotes 15 days ago

          Electrical power is far more fungible than oil is.

          If you have a disfavored sector of the economy that isn't allowed to use electricity from fossil fuels, and a favored sector that is, the effect on how much electricity your economy consumes from what sources will be zero until the amount of electricity needed by the disfavored sector exceeds total non-fossil-fuel-based production.

          • BlueTemplar 14 days ago

            No, most of the economy is far more disconnected electricity-wise. And consider what kind of infrastructure it would take to be able to send electricity between, say, Spain and New Zealand !

  • Cthulhu_ 15 days ago

    No, but it's a contributing factor, using up all the power consumption of a small country. Turn off crypto mining, they can turn off a few dozen fossil fuel plants.

    But it's a variant of Parkinson's Law in action; new energy production is gobbled up by whatever industry. We're building huge offshore windmill farms, but their capacity is bought up by datacenters.

    We don't need more green energy per sé; we need to reduce consumption wholesale.

  • xiphias2 15 days ago

    Other industries are not competing with the central banking system.

    It's not the first time new currencies were made illegal, actually it is expected.

    • eloff 15 days ago

      Cryptocurrency isn't very useful as a currency, so it doesn't compete with fiat currencies. You can't use it to buy things, apart from illegal things. The exceptions are fringe uses only.

      • xiphias2 15 days ago

        This is a plain lie. I'm buying most of my things with Bitcoin (using the lightning network).

        I'm offended by people saying that I use it for illegal things, just how I don't suppose a person is a drug dealer just because there's trace cocaine on the money he or she uses.

        • eloff 15 days ago

          Do tell how you pay in a store or restaurant with Bitcoin. Are you just a weirdo who doesn't leave your mom's basement?

          • xiphias2 15 days ago

            As a digital nomad most of my travels (the expensive part of life) are with and (lightning works well with travala, but at least cheapair generally accepts 0-conf, although I wish they would accept lightning payments as well).

            Also I use Binance debit card for payments, they autoconvert to the currency that the country needs.

            Of course I use fiat currency accounts as well, I didn't say that, what I wrote is by Bitcoin payments are not illegal.

            • eloff 15 days ago

              I've never heard of a binance debit card before, that's very interesting. Don't you feel like you're getting screwed by the conversion lately? Bitcoin is so volatile to use as a currency.

              • xiphias2 15 days ago

                Not really, I bought it a long time ago (2013) and I understand that volatility is the price I pay in my life for having a currency that's super hard to print more of.

                Right now I'm on a smaller budget than before, it's no problem for me.

    • danuker 15 days ago

      Well then, is the Governor acting on behalf of the Federal Reserve? Why is this reason not mentioned, and instead, environmental issues are raised?

  • mavhc 15 days ago

    No need to ban fossil fuel burning, just tax all pollution at the level required to clean up said pollution, then use that money to clean up the pollution.

  • datadata 15 days ago

    To be fair, the ban is for crypto mining that uses fossil fuels only. But I completely agree with your point that it should just be a ban on fossil fuels.

    More generally it is troubling that the ban implicitly is an attack against general purpose computing. There is a policy that only certain programs get to use energy sources. Even those who want to kill crypto currencies should think about the downstream consequences of this policy, and what else it could be applied to next.

    • polygamous_bat 15 days ago

      > More generally it is troubling that the ban implicitly is an attack against general purpose computing.

      ASICs that mine Bitcoin are _anything but_ a general purpose computer. It's like saying "banning coal rollers is an affornt against general transportation". I personally would be pretty okay if the ban was against Bitcoin mining ASICs instead, knowing that it does nothing to restrict any other computing freedom.

      • datadata 15 days ago

        The ban is not specifically for bitcoin with asic mining, but for all "proof of work" operations. You are right that most bitcoin hardware is not general purpose computing hardware, but I would still defend the liberty of a business to optimize their hardware for whatever their compute objective is.

  • roland35 15 days ago

    Other industries use energy to produce useful things.

    • dmarcos 15 days ago

      Problem is that usefulness is not universal past essential things. I’m sure we can find many things you find wasteful that I consider useful and vice-versa.

      • roland35 15 days ago

        Having a bunch of computers that don't trust each other all performing random calculations to find a specific hash and then add a small block of data to a globally duplicated append only data structure that processes about 7 transactions per second is pretty useless.

        • ericd 15 days ago

          You (and everyone else quoting low transactions per second figures) seem to be ignoring the parts above BTC that just use it as a net settlement layer, but allow for large numbers of transactions for almost no marginal energy usage per transaction. Lightning wouldn’t be able to do all those transactions without BTC providing that security.

          • roland35 15 days ago

            The only thing crypto needs is another layer of crypto! I'm sure there is another crypto layer that provides FDIC insurance, fraud and loss protection, physical offline methods of payment, etc etc...

            All it serves to do is create more techno-babble that confuses 99% of the population which has no ability to actually understand what the technology actually is and does. So scams fill the void

            • dmarcos 15 days ago

              Bitcoin like any other protocol has certain characteristics and tradeoffs. The traditional monetary system is layered too (credit cards is one of the consumer facing ones). Layered architectures are found everywhere. See the Web: IP, TCP, HTTP. Any concern about those? Do you think a protocol that does it all would be better or even possible?

        • dmarcos 15 days ago

          Why do you think is designed this way? Some think that proof of work is essential in order to have a monetary system that it’s really hard to corrupt hence essential for them. Search for thermodynamically sound money. I’m sure proponents would be open to alternative designs if desired properties are retained.

          • woodruffw 15 days ago

            “Hard to corrupt” is not the choice of phrase I would use, given the last month of cryptocurrency news.

            • dmarcos 15 days ago

              An irresponsible centralized exchange crashing doesn’t challenge the fundamentals of the bitcoin protocol.

              • woodruffw 15 days ago

                Sure. It just belies motives and incentives that I don’t want anywhere in my society, much less near fuel-burning power plants.

                Similarly: nothing about forbidding the use of fossil fuels challenges the fundamentals of the Bitcoin protocol. It’s merely been promoted to the same regulatory status as “burning tires in your backyard for heat.”

        • danuker 15 days ago

          I agree with you here. Which is why I use Bitcoin Cash instead.

          But I believe people should be free to waste/risk their money in general.

          • polygamous_bat 15 days ago

            I don't think I should be allowed to buy all the used tires and burn them on my backyard in an open flame next to the local middle school, even if it is my money and my backyard. What do you think?

          • roland35 15 days ago

            That's all fine, except in this case there are some extreme externalities unfortunately. We are all going to pay the price in the long term for this environmental waste. Sometimes regulations are required to protect a shared resource.

    • slowmotiony 15 days ago

      Who decides what is useful? There's gotta be millions of people playing video games on their 600W RTX builds - how about we ban it as they're obviously not producing anything useful?

      • ericd 15 days ago

        If instead of picking on specific uses of power, we put a price on carbon that allowed us to remove the carbon, most people won’t find it worthwhile to run 600W PCs either.

  • scld 15 days ago

    Because pollution is an easy way to jam through otherwise onerous regulation.

  • geysersam 15 days ago

    Because some uses of fossile fuels are more important than others.

  • davedx 15 days ago

    I guess one argument is bitcoin mining could run when there's excess renewables capacity, and we should save baseload power generation from e.g. coal and nat gas for consumers that need it 24/7 like residential, hospitals, airports and the like. This is quite a heavy handed approach indeed, but yeah it is at state level. Maybe a more nuanced Federal level action is necessary.

    • zdragnar 15 days ago

      The problem isn't the perfect regulation, the problem is enforcement. Without a grid so smart that the meter knows that a plugged in device is mining specific types of cryptocurrency, the regulation is worthless.

      A blanket ban is much easier to enforce, even if "easy" in this context is basically impossible.

  • toolslive 15 days ago

    Indeed. It can be seen as a battery: Superfluous solar power ? Mine! Not enough electricity ? Sell mined coin to buy electricity.

marcinzm 15 days ago

Reading the background this seems a ban of fossil power plants that are used for on-premise crypto-mining rather than crypto-mining more broadly. Basically expanded regulation on which fossil fuel power plants can be allowed to run . Miners are still free to build a different power plant or buy electricity from the grid.

asow92 15 days ago

Life long upstate and downstate New Yorker here. Our winters are long and cold, and you'd think we'd want to make proof of work home heaters instead of banning the stuff outright. Seems like a missed opportunity to make home heating cost neutral.

  • ilyt 15 days ago

    Cost neutral to user maybe but still wasting power... typical crypto short-sighteness.

    Install a heat pump instead, you will save both power and money on heating.

    • asow92 15 days ago

      Well, my furnace is wasting potential energy as we speak, and it isn't making me any money.

      I don't have enough money for a down payment on a new heat pump system... but I might over time if I could offset heating bill with a BTC miner. It's definitely not a waste if my family is warm and my wallet isn't hurting.

davedx 15 days ago

I know Marathon is mining from a coal plant but that's in Montana.

Greenidge mining is apparently mining using a NY based coal plant. They're going to have some... issues.

AustinDev 15 days ago

I just finished setting up my POW mining rack at the office. We don’t have heat and the rack was unused so now we’re generating heat and hashes. I would think this is just as efficient as an electric heater.

  • ericd 15 days ago

    It is exactly as efficient as a resistive electric heater, but heat pumps are 3-4x as efficient.

    • AustinDev 15 days ago

      If I wasn't renting I would install a heat pump but, we don't have that option at the moment. I do throttle it back to 60F ambient temp in the evening when no one is there. I use a raspi with a temp sensor to control the speed of the hashing in the cluster.

    • kloch 15 days ago

      Heat pumps only work at that level of efficiency above about 10 degrees C. That is why they often have integrated electric resistance heaters.

      • ericd 15 days ago

        Not true anymore. Check out eg the Mitsubishi Hyper-Heat, if I’m reading the COP right, it’s something like 280% efficient at -8 C.

      • ericpauley 15 days ago

        This is an antiquated figure. Modern heat pumps maintain competitive performance at much lower temperatures.

  • Areading314 15 days ago

    Its less efficient than a heater because some energy is wasted computing hashes

    • BlueTemplar 15 days ago

      Energy, by definition, cannot be "wasted" like this.

      • Areading314 15 days ago

        If you think of a computer as a heat engine.. some energy goes to heat, and some goes into doing "work". For analyzing the efficiency of a computer as a heater you have to subtract out the "work" which would be the hashing computations, making it less efficient than a pure heating coil (assuming the crypto hashing is 100% worthless)

        • BlueTemplar 15 days ago

          My bad, I should have directly given the explanation :

          Energy is (by definition) always conserved.

          What happens in a computer is that in order to do computation (in almost all of the computers we use today) you have to move around electric charges. This requires energy and converts ALL¤ of this energy to heat.

          ¤ Or almost : a tiny fraction probably ends in physical and chemical changes that slowly accumulate and degrade the computer.

          It's because a computer is NOT a heat engine : it (typically) runs on electricity and not heat, and it's not the (quantum)"mechanical" work it needs to do in order to do computation that we care about. (Heat engine's mechanical work also often ends up (almost) all dissipated as heat by friction : consider a car moving on a level road.)

          Also, by the fundamental principle of energo-informatics, it has to transform some of that electric energy into a form of energy that the observer knows less about (like random movements of particles we call "heat"), in order for the observer to carry computation, which involves at some point losing information about the system (you pretty much have to erase bits at some point). (Our computers are still waaay above the limit this creates - but we might hit it this century !)

          • Areading314 14 days ago

            OK I'm genuinely curious now.. wouldn't the fact that a computation has taken place mean that energy has been used to do work (non-heat)? My intuition tells me that it would not be possible to simultaneously use energy 100% to generate heat and do something else at the same time. For example if you used an electric motor to move a weight against massive friction, it could be that 99% of energy is lost to heat due to resistance in wires and friction, but if the weight moved, it would mean that not all energy was lost to heat.

            • BlueTemplar 12 days ago

              Yeah, but in the computer example you are doing the equivalent of then lowering that weight again (possibly getting 1% of that gravitational energy back) : we're assuming that the energetic potential of the bits across the computer stays on average the same across enough time.

SevenNation 15 days ago

Highly misleading title. The actual text of the bill is available here:

The subjects of this policy are not miners, but "electric generating facilities":


bumholio 15 days ago

Instead of banning proof of work they should firewall crypto assets from the traditional financial system.

"Let crypto burn" as they say, both figuratively and in the practical sense, let them burn resources but only it they can pay for them by creating value outside their own bubble, services for which people are willing to pay. Currently the massive impetus of the resource burn is crypto speculation, the hope that a substantial part of the traditional financial system will move to crypto systems and take advantage of the low regulations. That's the major promise of crypto that's driving adoption in the traditional space, regulatory arbitrage.

wslh 16 days ago

One of the reasons software and hardware had a revolutionary growth was because regulators were mainly out of the scope. It is natural that once they are omnipresent regulators appear but the problems with regulations and politicians is they end up with an "accept cookies" checkbox on every web page.

When I first read the title, I thought the article was about a work permissions in US and not about the blockchain consensus mechanism. And I have a company in the c̶r̶y̶p̶t̶o̶ Web3 sector.

  • mrkeen 15 days ago

    > the problems with regulations and politicians is they end up with an "accept cookies" checkbox on every web page.

    Like ghastly pictures of people dying on cigarette packages, I'll take informed consent anyday.

  • iso1631 15 days ago

    > the problems with regulations and politicians is they end up with an "accept cookies" checkbox on every web page

    The GDPR does not require these.

    There are website operators who want to use your personal data without consent to benefit themselves and erroneously believe sticking such a banner on a webpage allows them to.

    That's entirely on those website operators who make up their own rules.

PeterStuer 15 days ago

So you can waste energy as long as the result is something that will end up in a landfill the week after?

Cyberdog 16 days ago

> The law will prohibit Environmental Conservation Law permits from being issued for two years to proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining operations that are operated through electric generating facilities that use a carbon-based fuel.

Not really clear at what point your mining approaches an "operation" which requires a permit, but perhaps that's spelled out in some other law somewhere.

I love the two year time limit. I'd love for it to be constitutionally mandated that all laws have to have a time limit of no more than five years or so. If the time passes and the law isn't renewed, into the incinerator that law goes.

  • tgv 16 days ago

    I'm not in favor of such short time limits. How can you possibly review all laws every couple of years? That would put even more pressure on the legislative branch, with the result that each and every rule is passed unseen, and everyone loses time anyway.

  • realce 16 days ago

    Legislating would collapse under the simple iterative maintenance of such a policy. Every year would be N+(this year's new legislation).

    • throwup 16 days ago

      I don't think the set of laws should be growing boundlessly year after year. Another idea is to adapt the house cleaning rule: to pass a new law, you must first get rid of an old law.

      • geysersam 15 days ago

        Why put such arbitrary restrictions on our elected lawmakers?

        Reducing regulatory complexity is a worthwhile goal, but that's a bad way of going about it.

        • enraged_camel 15 days ago

          Just imagine: the day after the new search feature goes live, the product manager comes to you and asks where the user profiles have gone. You say, "oh, I removed them - I think it's a good idea to remove an existing feature after adding a new one! Complexity, after all, is bad!"

          • BlueTemplar 15 days ago

            If you try to show all the icon bars in Office at the same time, you'll end up with half of your screen buried under them. There are diminishing returns.

      • polygamous_bat 15 days ago

        Replace "laws" with "features" or "lines of code" in your comment. Read it again. How much sense does it make?

        • Cyberdog 15 days ago

          My friend, I don't think that's the epic airtight gotcha that you think it is…

          • polygamous_bat 15 days ago

            You did not explain why, though. So I must remain here in my belief that my argument makes clear sense.

    • saalweachter 15 days ago

      Hint: this is a feature for people proposing this sort of thing. They want legislating to be pared down to where nothing is regulated, and the only crimes are property crimes.

      Everyone else just likes stability, knowing that the law tomorrow will mostly be the same as the law today.

    • sokoloff 16 days ago

      Perhaps society doesn't need an ever linearly-increasing body of laws?

      • enraged_camel 15 days ago

        Life today is immensely more complex than it was in the past, and you need to pass new laws (and amend the older ones) to keep up with it.

  • bragr 16 days ago

    >but perhaps that's spelled out in some other law somewhere.

    It's literally in the text that you quoted. If they need a permit to operate a fossil fuel powerplant for mining, the answer is now no for 2 years.

  • TheCowboy 15 days ago

    Sunset clauses often just end up wasting everyone's time at best, and a common worst case is it creates a platform for political brinkmanship and grandstanding around passing an extension that should be straightforward.

none_to_remain 16 days ago

Other things illegal in New York

* Selling weed out of an unlicensed storefront

* Punching strangers in the face for no reason

* Jaywalking

jinpa_zangpo 15 days ago

Banning proof of work is one step from a free market economy towards a socialist economy, where the government decides what will and will not be produced. If you believe that government is wise enough to decide what should and should not be made and kind enough to always consider the need of the people ahead of their own interests, this will seem like a good idea. But anyone who has studied recent history will understand that it is not.

throw827474737 15 days ago

Oooh these blind Americans, why did they rely so much on Russian gas, and didn't invest more in new green nuclear energy? Now a lot of them will freeze to death this winter :(

  • danuker 15 days ago

    Nuclear has immense capital costs. Considering the exponential drop in solar/wind installation costs in the past few decades, it might turn out a bad investment.

  • nerdponx 15 days ago

    The USA will be fine when it comes to heat.