Thoughts on Crypto and Energy

As a techie/nerd guy, I had avoided the Bitcoin fad when it started.  For over 2 decades I built powerful PC gaming machines for, well… gaming.  But as time will tell, the combination of last years huge hype and growth, along with an old acquaintance, lured me into the world of cryptocurrencies.  Now, I’ve never been one to dabble with the stock market, so staring at tickers on digital cash doesn’t entertain me.  But as a hardware geek, I was eager to play around with some system builds.

I’m not going to bore with you with all the ins and outs of how the crypto world operates.  Just know this - there needs to be powerful computers that can process complex algorithms to keep a distributed online ledger accurate.  We call those mining machines, and that’s what I do - I’m a miner.  But there’s one problem with these machines…  They run HOT and need TONS of POWER!

Currently, I’m running this out of my garage, but this non-climate controlled environment, combined with living in the city of Phoenix, doesn’t bode well for an all season operation.  The other problem is the algorithms that the mining machines are trying to process, continuously increases in difficulty, requiring more powerful hardware to keep up.  This is taking it’s toll not just on a personal miner’s account, but power globally is taking a huge hit as well.

While power usage and wasted energy is the most serious negative impact cryptocurrencies have created.  There is another issue that has stemmed from people trying to become bitcoin rich.  A lack of GPU cards.  Ya, many crypto algorithms can be processed with the usage of the highly coveted gaming video cards.  There is a shortage of them, and what you do find for sale is usually way over the MSRP price.

So, being in the middle of this, I started to think about what could change with these cryptocurrencies to reduce both power and the requirement of gaming video cards.  What is a resource that people can’t just overly consume in their homes at all times.  Then a light bulb went off - bandwidth.  It’s something most people value that won’t and/or can’t overly consume without affecting their quality of life.  

Perhaps a fairly easy to compute algorithm that requires lots of bandwidth to send the information back and forth.  The demand for tons of power would drop and it would restrict a normal person’s mining efforts to only operate when they are not using their internet - so maybe when they are at work or while sleeping.  I’m sure serious miners will pay for more bandwidth, or add another line.  And dedicated mining companies will still operate 24/7.  But the overall power consumption should drop, and the demand for video game cards and specialized hardware for mining would stabilize.

I could be wrong, and it could be a terrible idea that ruins the internet as it tries to cope with the added introduction of trillions of packets flying from router to router.  Or…perhaps the Internet will become more robust and faster overall for everyone…

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