A report in Express recently quoted chief scientist at SETI Dan Werthimer expressing concern over the organisation being forced to take it easy over their plans to double their expansions, due to the sudden interest in cryptocurrency mining. Given the surge in the popularity of cryptocurrency after the prices for Bitcoin rocketed, people are buying GPUs fervently to mine more and more coins, which has caused a shortage in the market.
SETI or Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence has been a major global venture which has been looking for any signs of intelligent life in the universe by scanning images, EM frequencies and other such information gathered by receptors across the globe, be it telescopes or other instruments. The initiative famously brought in people to contribute in this search, where people can volunteer their efforts as well as their computers’ capabilities to make scanning through the ton of data easier. Apart from that, the venture has its own dedicated technology as well which is where the lion’s share of activity could be taking place. Lately however, the interest in mining Bitcoin has caused people to buy GPUs and dry out the market supply entirely, which becomes a big hurdle in the organisation’s expansion plans. You can read the quotes of the chief scientist in the original article linked here.
The news is big in a lot of perspectives. It illustrates to us how the cryptocurrency fad is not only causing people to lose money (why would you buy a coin greedily as the market climbs and then watch you lose your investment as the price plummets causing a mass dumping), but it also has other potentially far reaching consequences for us as a race. It adds to the growing concern that Bitcoin mining is another way humans are blindly aggravating global warming.
The internet is known to contribute as much as 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. That’s as much as half of all the emissions of a developed and industrialised country like the UK. Bitcoin mining is also known to be extremely slow and wholly uneconomical, given how poorly the monetary value on one bitcoin and the time and resources (along with their costs) it can take to manage to mine one BTC. Adding to that is the problem on limited utility in the real market that still needs to be dealt with by cryptocurrency developers. Coins that integrate banking and cryptocoins are largely despised in the market.
Now that the cryptocurrency fad could be marring our chances at discovering intelligent civilisations in the universe, it becomes important to consider what is the net civilisational cost of this collective craze that seems to have gripped our word. It is no secret among those who know about the cryptocurrency scene that mining is really not a profitable venture when you account for the electricity and the internet and the hardware costs. The concern of rising environmental cost only lends the position more gravitas. It is exceptionally important that people learn and research about cryptocurrency before joining the bandwagon with uninformed opinions and unrealistic expectations that could not just cause them much heartache and financial loss, but also harm mankind in the long run. Stop mining for the money, people! Learn to trade instead!