Environmental Implications of CryptoCurrency Mining with GPUs *spawn*

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Grall, Mar 17, 2018.

  1. pcchen

    pcchen Moderator
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    If they believe they are effectively subsidizing, they can easily raise the electricity price for those miners, just like what New York is proposing to do.
    Otherwise, what I'm doing with the electricity I paid with my money is my own business (and so do everyone else). Or are you suggesting that everyone has to get their electricity use "approved" by the regulators, to make sure that they are not "making nothing"?
     
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  2. Bludd

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    I won't answer for Grall, but I am not suggesting that. I am saying it is a matter of scale. If you want to build a factory somewhere which needs a lot of electricity, you have to seek approval from the local council or whatever.

    It needs to be that way for coin factories too because of the enormous energy requirement.

    As for the "making nothing", in a more perfect world the PoW for coins would be beneficial like folding proteins or curing cancer or something, not the way it is now where you are just wasting power.
     
  3. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    Electricity is a finite and precious resource. I'm a socialist; I absolutely believe that if you're a major consumer of important resources you should be doing something important with it, not just selfishly squandering it on crypto bullshit.

    Merely because you think you're paying for something doesn't mean you're above criticism, or beyond the influence of the law for that matter...
     
  4. Malo

    Malo Yak Mechanicum
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    How would they tell who is mining or not? Wouldn't they have to get a court order to search the premises? Oh you're not mining, you're just growing a bunch of weed.
     
  5. 3dilettante

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    I think it's been packaged together with a set of assumptions and other ideals that have negative implications and interactions with one another. There's a choatic mix of other motivations and schools of thought from monetary, economic, and social systems built in.

    The thing is, when two or more seemingly contradictory elements intersect, they can for a time be reconciled. It usually involves sacrificing something else, or making someone else pay the price.
    The trustless decentralized ledger with in-built monetary theory and an allergy towards governance needed to sacrifice other things, and that turned out to be an external resource, moderation, and the well-being of systems and people it impacted.

    So a positive feedback loop whose side effects are offloaded onto anyone else it can find does not seem like it is compensated adequately by a marginally lower cost of doing business with money transfers in the event that it crosses between established networks.

    Specific implementations have costs, which practitioners universally do a poor job of handling themselves.

    You'd want a selfless AI programmed to never commit fraud or disclose information to do the ledger processing. It would be able to recover from catastrophic events or flaws in a manner not self-serving while preserving as much of the correct transactions as possible.
    It wouldn't need to mine and it wouldn't need to necessarily care about the number of blocks. New ones cold be fed in by outside maintainers unless a monetary policy AI is created.

    A highly efficient transactional network that manages its costs well would not serve the self-interest of person's profit motive as much as a mining or transaction node on a coin that facilitates inefficiencies that raise transaction or block reward, or allows costs or liabilities to be passed on.

    Existing coins have exchanges and committees or designers that steer the algorithm with patches and hard forks. There's one or more third parties now, and even if a coin became an actual currency that didn't need a third party for easy conversion, its software support and stakeholders are a slow or absentee one.

    The extreme volatility of these so-called currencies seems to show none of them have it figured out.

    The growth was more organic and modest in scope. It didn't have the amplifying effect of a method capable of exponential or super-human reactivity, and there was a more direct path for redress, clawback, or retribution as moderation or corrective factor.

    A method that is mathematically and philosophically resistant or evasive to that last informal mechanism is perhaps blind or very cynically aware of the nature of the problem space it claims to solve.

    Altogether as they are in Bitcoin, their impact is greater than the sum of their parts. Coins that have a substantial overlap may not reach its extremes, but from the power numbers estimated earlier it's a matter of being at least 20X worse each versus at least 50X worse all on its own.
    For the purposes of this thread, the major factors appear to be how equivalent power consumption is to revenue, and how strongly the coin limits or encourages an arms race to maintain the multiplier of the former relationship.

    The price per coin and other considerations are more political in nature, though some elements of it appear to have feedback effects such as how well abusers can avoid society's existing methods of curtailing negative externalities, or make it difficult to self-correct.

    What is the relative gain in utility for an unbounded trustless PoW method? In absolute terms, the hash rate and number of nodes needed to secure a block chain from external threat is vastly exceeded by the existing network, and it's seemingly for philosophical reasons rather than a practical one.

    If they aren't mining with proof method that has unbounded consumption habits, then they'd fall out the scope of this thread's topic on environmental impact--unless said scheme is proof-of-whale-killing or some other tragedy of the commons.
    Any method that produced a limit on how many can be involved in the process or injects a level of coordination or hierarchy tends to hit one of the pain points for cryptocurrency proponents. Which element would you propose sacrificing?

    To note, most people don't, and not everyone can avoid the side-effects that get amplified by unsustainable behavior in their vicinity.
    Also if a system doesn't work for one person, they can just copy an existing coin and even an existing blockchain, maybe tweak it, and launch it.

    That's part of the problem as well from the point of view of a store of value and transaction element. A useful fiction derives the most utility the more universal it is, but having near-zero cost to making up one's own useful fiction seems to be missing the point.

    The other half is in the category of "what does this make better again?"
     
  6. MfA

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    This is stupidity, non discrimination is not some god given right ... it's a government granted privilege (a privilege they should not provide miners). You can't at the same time say "mommy government should stop smothering us" and "mommy government should make electricity company give us power on demand without discrimination". Not without being a giant hypocrite any way.

    There are very good economic reasons for electricity companies to discriminate against miners. They are a very unreliable load, expanding your production capacity massively one year for some customers who might not be around the next is not good business. You're a bunch of leeches negatively affecting infrastructure and pushing your costs on society. Take out a 10 year collateralized contract if you want electricity as cheaply as industry or even normal domestic use. Otherwise you should get discriminated against.

    Cryptocurrency mining is not a cottage industry, it's tax evasion, it's pollution, it's waste, it's pushing costs on others who aren't even part of your pyramid game. There are literally no benefits and it should be banned immediately. Cut off the exchanges from credit card and bank transfers now, yes it will hurt ... but allowing this fucking circus to go on is doing untold damage. It was funny for a while, but no more.
     
    #46 MfA, Mar 22, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
  7. 3dilettante

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    I think there is a gridcoin or the like, though I've seen criticism as to the quality of implementation. I'm not sure if it makes the actual calculations part of its work.

    I've seen discussion on whether many scientific workloads can fit the conditions of PoW without compromising it on one way or another.
    The blockchain is supposed to be computationally hard to create or falsify, while being fast and easy to validate. The right answer for a simulation is often not clear without doing something similarly expensive. For security purposes, it helps to avoid patterns in the algorithm or source, and few phenomena are pure chaos.
    The waste of power is in its purest sense, the point of PoW. Something needs to be sacrificed to make re-creating or counterfeiting the blockchain expensive, and electrical power is the one constant for all users of a computational method.


    The non-hobbyist miner's electrical use patterns and power density are highly anomalous in residential settings and might stand out in many commercial/industrial ones as well. Once in the realm of commercial or industrial contracts, there's likely more permitting for the facility, electrical contracts and infrastructure scaled up for the purpose, and inspections as well.

    At least in many jurisdictions in the United States, the excessive power consumption measured by the utility's meter in a residence is already probable cause for investigation of an illegal pot farm. The thermal output of the house can also be detected by thermal cameras.
    Even if the plant were fully legal, that scale of farming and commercial usage might prompt curiosity as far as permitting or building codes go, and the absence of it might mean mining rigs by process of elimination.
     
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  8. Bludd

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    If that is the point, then it is even more than worthless, it is actually damaging.
     
  9. pcchen

    pcchen Moderator
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    So who's to decide which are "important" and which are not? You?
    Sorry, this reminds me why I can't stand socialists...
     
  10. pcchen

    pcchen Moderator
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    Did I say that? I think I just said "what I am doing with the electricity I paid for is my own business." I didn't say that the power companies can not restrict how much power to provide or how much money to charge for. I even provided a real world example.

    I mean, if there's some problem with providing a huge amount of power for a certain location, of course it's fine to set a limit on how much power they provide (actually such limit is already there for most household electricity). There's also pricing schemes based on your usage, it's already a common practice. I have no problem with that. It's not surprising that most huge "mining" operations are in locations where electricity is cheap for good reasons.

    However, if it's within the rules, who to say what's "good" or what's "not good"? You might think something is not efficient or bad, but as long as it's not against the law, it's bad to try to restrict it, because it could restrict innovations.

    If you want to make a law to restrict it, fine, but you'll have to go through the proper procedure, which was brilliantly designed so that no one can restrict something simply because they don't like it.
     
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  11. Bludd

    Bludd Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall
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    It's still a question of scale: if you have a little mining operation at home, there's no problem. Waste away for all I care, though I wish you didn't. You should pay taxes, though.
    If you have a multi megawatt coin factory, you should need approval before being allowed to do it. You should register as a company and you should pay taxes.
     
  12. pcchen

    pcchen Moderator
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    Sure, taxing is fine, although most private operations, AFAIK, are probably not large enough to be taxed.
    It's actually not that difficult to tax mining operations though. Most exchanges now require registering with real world identity and when they pay you (to your bank account) the government will get the record. So they definitely know how much you made.

    For large operations, again it should be no different from any other kind of factories. I know some people who are doing large mining operations in industrial area, using industrial electricity set ups. They need to have a proper registration to get the paperwork done.
     
  13. MfA

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    That goes against what you said in the first place, "what I am doing with the electricity I paid for is my own business.". Which was a moral argument, a silly moral argument. In a free market, power companies could have you sign a contract to let them audit how you use it, much like the software industry does. There is nothing wrong with that from a libertarian point of view. If government decides to put in a restriction it also obviously stops being your business.

    It's your business if they let it be your business, don't like it ... generate your own power.

    Industrial cryptomining is not like ordinary industry or even datacenters. Cryptomining operations deploy far faster and pull up stakes far faster (or simply become unprofitable and shut down). Expanding your distribution grid or production for a bunch of useless cryptominers is super risky because of that. Risk costs money, either the cryptominers pay that money or everyone else does. That's just one of the costs cryptominers push on everyone else. A real mine creates cheaper consumer goods for all, a cryptomining operation creates more misery for most.
     
    #53 MfA, Mar 23, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
  14. Davros

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    In the u.k a lot of student accommodation has the utility bills included in the rent
    so it would be economical to rent one and fill it with pc's running 24/7
     
  15. Bludd

    Bludd Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall
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    Until the building circuits fry because of all the kW PSU you need.
     
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  16. 3dilettante

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    I suppose this depends on the jurisdiction or tax policies of the levels of government involved.
    In terms of income tax, any income is income, though if a person's income in total is small enough they may be exempted. Otherwise, one other other possibility is that mining is a hobby rather than a business--which is a more complex determination that might basically mean it's a small pursuit that doesn't provide a net profit. At that point, however, I'm not sure many would be mining.

    I suppose this also may depend on jurisdiction, but for the US it would be all exchanges that give the option to convert to official currency, per laws focused on things like money laundering and national security.
    However, conversion to cash is not the only taxable event for the IRS, which has tripped up a few miners already. Just moving coins between exchanges or converting them to other coins can invite scrutiny since they are transfers between parties with one side or the other seeing a change in the value of one item or the other over time. It might be harder to track down than transactions into a normal bank account, but that's not comforting if the relevant authorities catch wind of it. The less obfuscated blockchains then make the full history of tax evasion well-documented. I'm not even sure if the act of mining a coin wouldn't count as a sort of income akin to the accounting of what an actual mine might have to do. The payment from taking part in a mining pool would presumably count as income.

    Although in this case I'm not sure there's many places where electricity isn't handled as a utility rather than free enterprise. That it's generally considered a common good is part of the reaction against mining, and referencing measures of utility based on social good hints at it as well.
    In that regard, utilities are more constrained on what they can do to discriminate besides usage patterns and demand. More complicated would be where that intersects with regulations, subsidies, and zoning. Those could target mining more directly, or have provisions that could make someone be reclassified or forced to stop.

    Depending on the type of mine, it could generate a few decades of output and then a few thousand years of environmental degradation and mitigation costs. In that regard, a cryptominer might win out.
     
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