I finally did a thing where I took one of my fedi hot takes and made it into a proper blogpost:

I hope to do it more often.

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@rysiek first of all the primary purpose of mining is not to mint coins, so your point is moot

@rysiek I don't really follow honestly. The way I see it;

For the running out part; In case of bitcoin, yeah, some day they may all be lost and then what. But in case of Ethereum, I don't think there's a maximum amount of them, so even if some get lost, new ones come into existence.

For the "they're lost so it's wasted energy" part; Mining isn't about creating coins, it's about securing transactions. The energy needed to secure a new block in a POW system depends on the computer power in the network for the hashing, not on total coins. For storage it depends on the total amount of transactions, also not on total coins. Regardless of whether coins are lost or not, the transaction still happened, so should remain recorded.

One could wonder how useful/wasteful it is to store each transaction forever ofc. But I don't think that has really anything to do with lost coins, more with how relevant keeping past transactions are in general.

@ilja "the purpose of a system is what it does", as a wise old man once said.

Bitcoin uses energy to mint cryptoassets.

There is, in fact, a specific amount of energy that can be said was used to mint each BTC ever minted, as we have info on exact time and date it got minted, *and* a record of the historical hash rate.

That's one of the many ways to slice this cake, of course, but it is still a valid one.

@rysiek so crypto-wallets will go the same way as facebook: More profiles for the dead that ones that are alive.

@ArneBab @rysiek Some time ago I recall reading several stories about people losing bitcoin wallets ( the passwords or the data) that now could be valued in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

@ghostdancer @rysiek Wasn’t there someone who tried to recover a thrown away hard drive because it had millions in bitcoin on it?

@ArneBab If you are lucky with the password, you can hit a jackpot. @rysiek

@rysiek @ghostdancer Ah, I saw that that was from 2021 and thought it could not be the same — but reading the article it looks like he’s been trying to get permission for years …

@rysiek They forgot the core requirement of distributed systems: Getting rid of things.

It’s one of the things that Freenet got right from the beginning: What’s not accessed disappears (and yields its resources to things that are used).

@rysiek The value has not disappeared. It has been distributed to the remaining accessible bitcoin. Much like how printing dollars doesn’t create value, it simply reduces the value of every existing dollar.

@mike that's one way of looking at it.

But dollars can be printed whenever we want, and with negligible marginal cost. Minting a single bitcoin takes *loads* of energy, and the supply is capped.

At some point this system will inevitably end up in a state where most assets are lost.

@rysiek I’m not following here. The assets are lost, but the value is not. The assets are also infinitely divisible, so it does not matter if we lose 90% of them, it doesn’t really change anything when the currency is already deflationary by design.

@rysiek What do you think of bitcoin as a waste energy capture medium? You can mine bitcoin anywhere in the world. Many places in the world have an energy generation surplus that, due to limited capacity of energy storage and transmission, simply goes to waste. If a great deal of the energy used to mine bitcoin comes from such sources, it totally changes the meaning the gigawatts spent to mine bitcoin, potentially making it neutral or even good when the number grows.


> If a great deal of the energy used to mine bitcoin comes from such sources

But it doesn't. Instead, Bitcoin is keeping Kazakh coal plants running, after having kept Chinese ones running for years:

There is no world in which Bitcoin this mining makes sense. We must stop making those excuses.

@rysiek Yeah, that sucks. But, why not burn energy that would otherwise be wasted? What’s the downside of that?

@rysiek (by waste energy I mean green energy like tidal and solar that can’t be stored or transmitted)

what you wrote makes a lot of sense to me
what does not make sense to me is that the same argument appears to apply to paper money, and even more so to metallic coins. should we ban them because they cost energy (and materials) to produce, and the amount of them that gets irretrievably lost grows over time?
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