Jump to content

Crypto-cancer fade out end of civilization for Fermi paradox?


Duda Jarek
 Share

Recommended Posts

Imagine civilization gets a positive feedback mechanism for wasting resources, like cryptocurrencies: “one gets $100 banknote if burning $99 worth resources”, leading to exponential growth of waste at individual gains.

We can observe exponential growth of their energy consumption, worsening shortages of electronics, simultaneously these cult-like societies are growing in power/influence, can buy politicians (e.g. El Salvador) … further taking control of chip manufacturers and power plants, in a few years growing to 50%, 90%, 99% of world energy production?

Can such positive feedback be always balanced at a reasonable level, instead of approaching 100% of resources of civilization? In other words: could it lead to fading out end of civilization – as a way for “It is the nature of intelligent life to destroy itself” explanation of Fermi paradox? How frequent could it be? What are the chances for our civilization?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not really a waste if that is what people value. Higly probable there will be a variety of choices in the future though. No single currency can offer all options.

There are less computationally demanding versions too.

ie. Proof of Stake vs Bitcoin's Proof of Work

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bitcoin energy consumption below from https://cbeci.org/, nearly exactly 2x growth per year - in 6 years should grow for 1% to ~60% of world energy production.

Sure, I believe that for some calculating hashes might be the highest value of life, but if indeed approaching 100% of civilization resources, it might mean its end (?)

Are there strong enough mechanisms to balance this positive feedback on some reasonable level? If not, how strong scenario is it for Fermi paradox?

 

7nH8wx6.png
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Duda Jarek said:

Bitcoin energy consumption below from https://cbeci.org/, nearly exactly 2x growth per year - in 6 years should grow for 1% to ~60% of world energy production.

Why would we expect exponential growth to continue? Sounds like a mistake in extrapolation. Much more likely is logistic growth.

 

sustainable.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is strong positive feedback: the higher the price, the more people are focused, it becomes profitable to mine on a growing percentage of electronics, chip manufacturers have growing incentive to switch to miner production, the higher influence this society has ...

Sure it is bounded by 100% of world energy production - so definitely in 7 years it will have to slow down, at most saturating to 100%.

But is 100% of world resources for cryptominig a reasonable level?

If not, on which lower level it could stabilize itself? Beside 100% boundary, what are other mechanisms to slow down such exponential growth?

From perspective of Fermi paradox, how universal is such resistance - what percentage of civilizations could stop all such positive feedback mechanisms before being reaching self-destruction?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think so cryptocurrency mining poses any serious risk for human existence.

At the beginning of BTC mining was done entirely by CPU. To speed it up and earn more and faster, GFX card code was created. Later it was replaced/extended by specialized mining devices e.g. antminer (unit cost $10k-20k!). This shows progress, evolution, industrialization, professionalisation of miners with time and "depths" of their pockets.

The higher bills for electricity cryptocurrency miners will have to pay, the more likely they will invest in their own private solar panels grids (or other low cost power plants) to reduce costs. *)

Natural route of evolution of this technology would be creation of satellites which would be placed on orbit and get much more energy directly from the Sun.

e.g. put programmable**) antminer (or equivalent) in SpaceX satellites and offer Internet for free to the all people.

*) If I would be cryptocurrency miner, I would get cheap electricity at night when cost is the lowest or even negative price i.e. power plants pay to get their electricity at night.

**) It could be used to any heavy computation not just cryptocurrency mining.

Edited by Sensei
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There can only be something like 21 million bitcoins.
Of those nearly all (about 18 million)  have been "minted".
So the idea that people will continue to spend additional resources after they are all made just shows a total failure to understand the way things work.

Not much point continuing until the OP learns what he's talking about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Let me remind that this thread is not supposed to be about bitcoin, but about Fermi paradox:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox#It_is_the_nature_of_intelligent_life_to_destroy_itself

Bitcoin was only example of such positive feedback mechanism leading to exponential growth - such that if continuing last 6 year trend to next 6 years, would reach half of world energy production, what some might find disturbing.

There are already thousands of cryptocurrencies, and it is not that humans have to be smarter or more reasonable than such hypothetical civilizations, but we are not talking about a few years, but rather thousands.

So on what percentage of world energy production cryptocurrencies should finally stabilize at - in a decade, century ... ?

What other exponential growing positive feedback mechanisms of using resources on otherwise meaningless activities like hashing could you think of?

2 hours ago, Sensei said:

specialized mining devices

Chip manufacturers, due to growing financial incentives, decide to produce bitcoin miners instead of standard electronics - couldn't it lead e.g. to shortages of electronics?

Quote

Natural route of evolution of this technology would be creation of satellites which would be placed on orbit and get much more energy directly from the Sun.

Interesting, but how would it prevent from cryptomining simultaneously also in other places?

Or couldn't such supercomputer search e.g. for cure for cancer etc. instead of calculating hashes?

Edited by Duda Jarek
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Duda Jarek said:

Let me remind that this thread is not supposed to be about bitcoin, but about Fermi paradox:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox#It_is_the_nature_of_intelligent_life_to_destroy_itself

Bitcoin was only example of such positive feedback mechanism leading to exponential growth - such that if continuing last 6 year trend to next 6 years, would reach half of world energy production, what some might find disturbing.

There are already thousands of cryptocurrencies, and it is not that humans have to be smarter or more reasonable than such hypothetical civilizations, but we are not talking about a few years, but rather thousands.

So on what percentage of world energy production cryptocurrencies should finally stabilize at - in a decade, century ... ?

What other exponential growing positive feedback mechanisms of using resources on otherwise meaningless activities like hashing could you think of?

Chip manufacturers, due to growing financial incentives, decide to produce bitcoin miners instead of standard electronics - couldn't it lead e.g. to shortages of electronics?

Interesting, but how would it prevent from cryptomining simultaneously also in other places?

Or couldn't such supercomputer search e.g. for cure for cancer etc. instead of calculating hashes?

I don't believe there are any simple exponential processes that are relevant to this issue. Almost everything proves to be self-limiting in some way, eventually.

(And actually, I've never understood the Fermi paradox. It seems to me that, given that in space travel all the numbers are awful, any intelligent race of aliens would work out that embarking on interstellar travel at all is a pointless exercise, and consequently signalling to the void is equally pointless.)  

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regarding Fermi paradox, naive estimations suggest that statistically lots of civilizations should develop in the Universe ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation , maybe overestimated), the Universe has ~13.8 billion years, so older civilizations should differ by millions, thousands of years - be super advances ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale ) ...

But we don't see any, suggesting e.g. that civilizations finally die - it would be valuable to try to understand the reasons, e.g. to try to prevent such destiny for ours if possible (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doomsday_Clock )

 

Returning to cryptocurrencies example, they have very strong positive feedback mechanisms - the higher the price:

Hence we can observe very clear 2x per year exponential growth of energy consumption, it is capped by 100% of world energy production - will at most saturate there for cryptocurrencies.

What lower percentage of world energy production could they stabilize at? What could balance such strong positive feedback?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Duda Jarek said:

Regarding Fermi paradox, naive estimations suggest that statistically lots of civilizations should develop in the Universe ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation , maybe overestimated), the Universe has ~13.8 billion years, so older civilizations should differ by millions, thousands of years - be super advances ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale ) ...

But we don't see any, suggesting e.g. that civilizations finally die - it would be valuable to try to understand the reasons, e.g. to try to prevent such destiny for ours if possible (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doomsday_Clock )

 

I would rather take the lesson from Calhoun's experiment:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_sink

Edited by Sensei
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Exactly - pathological mechanisms can develop when society no longer needs to focus on survival - perfect connection, thanks!

Thousands, hundreds of years ago most of society had to focus on crucial activities like food production.

With efficiency growth, now nearly nobody cares about food producers minorities, leaving place for growth of various activities with questionable effects for well being, survival of our civilization.

Crypto is the next level - literally giving a person $100 banknote for burning $99 worth of resources - leading to exponentially growing movement of resource burning ... like if Calhoune mouses start burning provided food.

How long can a civilization survive when reaching such higher level Calhoune-type mechanism?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, most currencies are set up that so issuer makes a profit. Pennies and nickles are minted at a loss though so not universally true. Obviously you could use something like gold but then you simply have all the same issues in different forms to worry about.

I'm not worried about crypto myself. We can always just switch to a fresh currency or drop the historical transaction data.

Edited by Endy0816
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Duda Jarek

I think you misinterpreted my previous statement.

What I meant is "I would rather take the lesson from Calhoun's experiment..." + "...because it is the most plausible source of Fermi paradox, rather than your cryptocurrency mining"...

Existence of cryptocurrency mining in such form as now, is only possible in societies where money (and gaining wealth) is the main motor of people's activity.

In societies where people share everything for free, existence of cryptocurrency mining, fiduciary currency, banking systems, economical crisises, hungry and poorness etc. is not possible (has no sense).

There is/was old crowd distributed computing project S.E.T.I. @ home 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_for_extraterrestrial_intelligence

i.e. "give us your computer power for free when machine is idle, and we will use that power to search for extraterrestrial intelligence (or whatever else is needed in alternative projects)". And guess what? People were not that keen on it (at media publicity), as they are now on cryptocurrency mining...

There was no immediate money reward for it (therefore people reluctance). Even if they participate in serious and/or useful scientific project offering what they can for goodness of the entire humankind.

1 hour ago, Duda Jarek said:

Exactly - pathological mechanisms can develop when society no longer needs to focus on survival - perfect connection, thanks!

In the Calhoun's experiment mice had free and unlimited source of food, so they (without being aware of what they are doing) did nothing but have sex and children, several generations per season ("sky is the limit" as some says). Which caused quick overcrowding of the limited area where they were living. Higher level organisms living too closely are extremely stressed (increased amount of wrong/inappropriate hormones during pregnancy of mothers resulted in homosexuality of offspring etc.), agressive, misbehaving etc.

Current world is extremely focused on survival! If 70% of US average citizens have less than $1000 savings, and ongoing bills to pay, over and over again, they are just two weeks of being unemployed to bankruptcy or other financial problems.. I imagine such modern people are much more extremely stressed by such ongoing life, than ancient/medieval peasant thousand year ago (which could be stressed by survival of cold winter and having to hunt at winter if had shortage of gathered food)..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

24 minutes ago, John Cuthber said:

No, it is not.

What do you mean? People buy hardware and use energy just to get money (for otherwise meaningless activity) ... until reaching profitability level, like burning $99 worth resources to get $100 banknote.

 

In contrast, mining other resources like gold is not otherwise meaningless ( https://www.mecmining.com.au/top-5-uses-of-gold-one-of-the-worlds-most-coveted-metals/ ).

But most importantly it is limited - in contrast to unlimited number of cryptocurrencies they can create, it is impossible to maintain exponential growth of gold mining ... while cryptocurrencies can use literally all available resources, growing exponentially until saturating on 100% of world energy production cap.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Duda Jarek said:

What do you mean? People buy hardware and use energy just to get money (for otherwise meaningless activity) ... until reaching profitability level, like burning $99 worth resources to get $100 banknote.

 

In contrast, mining other resources like gold is not otherwise meaningless ( https://www.mecmining.com.au/top-5-uses-of-gold-one-of-the-worlds-most-coveted-metals/ ).

But most importantly it is limited - in contrast to unlimited number of cryptocurrencies they can create, it is impossible to maintain exponential growth of gold mining ... while cryptocurrencies can use literally all available resources, growing exponentially until saturating on 100% of world energy production cap.

Bitcoin is just the latest IT fad, followed by a handful of nerdy and greedy people. It already looks doomed, because of its absurd energy consumption, cf. the recent reverse ferret by Elon Musk (now that he has made a tidy profit, no doubt). If Bitcoin doesn't fix this, it will get shut down. By governments. 

Human society has lots of ways of preventing runaway exponentials. Population growth is another. All the indications are it will stabilise, because as people get more prosperous they delay having children and want to focus more attention on a small number of them. More and more countries are now worrying about ageing or even falling populations, China included.

Climate change and pollution are far more pressing concerns than bloody bitcoin*.

 

* Once memorably described by Warren Buffet as "rat poison, squared".  

Edited by exchemist
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, exchemist said:

Population growth is another.

Population growth seems prevented by just children survivability, improved live quality - see e.g. some Hans Rosling talks like

 

19 minutes ago, exchemist said:

Climate change and pollution are far more pressing concerns than bloody bitcoin

Exponentially growing additional waste makes fight with climate change even more hopeless ... 1 individual can easily exceed a million times required consumption here - it doesn't matter that 99% of population care and save resources, if 0.001-th percentile can saturate close to 100% of world resource usage.

Edited by Duda Jarek
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Duda Jarek

Counter examples that it will stop automatically at 11 B:

- Japan has a population density equivalent to 50 billion people in the world. They continued reproducing when national food production reached 100%. Now they import ~60% of all food from abroad.

https://www.google.com/search?q=japan+food+shortages

"Japan is the world's second biggest economy but it struggles to produce enough food.

The government says only 39% of the food the Japanese need is grown in Japan.

In contrast Britain produces 70% of the food its population needs and France more than 120%."

" Japan’s food self-sufficiency ratio on calories basis was 79 per cent in 1960 and had declined continuously reaching 39 per cent in 2015.[6]"

 

Edited by Sensei
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many countries have low fertility problem of decreasing (TFR<2.1) and aging population ... beside developing countries - which will reduce fertility when most children start surviving to become an adult, also with education.

Sure food production might become a huge problem due to climate change ... another huge problem is drinking water e.g. https://www.unicef.org/stories/water-and-climate-change-10-things-you-should-know

 

ps. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_fertility_rate

2880px-Total_Fertility_Rate_Map_by_Count

 

https://www.nature.com/articles/nature08230 :

Figure-S4-Cross-sectional-relationship-b

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you’re going to posit a civilization that is on the cusp of being technologically capable of interstellar travel, it seems reasonable to assume they are capable of solving solvable problems like global warming and population, which are more political in nature (i.e. it’s about the will to solve the problem, not the means)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The general issue is that we don't have "mind of a civilization wanting the best for it" ... but rather individuals pursuing individual gains.

E.g. if getting opportunity to get $100 banknote by burning $99 worth resources (e.g. through calculating hashes), we can see individuals massively do it - for $1 individual profit, no matter it means $99 resource loss for civilization.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Duda Jarek said:

Population growth seems prevented by just children survivability, improved live quality - see e.g. some Hans Rosling talks like

 

Exponentially growing additional waste makes fight with climate change even more hopeless ... 1 individual can easily exceed a million times required consumption here - it doesn't matter that 99% of population care and save resources, if 0.001-th percentile can saturate close to 100% of world resource usage.

Yes, I've got Roslin's book.

What you say is trivially true, if your 0.001th percentile does indeed generate waste exponentially. But that nicely illustrates how naive (a polite way of saying "wrong") it is to model just about anything on the basis of a pure exponential - a point Roslin makes repeatedly. Nothing works like that. In the case of resource consumption, it is obvious that as a resource becomes more scarce, it becomes more costly and the incentive to substitute it with something else - or to stop the activity entirely- grows. So very quickly you get a departure from exponential behaviour. In the case of fossil fuel consumption, we do not see anything like exponential growth. We are still seeing growth, true, but it is linear or plateauing. 

So please put aside these exponential extrapolations. They almost invariably give wrong predictions. Just about their only use is to show people what would happen if nothing were done to prevent a runaway exponential.    

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sure, maintaining Bitcoin's last 6 year 2x growth/year for the next 6 years is hopefully impossible (but looks like many speculators believe it will happen).

But there are thousands of cryptocurrencies, also "evolving" to consume succeeding resources (e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/may/26/new-cryptocurrency-chia-blamed-for-hard-drive-shortages ) ...

So what percentage of world resources could be stable attractor for crypto consumption - somehow balancing observed pursue for individual gains? Balancing with what?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Duda Jarek said:

The general issue is that we don't have "mind of a civilization wanting the best for it" ... but rather individuals pursuing individual gains.

Well said. It is the main problem of capitalism..

Quote

E.g. if getting opportunity to get $100 banknote by burning $99 worth resources (e.g. through calculating hashes), we can see individuals massively do it - for $1 individual profit, no matter it means $99 resource loss for civilization.

Please, please, stop using these made-up by you numbers.. f.e. costs of mining 1 BTC is $5000-$8500 (the other source says about average $4160/BTC) *)

The more advanced technology they use for mining i.e. specialised mining devices like antminer, the lower cost. If they would also invest in private solar panels grid **) and/or wind turbines the issue of too much electricity usage would be non-existing..

*) Search engine keywords "BTC cost of mining".

**) which is marginal in comparison with the price of antminer..  $250-300 per 1.4 m^2 solar panel vs $10k for antminer.. no-brainer..

Edited by Sensei
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.