Jump to content

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

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?

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

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?

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.

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?

Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

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

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.

Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
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
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
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

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.

"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
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

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)

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.

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.

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?

Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
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

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
×
×
• 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.