Blockchain is kind of a waste of energy.
I mean that literally: A new study by Dutch blockchain expert Alex de Vries estimates Bitcoin alone uses nearly as much electricity as Ireland, with computers around the world ceaselessly trying to mine the stuff. Bitcoin is on track to use 1.8 percent of the planet’s electricity by next year, or more than today’s entire solar energy output, estimates Grist’s Eric Holthaus. Suck it up, Planet Earth; these Dunning-Krugerrands ain’t gonna mine themselves.
But this is also at least somewhat true figuratively. A recurring theme of Matt Levine’s newsletter (sign up here) is that blockchain enthusiasts keep reinventing wheels finance invented long ago. The latest brainchild: Bitcoin money-market funds. As Matt points out, a Bitcoin money-market fund a) risks “breaking the buck (the Bitcoin) with some frequency.” And b) it is kind of redundant and pointlessly complicated to hold Bitcoin in a money-market fund when you could just … hold Bitcoin.
Right now, not too many people are even doing that, and those who do fell off the top of a cryptomountain earlier this year:
This helps explain why none of Silicon Valley’s giants can be bothered to invest much time or effort into blockchain, suggests Lionel Laurent: “Sure, big tech companies and big banks probably suffer from the innovator’s dilemma, and lean towards conservatism. But the promised crypto-revolution hasn’t materialized either.”
Bitcoin makes fools of skeptics with enough regularity to make me wary of mocking it too much (any more). Oh, why not? Let’s all laugh again at this patent Michael Regan found a few years ago, for a dog figurine to hide your Bitcoin key: