Monday, December 23, 2013

Fighting One Alien Invasion

Bitcoin mining has become a large scale industry:

Today, all of the machines dedicated to mining Bitcoin have a computing power about 4,500 times the capacity of the United States government’s mightiest supercomputer, the IBM Sequoia, according to calculations done by Michael B. Taylor, a professor at the University of California, San Diego. The computing capacity of the Bitcoin network has grown by around 30,000 percent since the beginning of the year.

“This whole new kind of machine has come into existence in the last 12 months,” said Professor Taylor, who is studying mining hardware. In the chase for the lucky code that will unlock new Bitcoins, mining computers are also verifying and assigning unique identifying tags to each Bitcoin transaction, acting as accountants for the virtual currency world.

Of course it's just the sort of socially useless production that Krugman with his [facetious, for the IC] suggestion of fighting an imaginary alien invasion, modelled on Keynes equally facetious suggestion that the government bury wads of currency. Maybe private industry really can do this job. Or maybe the resources should just be spent on something useful.