Bitcoin’s main function is to act as a decentralised currency that allows for secure peer-to-peer transactional activities without banks’ intervention. The idea of adopting such a technology is great, but there is a problem: Huge energy consumption.
To simply maintain the proof-of-work requirement, large amounts of computer hardware use up immense volumes of energy to crack cryptographic algorithms for the purpose of immutability. The energy used to provide support for such a blockchain network is in fact greater than the electricity consumed by nations like Switzerland.
What’s worse, this is happening while the world faces a climate change problem. To avert climate change, we need to reduce carbon emissions, energy consumption and waste production. Furthermore, about 1.1 billion of the world’s population do not have access to electricity at all. In such dire situations, the excessive usage of energy for the purpose of supporting the blockchain network seems pointless.
A new idea
However, a new paper from Swiss researchers, titled “Scalable Byzantine Reliable Broadcast”,introduced a new method to run a blockchain network without excessive energy consumption.
The new algorithm basically works like a virus. When a user makes a transaction, a small group of additional users is passed information about that transaction. They then pass this information to another small group of users. The information spreads out exponentially, quickly reaching billions of users.
Then, instead of consulting a single ledger, transactions are verified by a random sample of users. If the random sample is huge enough, one can ensure that malicious hacks which disrupt the system will be unlikely enough so as to occur less than once in 13.6 billion years, approximately the age of the universe, according to the Swiss researchers.
The work has been well-received, obtaining the best paper award from the International Symposium on Distributed Computing, one of the prominent conferences in the field. Highly theoretical, the paper contains detailed mathematical proofs on how the system will work. This gives some sort of hope that the problem of excessive energy usage will be resolved. However, the approach will still need to be thoroughly tested and implemented to ensure that it does work in practice.
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Disclaimer: This article is not trading or investment advice. It is for entertainment and educational purposes only. Please do your own research before investing into any digital currency.