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Hey Blockchain, 2009 Called: It Wants Its Proof-Of-Work Back!

Hey Blockchain, 2009 Called: It Wants Its Proof-Of-Work Back!

Once upon a time, blockchain had a noble goal: decentralization. In the early days, it did just that: a worldwide community of people who, using their own equipment in their own homes, could contribute to a unique type of network by running nodes, generating blocks, and snatching control — technological, economic, even political — away from large, centralized entities such as governments, Silicon Valley mega-corporations, and ancient financial institutions whose motives were often greedy, dubious, contrary to the common good, and in some cases sinister. And in 2009, Bitcoin was born.

Bitcoin today, along with most other large blockchains using proof-of-work consensus, has largely failed to accomplish what it set out to achieve in this regard. In fact, they’ve become precisely what they were designed to avoid: functionally-centralized and inefficient havens for greed, dubious activities, and providing little benefit to society or business (although they’ve tried). This isn’t an article about what proof-of-work consensus is — there’s plenty of educational resources out there which explain that already, along with how proof-of-stake consensus, when implemented properly, avoids many of the insurmountable problems embedded in proof-of-work. Suffice to say, proof-of-work consensus ultimately favors the rich: those who are able to throw large amounts of money into high-end hardware and who can afford the large energy bills associated with running the aforementioned networks, leaving everybody else sickeningly tossed around in the turbulent and unpredictable waves of the modern crypto marketplace with no control whatsoever. As a result, massively-decentralized active participation in supporting Bitcoin and other proof-of-work chains such as Ethereum through mining has fallen into the hands of a few large groups who produce most of the blocks, and who have their own interests, rather than those which ...

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