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    I think the argumentation in your section on morality is rather lacking. I would suggest that there is absolutely a moral dimension to energy consumption, and the most obvious reason for it is the finite carbon budget (for any given heating level) and the rising potential of deadly effects of the changing climate on an ever increasing proportion of the population. Air pollution is another obvious consideration. There are other aspects to it too. “This is too hard to consider for me as an individual” is not the same as “there is nothing immoral to it”. I invite you to consider this issue more seriously (and not necessarily in the narrow context of Bitcoin).

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      I completely agree. The author engages in textbook what-about-ism in the article:

      if this were indeed a concern then before we complain about PoW over our cloud and factory-powered Twitter on our factory-produced laptop (or factory-produced phone), we may want to re-evaluate our relationship with all of modern life.

      And in the twitter feed:

      If they cared about that they’d go #vegan or do any number of other things.

      Basically no one can enact a philosophy to the greatest extent theoretically possible. Participating in society does not invalidate one’s criticism of it. This argument is essentially equivalent to criticizing congresswomen (whose job it is to seek a more perfect union) for “complaining” about the country (apologies the for US-centered argument).

      These posts, tweets, and responses seem to be the product of someone lashing out in response to criticism, veiled in big words. I do appreciate the politeness which in most similar conversations in the bitcoin community is severely lacking.

      Also

      The impetus to defend Bitcoin’s use of energy itself is unjustified and needs to be first justified. Humoring you though, let’s suppose miraculously someone came up with a legitimate justification for questioning Bitcoin’s use of energy in particular (as opposed to what, PoS?).

      I take this to mean that even questioning bitcoin is reprehensible and invalidating. That is so ridiculous. First, actions aren’t “innocent until proven guilty” in moral analysis. The motivations and effects of an action such as participation in the bitcoin network can be evaluated, opinions will differ, and consensus will generally decide on morality. Second, bitcoin has clear, massive externalities of energy use and e-waste.

      Finally,

      It is like saying there is nothing immoral about using aluminum. Aluminum is neutral. What you decide to do with it on the other hand may be good or bad, and is on you, but the aluminum itself is not at fault.

      Aluminum itself is neutral, yes. What you use it for may be good or bad, yes. But, the context in which you source and use it is critical to moral evaluation as well. If you are sourcing aluminum from a slave-run mine in South America, your actions are immoral. If you are using aluminum frivolously when people need it for, let’s say, medical devices, your actions are immoral. Analysis in isolation is almost always flawed. That’s where the analogy to energy consumption becomes relevant.

      Overall, this author treats bitcoin as an inevitable part of society by creating a false dichotomy of PoW vs PoS, when in fact another option is using legislation to ban cryptocurrency for most of its common uses and protecting people by informing them of the risks of cryptocurrencies. The author cites logical fallacies to defend their stance, but we all do that sometimes - it’s invalidating to an argument, but not to a person.

      However, they ignore details which don’t fit with their narrative, and respond with questions of the validity of their critics rather than of their critics’ arguments, which convinces me that they hold this argument in bad faith which is not what lobste.rs is about.

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        I don’t think he’s even arguing in bad faith (ie knowingly). He’s just more interested in being right than in examining his assumptions, and likely he can’t see it.

        This sort of misguided hyper-rationalism based on false premises is far too common in the tech industry. Kind of ironic of course, given that we’re supposed to be professionals at working with logic, but this is a very long tradition in computing, going all the way back to von Neumann.

        I haven’t found a way to get anyone to question their assumptions (and this thread was another failed attempt). People remain stuck unless they somehow acquire enough open-mindedness on their own.

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          You’re probably right. I always have hope on Lobste.rs, because of good experiences I’ve had here previously both changing people’s minds and having my opinion challenged and changed (far more commonly the latter :) ).

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            I find both of your comments condescending and suffering from exactly what you accuse me to be suffering from: focusing on “being right”, not examining your assumptions, and suffering from closed mindedness.

            But accusing you of these things (going out on a limb here) is not going to convince you of that. What will convince me, however, is your taking what I’ve written in the post, and responding to it rationally. I’ve been a programmer most of my life, I’m pretty good at thinking logically. Try me. You can’t hope to convince anyone of your point of view if you ignore what they’ve said.

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          If anyone engages in bad faith, it is a person who chooses to ignore the logical arguments being made and respond with a straw man. My conscience on this matter is entirely clean. It is no problem to me if you choose to believe propaganda and do not want to engage with the substance of the post.

          Ban cryptocurrencies. Ban books. Ban alcohol. People have banned all kinds of things because they bought into propaganda. They’ve even started wars. Pat yourself on the back. I will sit here and be amazed at how easily you are manipulated, and one day, perhaps a few decades later, you’ll realize the importance of understanding an argument instead of strawmanning it to push your agenda.

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          I would suggest that there is absolutely a moral dimension to energy consumption, and the most obvious reason for it is the finite carbon budget (for any given heating level) and the rising potential of deadly effects of the changing climate on an ever increasing proportion of the population.

          That was addressed by this sentence:

          The only ethical question is /how/ we obtain and consume that energy, and that is a question that has absolutely nothing to do with Bitcoin or PoW.

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            It’s rather confusing, because you start out with “there is absolutely nothing immoral about consuming energy” but then go on to say that there is in fact a moral question there.

            I also don’t understand how the question you suggest is irrelevant to Bitcoin or PoW. I mean, if we’re just talking about Bitcoin as a theoretical construct, that’s fine. But in making a decision to participate in a scheme which requires vast amounts of energy by design, and operates in a world where a large proportion of the energy is generated from fossil fuels (which you seem to agree is a moral problem), surely there is a moral dimension?

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              It’s rather confusing, because you start out with “there is absolutely nothing immoral about consuming energy” but then go on to say that there is in fact a moral question there.

              It is like saying there is nothing immoral about using aluminum. Aluminum is neutral. What you decide to do with it on the other hand may be good or bad, and is on you, but the aluminum itself is not at fault.

              But in making a decision to participate in a scheme which requires vast amounts of energy by design, and operates in a world where a large proportion of the energy is generated from fossil fuels (which you seem to agree is a moral problem), surely there is a moral dimension?

              A dimension that applies equally to everything and in which Bitcoin is not at all special. Everything requires energy. Driving to the store. Driving to the bank. Raising chickens. Building a house. And yet we do not see massive media campaigns against these entities or activities for their energy usage. That is because the media campaigns against Bitcoin are purely politically motivated, and so is their reasoning.

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                I think your reasoning here is rather muddled. Neither “Everything requires energy” nor “No media campaigns against X” implies “There is no moral problem with participating in energy use of Bitcoin”.

                It would be better to argue (for example) that the value Bitcoin provides to the society clearly justifies the chunk of the dwindling carbon budget it’s going to eat up.

                But anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that energy use choices have a moral aspect; I don’t care about Bitcoin specifically, so perhaps we don’t need to go any further down this rabbit hole.

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                  The impetus to defend Bitcoin’s use of energy itself is unjustified and needs to be first justified. Humoring you though, let’s suppose miraculously someone came up with a legitimate justification for questioning Bitcoin’s use of energy in particular (as opposed to what, PoS?). That’s what the other half of the post is about, showing that PoW does things that PoS cannot.

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                    I think your first sentence shows that you haven’t taken the time to understand the concept of a finite carbon budget, or where the current system of energy production and consumption is taking us. I encourage you to learn more about that; it is serious and affects everybody. André Staltz gave a good talk about it recently: https://mixitconf.org/2019/the-internet-in-2030

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                      Up until this point I haven’t downvoted any of your comments, but I did downvote this reply as off-topic since you basically ignored everything I said.

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                  It is like saying there is nothing immoral about using aluminum. Aluminum is neutral. What you decide to do with it on the other hand may be good or bad, and is on you, but the aluminum itself is not at fault.

                  There is nothing immoral about using aluminum, but there is a cost to doing so. And the end-user of the aluminum is not the only one who pays that cost. “I don’t care about the costs my actions have on other people” seems like a pretty good definition of “immoral”.

                  Bitcoin, while an interesting experiment, to me seems basically useless except for making a few people very rich, and as an ironic demonstration of what pure capitalism looks like. Personally I don’t feel the need to bring morality into it one way or another, but I can definitely look back on the whole cryptocurrency THING and conclude that its benefits weren’t/aren’t worth the cost.

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            Bitcoin holders would rather hurt the environment than not sell for more USD to people who buy after them.

            Bitcoin is nothing more than a pyramid scheme at the moment, and better technologies have already taken its place. For example, in the past two years most contractors have asked for payment in ETH when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

            Its only purpose is buying it now at a price and hoping that someone will pay more in the future. This won’t happen in the long term. It’s like putting money into MySpace when it was already going out of business, and somehow also fucking up the environment in addition. Many of the Bitcoin social media groups are heavily censored in order for people like me to not speak out, and a big percentage of the people interested in cryptocurrencies and smart contract platforms are starting to resent the Bitcoin platform and its supporters. We resent its supporters because they’re more preoccupied of memes than of removing censorship, moving to an environmentally-friendly consensus mechanism, making it fucking usable for payments, and so on.

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              It’s sad how posts on cryptocurrencies are being voted off-topic under the cryptocurrencies tag.

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                I considered using off-topic, but I used spam instead. I think you have feelings about this topic and you may have forgotten for a moment that not every topic that should be discussed should be discussed here on lobste.rs.

                Anyway, at least some of the downvotes probably come from ordinary disagreement with striking sentence in your piece:

                So far as I am aware, there is absolutely nothing immoral about consuming energy.

                Maybe you’re saying “in prinicple”, or “in general”? (…Hm, then why is that word ‘absolutely’ in there?)

                Let’s suppose you mean “in general”. Sure. There’s nothing wrong with lighting a campfire. But, every event occurs at some time and place. It is wrong to light a campfire inside a house while someone is sleeping in it. It is wrong to light a campfire if you are too close in time and space to a funeral or a wedding.

                And it is commonly believed that it is wrong to consume energy unnecessarily in 2019 on earth. There is an energy-related event going on globally.

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                  The very first commenter here said the same thing, to which I’ve already given a reply, and the reply itself is a quote from the OP.