Avid bitcoin enthusiast Jack Dorsey is officially building an open bitcoin mining system to democratize what could become the dominant currency of the Internet even as critics denounce the carbon footprint of the world's largest cryptocurrency.
"We want to make mining more distributed and efficient in every way, from buying, to set up, to maintenance, to mining," said Block's General Manager (hardware) Thomas Templeton in a tweet.
The goal is to build a system which is easily available, reliable, performant, and relatively power efficient compared to its hashrate - speed of mining.
To be sure, bitcoin mining is the process by which new bitcoins are entered into circulation; it is also the way that new transactions are confirmed by the network.
Why It Matters to Make Mining Bitcoin Easier
As bitcoin’s value has increased, and it’s become more challenging to mine without economies of scale, there have been fears that the network has become centralized on too small a group of miners.
China, a major crypto mining hub, clamped down on crypto mining activity last year.
"We’re interested because mining goes far beyond creating new bitcoin. We see it as a long-term need for a future that is fully decentralized and permissionless," he added.
"We’re incubating this investigation within Block’s hardware team and are starting to build out a core engineering team of system, asic, and software designers led by Afshin Rezayee," Templeton tweeted.
"We are interested in performance *and* open-source *and* our own elegant system integration ideas," he added.
Block is hiring a team to lead this effort.
Blockchain or crypto ledgers, operate by spreading responsibility or ownership among a group of users, who, for example, use their computing power to electronically fabricate—or “mine”—cryptocurrency, or record transactions for digital art.
Making mining more decentralized is “a long-term need for a future that is fully decentralized and permissionless,” Templeton says.
The project Could Face Opposition From Climate Activists
Bitcoin operates on a proof of work (PoW) model, where miners must compete to solve complex puzzles in order to validate transactions. The process isn’t easy: It requires a lot of energy and computer power.
Studies suggest bitcoin could push global warming beyond 2°C. Another study estimated that bitcoin mining in China alone could generate 130 million metric tons of CO2 by 2024. With more mining moving to the U.S. and other countries, however, this amount could grow even larger unless more renewable energy is used. The note was cited in a report by Columbia Climate School.
Kazakhstan, which became last year the world's second-largest centre for bitcoin mining after the United States, according to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, relies mainly on fossil fuels for electricity.
Dorsey Loves bitcoin
It's no surprise that Block wants to make bitcoin mining easier. Jack Dorsey holds bitcoin, his bio on his twitter account is simply #bitcoin. He has stated in the past that he wants to mine bitcoin himself.
The billionaire, who left his other job at Twitter in late November, believes the cryptocurrency will help change the way money moves around the world.
Block also offers the ability to buy and sell bitcoin on its Cash App app. No other currency is available.