Jesse Frederik says this near the start of the article:
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought: but what is it then, for God’s sake, this whole blockchain thing? And what’s so terribly revolutionary about it? What problem does it solve?
That’s why I wrote this article. I can tell you upfront, it’s a bizarre journey to nowhere. I’ve never seen so much incomprehensible jargon to describe so little. I’ve never seen so much bloated bombast fall so flat on closer inspection. And I’ve never seen so many people searching so hard for a problem to go with their solution.
And a mention about the potential environmental effect:
Carrying out a payment with Visa requires about 0.002 kilowatt-hours; the same payment with bitcoin uses up 906 kilowatt-hours, more than half a million times as much, and enough to power a two-person household for about three months…
And the environmental problem is only going to grow. As miners put more effort into solving the puzzles (ie, building more of those dark server caves in Alaska), the puzzles will automatically become more difficult, requiring more calculation power. It’s an endless, pointless arms race in order to facilitate the same number of transactions with more and more energy.
Near the end of the article he drops this provocative sentence:
This is the market for magic, and that market is big. Whether it’s about blockchain, big data, cloud computing, AI or other buzzwords.
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