Chia is supposedly a “green” crypto currency, created by the guy who, with the purest intentions, figured out how to allow us all to download Metallica albums on the internet without the help of Napster or eMule. BitTorrent didn’t really work better than the other platforms, but exploited legal greyness by clearly separating itself from the content it enabled sharing. Likewise, as far as Chia goes, it is not the first crypto currency of its kind. Off the top of my head, I recall BurstCoin taking a similar approach.
If you believe their bullshit, Chia, like Burstcoin (and probably others), supposedly solves the global warming crisis caused by Bitcoin and other Proof-of-Work coins by introducing a concept Chia calls “proof of space and time”. (Similar algorithms called it simply Proof of Space, or Proof of Capacity)
Supposedly, they say that it is “green” because once you generate your plots, a process you go through to fill up your “unused” disk space with lottery numbers with hopes that you eventually get a “win”, the process of picking new winners doesn’t require much energy at all… because it involves, in a simplified nutshell, a process of just doing a quick binary search of the sorted hashes on your disk(s).
The problem is…. this is just as potentially wasteful as Bitcoin’s proof-of-work system! Why? The economy, stupid! The bottom line: If you create a contest with a valuable reward that increases in difficulty as more people join up, don’t be surprised when people destroy the planet trying to win it., because the difficulty of that contest will always grow to match the reward.
Both Bitcoin and Chia tie their value to market signals. Bitcoin ties it’s own value to the cost of the electricity used to “mine” it. It just so happens that Bitcoin is worth a lot therefore is equally expensive to mine… but also the people who are mining bitcoin expect it to be worth more someday and are willing to mine it at a loss (hoping for future profits). Bitcoin is also designed, however, to become more “green” over time.. as nobody would be willing to spend an entire city’s worth of electrical bills just to acquire meager transaction fees.
Chia, also ties its value to the cost of “farming” it. If Chia suddenly finds itself worth a lot on a market somewhere (as has happened recently), “farmers” will rush to farm as much of it as possible until the cost of farming it is roughly equal to the market value. If the cost of farming it is less than market value, fewer people will decide to farm it. Both Bitcoin and Chia directly correlate their wastefulness with market demand via a “difficulty” equation that gets more difficult as demand increases, supposedly balancing demand to mine/farm with price/cost. So ultimately, Chia farmers and Bitcoin miners should never expect to get more out of their output than they input.
With this in mind, Bitcoin and Chia, are potentially equally wasteful, and Chia is arguably more wasteful due to the fact that the contest it asks “farmers” to win involves more than just electricity generation… and the only reason Chia isn’t currently as wasteful as Bitcoin, is because nobody really wants to own Chia.
As a beginner Chia farmer, I watched as my farm, which originally predicted a win every 3 months, dwindled in prospects… and the “difficulty” level (the equation that balances the computing power of the hive) has increased from 7 to 700 as of this writing. Every day my prospects of getting a win become less and less… while I frantically rush to fill up my 80TB array with garbage using every system I can get my hands on. Right now I’ve thrown 32+16+8+6+4+2 cores at it. so thats…. 62 cores… running full blast all day and night. The difficulty is increasing faster than I can buy hard drives and burn out m.2 SSDs to generate plots.
As long as Chia is valued high in the market, “farmers” will continue to buy out all the m.2 sticks they can find anywhere and run them into the ground generating “plots” until they go up in smoke and need to be replaced… which will drive up the cost of large hard drives and fast m.2 sticks… etc. etc. etc. Just like Bitcoin, Chia will tie itself to the amount of destruction “farmers” are willing to impose on the environment in order to acquire it… it will simply come in a slightly different form than Bitcoin. Really what the world needs to solve the Crypto energy crisis, is a proof-of-work coin that can somehow guarantee that it was created using a “green” technology… like maybe a mechanical cypher tied to a windmill, a cypher tied to nature in such a way that no computer’s limited discreet mathematical capabilities can reasonably generate crypto keys…. I dunno… measure flaws in diamonds, count snowflakes with specific shapes, use monkeys or an ant-farm contest, force rats to race a maze towards some cheese…. just something that could never be generated by any other means. Computers are great at discreet math, but they are terrible at indiscreet math, worse at indiscreet area calculations, and abysmal at indiscreet volumetric calculations (e.g. wind tunnel physics simulations) … maybe there’s something there… I don’t have the answers… nobody does. Until someone invents something totally new, Chia will be more of the same.
And even though the cost of “farming” your existing plots is relatively trivial, you’re still going to compete with everyone in the world to generate more plots than the next guy… and this process is actually CPU limited (I am currently running 32-cores on a Threadripper 2990WX chip to the max) … and in a nutshell it is essentially no better than a CPU-bound proof-of-work system!
In many ways it is even worse, because, now, not only do I need to prove that I did the “work” to generate the plots, but now I also have to prove that I dumped cash into buying hard disks on Amazon or NewEgg or Microcenter to store all the plots that I generated…. wouldn’t it be just simpler to cut out all the extra storage and simply prove the “work” part of it? That’s what “proof of work” is…. simpler, and arguably more green. Maybe an argument could be made that as farm sizes increase, the desire to add more plots via “plotting” should decrease as the chance of winning increases more slowly as farming becomes more widespread…. but the opposite argument could also be made that as farm sizes increase, there will be more and more pressure to fill up warehouses and warehouses with nothing but hard disks.
If that isn’t enough to get you to stop your obsession with plotting… Chia’s motivations as a company are potentially toxic to you as a farmer. IMO, Chia is really just another pump-and-dump scheme, and the motivations of its creator(s) are spelled out in plain view on their own website. The creators opted to “pre-farm” a bunch of Chia, and they intend to use this “strategic reserve” to “reduce volatility”… in other words… if you dumbasses drive up the price of Chia on a market somewhere, the devs are simply going to drive the price down by selling their Chia on the market… keeping YOU poor, and making them rich. This plotting/farming craze has put them in the spotlight and now they’re out there converting your NewEgg purchases into Lambos and Yachts…. In the meantime, here I am burning out multiple m.2 SSDs and trying to waste 80TB of hard disk space as quickly as possible before there’s no chance in hell that even my 80TB will give me a single win in a whole year… I highly doubt I will ever make back the $800 or so I spent on newer, faster m.2 sticks and extra large hard drives this week alone.
Simply put, if someone tries to sell you a money printing machine, don’t buy it. Because anyone who owns a money-printing machine, would never, in a million years, sell it to YOU. They’d simply print the money for themselves.