FOCUS: Concerns over crypto

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain, the technology used to create different coins, was first tested in 1983 by American cryptographer David Chaum. It has since been used for many transactions, legal or not.

Forms of cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin and Dogecoin, have been used to siphon money to the government’s own pockets to purchase weapons. According to the BBC, North Korea used sophisticated cyber-attacks to amass around two billion dollars in cryptocurrency for its weapons of mass destruction.

SCHS senior Riya Mehta opposes governments using third-party currencies like Bitcoin.

“I don’t think the government should be involved in that sort of thing (cryptocurrencies) but rather push forward their own currency, or national currency first,” Mehta said.

Some believe governments and politicians should not be able to trade stocks or use cryptocurrencies because of environmental reasons. The BBC reported that Bitcoin emits more megatons of energy each year than Greece.

Bitcoin mining is the technique of creating new Bitcoins, and is made up of competing computing systems with specialized computer “brains.” These “brains” are called ASIC, or application-specific integrated circuits, and are programmed to solve mathematical puzzles.
Successful guesses go back into the Bitcoin database in the form of writing more blockchain to create Bitcoins. The miner’s computers identify a piece of data, generated by the Bitcoin database, that assigns it a set of problems called a hash. This hash has a number of zeros in the binary language, and every ten minutes – the rate these new blocks of hashes are created – the Bitcoin database halves the amount of Bitcoin rewarded.
Sophomore Ollin Ruiz believes that Bitcoin mining is harmful to the environment, and does not align with the climate-first mentality many hold.

“You have some use cases, but I say that it’s a waste of energy. Mining Bitcoin is a solid reason why the silicon shortage is still going on,” Ruiz said.

Mehta explained that the instability of cryptocurrencies makes investments more high-risk compared to other stocks.

“Cryptos are very volatile. They go up to 100 percent and then drop. It’s insane,” Mehta said. “I do think it decentralizes authority from the government, which is important for the government to have that sort of authority to regulate markets in times of recession.”

Mehta feels that though Bitcoin is not recognized by the United States as an official currency, the fluctuation of its prices affects tax payers.

“If they (Bitcoin users) lose that money though, they’re losing American money, they’re going more into debt and it impacts all of us, and we are entrusting the government to take care of us and for general welfare because we’re giving them our money.” Mehta said. “So I don’t think it’s morally sound.”