Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum ‘add nothing useful to society’, computer chip-maker Nvidia says
- Company exec says cryptocurrencies do not ‘bring anything useful for society’
- They’re also a worse use of processing power than AI tools such as ChatGPT
- READ MORE: Crypto mining is worse for the environment than beef production
From Bitcoin to Ethereum, cryptocurrencies have been hailed as the new way to pay for products and services online.
But according to one expert, they do not ‘bring anything useful for society’, despite using up massive amounts of processing power.
Michael Kagan, chief technology officer at chipmaker Nvidia, has said cryptocurrencies will never ‘do something good for humanity’.
The expert has citied artificial intelligence (AI) – including chatbot ChatGPT – as being of more use to the public and a better use of energy than ‘crypto mining’.
Cryptocurrencies perform mining to generate new coins and verify transactions, but it’s more environmentally costly than beef production, a recent study found.
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are the internet’s version of money – unique pieces of digital property that can be transferred from one person to another
Kagan told the Guardian that the development of chatbots along the lines of ChatGPT was a more worthwhile act than crypto mining.
What is crypto mining?
People create Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies through what is known as mining.
Mining is the process of solving complex math problems using computers running Bitcoin software.
These mining puzzles get increasingly harder as more Bitcoins enter circulation.
Each time a puzzle is solved, a new groups of transactions – known as blocks – are added to the blockchain (the shared transaction record).
Miners are rewarded by being issued with bitcoin.
ChatGPT, created by San Francisco-based company OpenAI, has been trained on a massive amount of text so it can generate human-like answers to questions.
Since its release in November, it’s been used to write essays, prescribe antibiotics, fool job recruiters and even come up with beer recipes.
‘With ChatGPT, everybody can now create his own machine, his own programme,’ Kagan said.
‘You just tell it what to do, and it will and if it doesn’t work the way you want it to, you tell it “I want something different”.’
In comparison, crypto is not ‘something that will do something good for humanity’, Kagan said.
Cryptocurrencies are the internet’s version of money – unique pieces of digital code that can be transferred from one person to another.
Mining, meanwhile, lets people earn cryptocurrencies by solving computational problems that verify transactions in the currency.
‘All this crypto stuff, it needed parallel processing, and [Nvidia] is the best, so people just programmed it to use for this purpose,’ Kagan said.
Bitcoin is the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, but others include Ethereum and Litecoin (file photo)
Pictured, a data centre of BitRiver company providing services for cryptocurrency mining in the city of Bratsk in Irkutsk Region, Russia March 2, 2021. The cryptocurrency is ‘mined’ by high-powered computers that solve computational maths puzzles, the complexity of which require huge amounts of energy
READ MORE – Bitcoin mining uses more energy than beef production
Climate damages attributable to Bitcoin mining averaged more than beef production and the mining of multiple precious metals put together
‘They bought a lot of stuff, and then eventually it collapsed, because it doesn’t bring anything useful for society. AI does.’
His comments came despite Nvidia selling graphics processing units (GPUs) for use in crypto mining, although the company released software back in 2021 that deliberately biased against the practice.
Instead, the US company likes to focus on providing its chips to the gaming sector, helping render graphics and images by performing rapid mathematical calculations.
It’s also rapidly expanding into fields such as AU and provides its GPUs to smart vehicles and robotics – including the likes of Tesla and Amazon.
‘[GPU] users are constantly discovering new applications for them, from weather simulation and gene sequencing to deep learning and robotics,’ Matt Wuebbling, global head of GeForce marketing at Nvidia, previously told the Guardian.
‘Mining cryptocurrency is one of them.’
Earlier this month, Microsoft said it had recently purchased tens of thousands of Nvidia AI-focused GPUs to power the workload of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT.
Microsoft is an investor in the company and the two are engaged in a partnership aimed towards accelerating ‘AI breakthroughs’.
ChatGPT is a large language model that has been trained on a massive amount of text data, allowing it to generate eerily human-like text in response to a given prompt
OpenAI has has already launched a more powerful second version of the tool called GPT-4, which is so advanced it could be ‘harmful’.
‘GPT-4 and successor models have the potential to significantly influence society in both beneficial and harmful ways,’ the company said.
Its success has created a panic at Google, which fears that its days as the world’s number one search engine could soon come to an end.
Google scrambled to come up its own equivalent chat bot, called Bard, to be released in the ‘coming weeks’.
Unfortunately for Google, Bard presented incorrect information as fact in a Twitter video, instantly wiping £100 billion from the tech giant’s value.
Will ChatGPT replace Google?
Gmail developer Paul Buchheit has predicted that ‘AI will eliminate the search engine result page’ and cause ‘total disruption’ for Google.
A New York Times report also said that Google executives sounded a code red within the company amid mounting pressure from ChatGPT.
A core way that Google makes money is from advertisers paying to have their links displayed alongside the results of a search query result in the hope that a user clicks on them.
The fluency and coherence of the results being generated now has those in Silicon Valley wondering about the future of Google’s monopoly
‘The way I imagine this happening is that the URL/Search bar of the [Google] browser gets replaced with AI that autocompletes my thought/question as I type it while also providing the best answer (which may be a link to a website or product),’ Buchheit said.
‘The old search engine backend will be used by the AI to gather relevant information and links, which will then be summarized for the user,’ Bucheit explained.
‘It’s like asking a professional human researcher to do the work, except the AI will instantly do what would take many minutes for a human.’
While some believe ChatGPT will replace Google, the AI has a different opinion.
‘As an AI language model, I do not have the ability to take over any company or organization, including Google,’ it said on the matter.
‘My purpose is to assist and provide helpful responses to users who interact with me.
‘Google is a multinational technology company with a strong market position and a vast array of products and services, so it is highly unlikely that any single entity, including an AI language model like myself, could take over Google.
‘Furthermore, I believe that companies like Google and AI language models like myself can work together to provide even better solutions and services to users around the world.’
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