Bartolotto, Michael, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Earle, Joshua, EN-Engineering and Society; PV-Institutional Research and Analytics, University of Virginia
Vrugtman, Rosanne, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
On the other hand of software technology, cryptocurrency has been a technology that has promised a novel transaction but has been riddled with various issues along the way. One of the more pressing of these issues is regarding the environmental impact of the technology with the use of the blockchain technology that is used to validate transactions as unique, whether two parties are transferring money to one another or if an individual is “mining” to obtain one of these unique instances on the blockchain. The process behind this validation involves a proof-of-work model that requires a tremendous amount of energy to create these instances of tokens. These computations that are conducted are typically utilizing fossil fuels to generate this energy, leading to further carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Even when the blockchain or mining computers are hooked up to renewable energy sources, the price for using the energy skyrockets and negatively affects others living within the immediate area of these facilities.
There have been many cryptocurrencies that have been created and distributed online, with many of them being plagued with the environmental and computational issues mentioned previously. The industry leader, Bitcoin, is infamous for large amounts of carbon emissions that are attributed to both transactions on the blockchain, and the variety of mining farms used by the consumers. In comparison, Ethereum is the only major cryptocurrency company that has implemented a green policy that switched their entire proof-of-work model to a proof-of-stake model. Unfortunately, a good majority of cryptocurrencies have followed the precedent set by Bitcoin with the proof-of-work model for validating blockchain transactions rather than that recently established by Ethereum. For the future, if there are no efforts to lessen or reverse the current trends with carbon emissions within the cryptocurrency industry, it may be more than enough to push us over the edge to a climate disaster on Earth.
From both the technical report and the research paper, two different sides of software technology are explored in greater detail to display certain strengths and flaws of areas of the technology. This is done primarily to illustrate how us humans need to consider both sides of this technology with future innovations and breakthroughs in software technology, and if this brand new innovation will help or hinder us in the long run.
BS (Bachelor of Science)
Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, Environment
School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Rosanne Vrugtman
STS Advisor: Joshua Earle
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