Millions of idiots trying to mine cryptocurrency so they can be part of the latest, stupidest and most irresponsibly hyped get-rich-quick tech craze are hindering the actual important work of finding out if aliens exist. This revelation, first reported by the BBC, has ruined my Wednesday.
I generally stay quiet on the cryptocurrency and Bitcoin front, not because I hold any strong position in either (I own zero cryptocurrency) but because I think it’s a stupid, feverish fad that is only encouraged by allowing it any kind of oxygen whatsoever. But the fever doesn’t appear to be abating, and meanwhile GPUs used for cryptocurrency mining are high demand, meaning they can’t be used for other purposes for which they’re well suited, including parsing data gathered by observatories to help find signs of extraterrestrial life.
The BBC notes that a UC Berkeley team of researchers were hoping to expand their GPU capability at their telescope lab, and that they went to spend a National Science Foundation grant but realized their money wouldn’t go as far as planned because the cost of their target GPU hardware had doubled.
If we miss out on finding other sentient lifeforms because someone spent the last of their 2018 beer budget on a cryptocurrency mining rig, driving up the price of GPUs in service of chasing an imaginary payday, then I’m gonna be even more pissed off. But maybe said sentient beings will just obliterate us anyway, since we’ll just register as a substandard intelligence that has a bizarre fascination with running high-powered PCs around the clock in search of meaningless data with only fictional value.