Is it possible to “kill” bitcoin? Its price may be considerably low at press time, but it seems relatively implausible that someone could kill off the world’s leading cryptocurrency. It’s not just the coin you’d have to destroy; there’s also the supporting blockchain technology behind it, along with the original whitepaper submitted in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto. Plus, no matter how bad it’s doing, bitcoin always seems to have a solid legion of fans backing it up.
One Man Wants Bitcoin Out
Nevertheless, killing bitcoin is what one man wants to do. His name is Bram Cohen, and he’s the founder of BitTorrent, a company he created while still a student at the University of Buffalo. Cohen isn’t a huge fan of bitcoin and believes that the amount of energy required to mine new units is wasteful and harms our planet. He’s proposing a new coin; a “green” coin called Chia that he says will make bitcoin a thing of the past.
What is Chia, and how does one get it? Do you have to glue seeds to a small, ceramic head and then watch coins sprout? Can you harvest these coins? Are you required to water them every day?
Saving Energy in the Crypto Space
Cohen bills Chia as “green money for a digital world,” and it aims to solve the energy crisis witnessed amongst cryptocurrency mining operations. Bitcoin presently uses a proof-of-work (PoW) system that Cohen cites as “energy-guzzling,” whereas Chia uses proof-of-space (PoS), which utilizes hard disk space during the mining process and allegedly saves tons of energy in the process.
Cohen says that Chia will be the very “antithesis” of bitcoin and that hard disk space is already widely available. Miners either don’t know about it or are too lazy to put it to work. He comments:
“The idea is that you’re leveraging this resource of storage capacity, and people already have ludicrous amounts of excess storage on their laptops and other places, which is just not being utilized. There is so much of that already that it should eventually reach the point where if you were buying new hard drives for farming, it would lose you money.”
Customer Safety Is Important
In addition to its energy-saving tactics, Cohen also assures that Chia will be a lot safer than bitcoin. While he acknowledges that it would be very expensive for anyone to attack the bitcoin network, it’s still very possible. Chia, on the other hand, is another story. He claims:
“To attack Chia, you’d have to get access to more resources than the entire network, which will be a huge amount of resources once everyone has signed up. The cost of acquiring them upfront would be huge, higher than the cost of the ASICs you’d need to attack bitcoin, so to overwhelm the system would be much more difficult.”
PoS Isn’t Perfect
The proof-of-space protocol does look better on paper, though it has its limitations. For one thing, re-mining from a genesis attack can occur on a PoS network. The attack happens when a hacker or malicious individual gains control of a significant amount of the network’s resources, thereby creating a new blockchain from scratch.
The hacker is then able to switch it out with the original blockchain, where it gets considerably longer. Granted the level of power the hacker possesses, they can persuade nodes to accept the new blockchain as valid. The hacker can then take hold of coin stashes and cancel transactions with ease.
Cohen has since introduced the proof-of-time (PoT) consensus to prevent this sort of attack. While it doesn’t stop bad actors from rewriting a blockchain’s work, they would need to put in lots of time to pull the attack off.
Chia was originally slated to be released at the end of 2018, though its debut has since been pushed to 2019.