What is cryptocurrency, and should you care?

By Matt Bentley

Put briefly: cryptocurrency is much ado about nothing, and you shouldn’t care about it.

In more detail: getting your computer to do a lot of very complicated equations (with no beneficial end result) gives you what is called cryptocurrency, which can be exchanged for goods and services on some websites. It’s a make-believe money market which, much like currency in most countries, has no real-world backing in terms of gold or other materials. But unlike those currencies, it is unstable and subject to hacking, consumes enormous amounts of computational energy which can be used for better things, and is generally a Bad Thing.

Proponents of cryptocurrency will tell you that it is a ‘decentralised’ currency, which is to say there is no centrepoint or exchange. Unfortunately, this turns out not to be true. All cryptocurrency goes through particular online exchanges when it is converted from one form to another. In addition, those who started early with cryptocurrency tend to have a lot more of it, and so control of the market is, in practise, dictated by a very small number of people, particularly those who have access to expensive high-performance computing resources.

There are many different forms of cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin, ethereum, dogecoin and others. The buying and selling of these emulates that which occurs in regular financial markets, but in a way which is easily controlled by those who started early with those particular currencies. So, the rich get richer, even with a ‘decentralised’ currency. And that’s not even mentioning the environmental side effects.

The amount of energy consumed to generate cryptocurrency worldwide generates emissions equivalent to that of a small country. That same amount of computational power, if applied to problems like cancer and alzheimer’s research, would have dramatic effects on human well-being. There are already many platforms using distributed computing in this way, such as Folding@Home, which played a pivotal part in developing vaccines for Covid-19.

Cryptocurrency adds nothing to human well-being, funds only the lucky few and has no real-world sustainability. In this author’s opinion it is the worst excess of tech culture, with it’s proponents either being cynical opportunists or chumps. For more info I recommend the youtube video “The Line Goes Up“, which also covers NFT’s, a related (and equally unimportant) technology.

Speaking of things which add nothing to human well-being, if you’re running Windows 10 and it asks you to upgrade to Windows 11, deny it. Don’t accept. Windows 11 is still a buggy, unfinished product that should never have been beta-tested on innocent home users. In three year’s time, once Win10 stops being supported by Microsoft, it should be ready for use.

  • Want help using your computer for something actually useful? Phone Matt at 0211348576 or email: info@homepcsupport.co.nz

Matt Bentley is the computer repair guy at Bentley Home PC Support. Photo of Matt Bentley

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

2 thoughts on “What is cryptocurrency, and should you care?

  • July 6, 2022 at 9:57 am

    Thanks to Matt Bentley for the write up about cryptocurency. Never could understand what it was and his review is most helpful. Its a bit like lotto a few win (maybe become rich!) and the poor support the winner!

    • July 6, 2022 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks Judy, he has done a good job, I shall pass your comment on to him!


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