A Bitcoin transaction wastes as much electricity as it takes to power an American home for a week, and legendary coder Bram Cohen wants to fix it. And considering that he invented the ubiquitous BitTorrent peer-to-peer file transfer protocol, you should take it seriously.
Cohen has just launched a new company called Chia Network that will launch a cryptocurrency based on time and storage evidence rather than on Bitcoin's work evidences. Essentially, Chia will exploit the abundant and inexpensive unused storage space on hard drives to check its chain of blocks.
"The idea is to make a better Bitcoin, to solve the problems of centralization" Cohen tells me. The two main problems that he sees in Bitcoin are in the environmental impact and instability that stems from the few Bitcoin miners having the least expensive access to influential electricity. excessive.
Chia aims to solve both.
Bitcoin uses work proofs to check the blockchain. This is because it is prohibitively expensive to do a false blockchain as it would not have as much work as the real one. But over time, this has given a huge advantage in collecting incentives for Bitcoin extraction to those who operate near low cost electricity and naturally cool the air to cool the air. mining platforms.
Chia instead relies on evidence of space in file storage, which people often already have and can use without additional cost. It combines this with time proofs that disarm a wide range of attacks to which evidence of space is likely.
"I'm not the first person to have this idea," says Cohen, but the implementation requires the type of advanced computing in which he specializes.
After inventing torrenting in the early 2000s and working briefly on Steam for Valve, Cohen had been at BitTorrent for the construction of a new peer-to-peer live video transfer protocol. But mismanagement on the corporate side has pushed the company to implode. Now he's hobbling, and Cohen says "he does not need me day-to-day". While he is still a council member, he left early in August to launch Chia Network.
Cohen teamed up with Ryan Singer, Tradehill's chief operating officer at the start of the Bitcoin exchange, and they organized a departure round for Chia to speed up the pace. 39; hiring. Cohen did not say how much he had raised, laughing that "I do not know how much we want to announce right now, but it was a very hot ride." The goal is to make some first sales of Chia in Q2 2018, with a full launch of its cryptocurrency by the end of 2018, although Cohen says it's an extensible goal.
Cohen is a brilliant technologist, but it will take more than that to convince people to switch from Bitcoin to Chia. He tells me that the plan for Chia is to "do smarter things about his legal status and make a bunch of technical fixes that you can do from scratch."
It is too early to guess how all this will be played out, but at least someone is trying to address the ecological impact of cryptocurrency instead of complaining about it. Cohen seems excited. "It's technically ambitious and there's a lot of work to do – I've done enough fundraising and recruiting – now for real work."