Bitcoin Advocate Says ASIC Devices’ Inflexibility Makes AI Involvement Unlikely for Bitcoin Miners
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Bitcoin Advocate Says ASIC Devices’ Inflexibility Makes AI Involvement Unlikely for Bitcoin Miners – Interview Bitcoin News

According to Joe Downie, the chief marketing officer at Nicehash, bitcoin miners struggling to stay afloat after the halving are unlikely to support or become involved with artificial intelligence (AI). This is because their application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miners now “only allow for mining on one algorithm.” Furthermore, Downie argued that bitcoin mining devices are not “designed for flexibility,” and hence, they cannot be used to support AI infrastructure.

Nicehash CMO Discusses AI Challenges and Opportunities Post-Halving

Downie, a bitcoin advocate, nevertheless told Bitcoin.com News that artificial intelligence (AI) is mostly powered by graphics processing units (GPUs). Although he acknowledged that miners have successfully mined bitcoin (BTC) with such cards in the past, Downie insisted that it is no longer possible to achieve this today. However, the Nicehash chief marketing officer concurred that the AI boom does “represent a massive opportunity for miners using GPUs.” Downie even suggested that some mining platforms are now contemplating shifting their focus to AI.

Regarding the recent Bitcoin halving, which has left miners facing reduced revenue prospects, Downie noted that while further consolidation in bitcoin mining is still possible, much of it may have already occurred in 2022 during the so-called “crypto winter.” Therefore, while the revenues of these now larger mining firms are likely to take a hit, Downie said he does not see this resulting in the same level of buyouts witnessed nearly two years ago.

Concerning the recent sharp decline in the hashprice, the Nicehash CMO said such a drop provides opportunities for miners to acquire more hashrate for mining. In his written answers shared with Bitcoin.com News, the CMO also offered his thoughts on the subject of bitcoin mining’s perceived misuse of electricity. Downie’s answers to all the questions posed are provided below.

Bitcoin.com News (BCN): The fourth Bitcoin halving is said to have affected the income of many bitcoin miners, who are now grappling with profitability issues. In such times, it is the well-capitalized and well-prepared miners who acquire the distressed assets of their struggling competitors. Looking ahead, do you think the bitcoin mining sector will experience further consolidation, resulting in an ecosystem dominated by a few large-scale miners?

Joe Downie (JD): It’s very possible that the bitcoin mining sector could further consolidate, but it should be noted that the bitcoin mining sector has already seen several big consolidation phases during the bear market of 2022, where miners acquired either hardware or shares in other companies, or purchased companies that went bankrupt.

Since those events, bitcoin mining is largely run by a few big players, who have some pretty hefty balance sheets, so while they may struggle for a while, I don’t foresee the same level of buyouts as we did in the past. All the same, they will still continue to buy hardware and sites at a discount from miners who are closing down.

BCN: The steep decline in the hash price of bitcoin has compelled miners to adopt new strategies to navigate this volatile and uncertain period. In your view, what strategies could bitcoin miners employ to remain profitable? Do you think the expansion of Bitcoin-native defi and Web3 could counterbalance the decrease in mining rewards by generating additional transaction fees?

JD: Mining is generally quite black and white, so where someone loses, someone gains. This comes down to many rotating and ever-evolving factors such as hardware capabilities, block times, difficulty, network fees and more. On the one hand, some miners will struggle, but just as many will thrive, perhaps with a delayed reward for effort. If the hashprice is down, it gives opportunities for miners buying hashrate to mine.

In the short term, the boost of network fees from the recent Runes addition is definitely a benefit to miners, but it remains to be seen for how long that will continue. Miners can stay profitable by being smart about power usage, the types of hardware they invest in, and by buying or selling hashrate to generate extra revenue.

BCN: Nicehash claims to be the world’s leading hashrate marketplace where miners can buy and sell hashrate in real time. Could you tell our readers what hashrate is and why it’s bought and sold as an item of value?

JD: Hashrate is the name for the computing power used for mining. Essentially when a computer or device is mining, it is trying to solve a mathematical problem by guessing a hash function that is closest to the hash of the block that is next to be added to the blockchain. Typically, the more computers you have, or the more performant computers you have, the higher the chance you have to be the first miner to solve the block.

Miners can rent computing time from other miners and point the hashrate where they choose, however Nicehash is the only platform in the world that enables miners to do this in real-time, and this is one of the reasons our platform is the favourite solution for millions of miners worldwide. Being able to purchase guaranteed hashrate on demand is an extremely powerful tool that enables existing miners to increase their operations whenever they want to, but it also allows miners with no hardware to start mining cryptocurrency, with no upfront investment or costs, other than the hashrate you are purchasing.

BCN: According to a recent report by Coinshares, bitcoin miners may shift to AI in energy-secure locations due to the potential for higher revenue. The AI infrastructure is huge, so could you explain what role such miners play in AI and what does this shift mean for the bitcoin mining industry?

JD: It is very unlikely that the Bitcoin mining industry will get involved with AI, due to the fact that almost all Bitcoin mining is done on application-specific machines called ASICs. These only allow for mining on one algorithm and in a very specific way. They are not designed for flexibility, and cannot change algorithms, which is why AI is mostly powered by GPUs (graphics cards).

Bitcoin used to be mineable with graphics cards but this is no longer the case. AI does represent a massive opportunity for miners using GPUs since they can switch algorithms and be put to work on very diverse tasks. We are already seeing companies like NVIDIA benefit massively from the AI boom, and there are platforms out there that are gearing up to supply power for AI.

BCN: Nicehash has become the first-ever company to offer instant automated Lightning payouts to miners. How has your experience been so far and how has this initiative been received by miners?

JD: This has been an incredible addition to our platform, as it really helps to boost the adoption of bitcoin (BTC) into daily life. Anyone who is familiar with BTC knows that lightning is the way to go if you want to make fast and cheap payments. Nicehash has always been at the forefront of lightning adoption, and we really do spend a lot of time and effort to make sure that our platform is the most user-friendly out there, especially when it comes to the adoption of bitcoin. For miners, this means that they have instant access to their earnings, especially since we pay out every 4 hours, and so far the reaction has been nothing but positive. Everybody loves lightning!

BCN: Recently, Paypal partnered with Energy Web and DMG Blockchain Solutions to encourage miners to switch to low-emission energy sources. There is a growing call for bitcoin mining operations to go green. In your view, what are the biggest challenges to sustainable mining?

JD: This is a complex question that can go to a very deep level, since a big part of it depends on how and who is defining what constitutes “green energy,” but I will try to keep it simple. The biggest challenges to sustainable mining are not from the miners, but from the power companies themselves. There are areas in the world where power companies are simply bound by the constraints of the environmental, political, and financial incentives that discourage them from investing in green energy.

Miners in such places have little other choice. However, in contrast to almost any other industry, bitcoin miners have actually contributed massively to incentivize power companies to utilize more green energy, to put to use energy that would otherwise be wasted, unused, or detrimental to the environment (eg. flared gas, methane), and in some areas have helped to even bring power to people in places that it was previously unprofitable for power companies to invest in, since being able to monetize electricity brings with it tremendous benefits.

I truly believe that the biggest challenge to the industry is to show how beneficial bitcoin mining already is, since there exists a huge amount of bias towards the power usage of mining, when in reality, monetizing the actual electricity itself and turning it into money is absolutely the best use of power I can think of.

What are your thoughts on this interview? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Terence Zimwara

Terence Zimwara is a Zimbabwe award-winning journalist, author and writer. He has written extensively about the economic troubles of some African countries as well as how digital currencies can provide Africans with an escape route.















Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

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