How much of what this article says is true? I thought I had read that bitcoin miners are the ones who maintain the blockchain. Do they also do something other than maintaining the blockchain? In particular, things that no one would otherwise want done?


  • 1
    Related: bitcoin.stackexchange.com/questions/331/…
    – Murch
    Nov 23, 2013 at 2:18
  • I'd really be curious, as to how much the computer infrastructure and personnel expenditures of banks would amount to, for the same amount of money transfered and number of transactions processed.
    – Murch
    Nov 23, 2013 at 2:22
  • 1
    You may be interested in the answers here: bitcoin.stackexchange.com/questions/5617/…
    – jwsample
    Nov 23, 2013 at 3:06
  • It's a mote point, BUT: One could argue there are zero proven Floating Point Instructions per Second computing capability used for mining because that only uses integer calculations, and specialized hardware (ASICs!) may not be able to emulate a single floating point instruction. That said, semantics aside, the article was accurate but now may actually understates the computing power by a factor of about 5, if you take it to say 1 exaMIPS and equate 1 MHash/s with about 1000 MIPS, which is my guesstimate for a roughly fair equivalent.
    – user6049
    Nov 23, 2013 at 10:33

1 Answer 1


YES. 1)They help maintain the reputation of bitcoin by showing how it "works" and demonstrating that you can make money AND THEREFORE 2)They help encourage the developement of more powerful mining rigs and the business sector that makes them AND 3)They encourage more mining activity AND 4)They increase the difficulty.

GO TO 2).

Oh, just forgot one..

5)They help keep the planet nice and warm with all the electricity converted to heat by the mining rigs (I do hate being cold !).

6)AND ALSO (see my previously posted question): The may(or may not) be effectively working for the NSA (or someone) by helping to crack and/or obtain hash results of SHA256 which may (or may not) be useful (for someone to do something) such as constructing a larger look up table for SHA256 (e.g. crack longer length passwords.).

I suppose if you own a nice big mining rig (or otherwise have "control" of someone else's) it might be more cost effective to use it to hack into something rather than mine coins so I think one answer to the question would be "Yes, but not bitcoin mining if you choose to use the rig for something else more profitable and are dishonest/criminally minded".

  • Point 6 can easily be refuted by looking at the numbers, as I have in [my answer to the question if Bitcoin mining compromises the security of SHA256]: In a worst-case scenario where miners all collude to find a hash collision, it would currently take in excess of 10^15 years. So until we get more than just a billion times more mining, there is nothing to worry about for the next million years... (pun intended)
    – user6049
    Nov 23, 2013 at 10:38
  • Also note that NIST has already named a successor (SHA3), which applications that require actual security rather than a security theater may switch to, unless they use one of the many non-US-government approved alternatives.
    – user6049
    Nov 23, 2013 at 10:41
  • SHA3 is interesting. A completely different algorithm (sponge function), variable output length (very useful) but as I understand it still being tweaked with respect to various parameters. I have no doubt it will be the one for the future but whether SHA3 has weaknesses is another matter and time will tell. In general we do need to move away from the simple probability calculations (e.g. 10^15 years). Enigma coding machines have lovely big numbers and seem to get better the more cylinders/wheels added but if you pick at some stage an even no. instead of odd...disaster=crackable. Nov 23, 2013 at 19:36

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