Kazakhstan internet shutdown deals blow to global bitcoin mining operation


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Bitcoin's main selling point is its decentralisation. But this brings up an issue of how do you trust that someone is performing a legitimate transaction and not, say, stealing someone or making a purchase with funds they dont have.

The system that they came up with, and why bitcoin is so big anyways is a system called Proof of Work. instead of trusting some central authority to verify transactions, it simply trusts whoever did the most "work".

How do you quanitfy work? one might ask. Well unlike humans who you can visibly see the effort and work put in, computers are way too trusting. If a lying computer says "i put in one million hours of work", the server will simply trust it without second guessing. So then how do you prove that a computer did something?

Math. Lots and lots of math. There exists things known as Cryptographic Hashes (fun fact: this is actually where the crypto in cryptocurrency comes from). Hashes are a special type of equation wherein the output number of the equation is highly sensitive to the input, meaning that if you change the input number by even like 0.001, the output can be off by several millions. They are also impossible to reverse engineer the input from the output
(technically it's not impossible, it'll just take modern computers several million years of non-stop equations to crack) The hash that bitcoin uses is a special one called SHA-256,

(fun fact: pretty much all of the internet uses SHA-256! If you're using Chrome on desktop, click on the little padlock to the left of the URL, click where it says "Connection is Secure", click "Certification is Valid". A little box should pop up showing you the internet certification. If you click "Details, and check "Signature Hash Algorithm", it'll say sha256)

With SHA 256, the bitcoin program can ask all computers to provide them with input number that produces an output number with say, 69 zeros in a row out of the 256 digits that SHA256 has. Because the input is so sensitive, and the output cannot be reverse engineered, there is no way to get that input number without physically entering in every single possible number over and over and over and over again until you get the correct number. This is actually what bitcoin mining is, because in addition to trusting you, you also get a little bit of bitcoin added to your own account as an incentive to keep going.

Because of this, bitcoin can say "you've spent the time brute forcing this equation, and since there is no possible way to cheat this equation, i trust you.

Now because that takes so much math to do, math takes electricity. Getting the number that bitcoin asks takes millions, if not hundreds of millions of attempts, and each attempt takes electricity. It doesn't seem like all that much, but you have to remember there are millions of people all doing this at once, with hundreds of computers with the top end of parts, each using more and more power in an effort to get the server to trust them

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