Brett Harrison. Source: a video screenshot / weforum.org
Bitcoin (BTC) mining can be a force for both good and bad, depending on how it’s done and where it happens. But countries thinking of banning it should know that miners will not hesitate to simply move somewhere else, FTX.US president Brett Harrison said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday.
Speaking during a panel discussion with crypto investors, researchers, and other stakeholders in Davos, Harrison made it clear that banning crypto mining is not a viable solution, and should not be pursued by those who are concerned about crypto mining’s carbon footprint.
“There are some cases where Bitcoin mining is a force for good, helping to stabilize a renewable grid, and there are some cases where it’s a force for bad where it is driving up energy prices in a local town,” Harrison said.
He added that if a country was to “outright ban it,” then that country will not have the chance to regulate mining for the better, “and it just moves somewhere else.”
“This is what we saw in China when they banned mining, it moved immediately,” Harrison said. He added that part of the mining moved to America where it used a mix of renewables and natural gas, and “a lot of it” moved to Kazakhstan where it was powered by coal, “which is much worse than the hydro that was happening in China.”
Asked about how people can come to a common understanding of which consensus mechanisms are good and which ones are bad, and why the different “tribes” of the crypto community are against each other, Harrison said that this bears many similarities to politics.
“I think what you see online and on Twitter about these different consensus mechanisms is not too different from what you see in any kind of political debate. You see a very vocal minority sort of obscuring the silent minority on these issues,” he said, and added:
“Most of us in the crypto community want this technology to develop responsibly. We don’t want necessarily to pick winners or losers off the bat, we want it to develop, see where it goes, let the market pick what is going to be best.”
Harrison added that FTX and other companies in the crypto space have tried to work together to develop what he called “a unified message” to regulators, and not to “sow seeds of discord” on online forums where there are “religious debates” over whether proof-of-work (PoW) or proof-of-stake (PoS) is the best consensus mechanism in crypto.
“The most important thing we have to do as practitioners of blockchain is to tell the actual stories of the ways blockchains are being used,” Harrison stated.
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