The morality of Proof-of-Work

Previously, my German cloud-hosting provider disallowed cryptocurrency mining, given that mining is a process that consumes 100% of a computer’s CPU capacity, and their virtual servers (VCPUs) share a common pool of computing resources.

Recently, however, they announced the availability of virtual servers with dedicated resources (dVCPUs), and so I emailed them asking whether, on those servers, mining is acceptable. I expected a positive response, since mining is acceptable at other dVCPU providers, but they responded that their policies on crypto mining would remain unchanged, given that:

We do actually care about our environment.

I had three immediate reactions to this, which I sent them by email:

  1. You, as an organization, are making a judgement that one use of energy is morally acceptable, while another is not. I lived in Germany for many years, and that seems contrary to the cultural value I understood, that moral judgements should be left to the individual.

  2. There is a valid argument to be made that the benefits to humanity of a censorship-proof form of money justifies the energy required to provide for that censorship resistance. More energy efficient mechanisms have been proposed (PoS, etc.), but nobody can say with absolute certainty whether they will ultimate prove to be equally secure. The global market, however, continually casts its vote, and for the moment, it trusts Proof-of-Work.

  3. You are a private organization, and I respect your right to implement any policy you want. So don’t interpret the above as any kind of insistence that you change.

I’d like to ask you, the reader, for your opinion. Should hosting providers disallow crypto mining, on the moral arguments around justified use of energy?

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