Crypto is making New York winemakers angry- POLITICO

With the help of Sam Sabin and Derek Robertson

Markets aren’t the only ones wary of cryptography right now.

New York lawmakers are increasingly concerned about cryptographic mining. The energy-intensive industry has been building its huge computer processing arrays in rural areas of the state, at least two of which have set up old power plants to provide electricity.

This horrifies environmentalists, who have pushed for a new law through the state assembly that prevents miners from restarting old fossil fuel plants. The state Senate has until June 2 to vote on the moratorium before the end of the legislature.

Of course, New York State needs jobs. Why not cryptographic mining?

I traveled north of New York State (Dresden to be specific) to an in-depth report on what that industry is like, and what kind of enemies he is making, especially winegrowers, concerned about the pollution of their bucolic landscapes. Some excerpts from the story:

Behind the barbed wire fence, the excavators are parked next to the shells of two green buildings under construction. Three chimneys above the towers serve as a reminder of when the Greenidge Power Plant burned 740,000 tons of coal a year here in New York’s Finger Lakes, providing enough electricity for more than 200,000 homes.

Today, the facility uses much of the energy it generates, now through natural gas, to operate an on-site cryptocurrency mining operation. Greenidge plans to move many of its mining machines, which are now scattered, to the new buildings.

There are 17,000 individual “miners”, which are installed at the plant in 16 different “environments”, including an old brick warehouse on the ground.

The coal-fired gas plant turned into a cryptocurrency mine has become emblematic of a battle for the future of digital currencies, particularly Bitcoin, in New York.

Industry advocates say the plants are helping to rebuild the troubled economy of upstate New York. But as more cryptocurrency mining operations appear in the state, taking advantage of the old industrial space and access to cheap energy, environmentalists and some state government officials have worried about the impact. They are concerned about their aggressive targets for reducing carbon emissions – the state wants to reach zero net by 2050 – and the effects of quality of life in some communities.

New York miners have an interesting enemy: winemakers, another industry that is trying to revive the state’s northern economy.

The Greenidge plant sits on the shores of Lake Seneca, visible from the vineyards on the opposite side, where the three chimneys provoke visceral reactions of disgust and dislike of winemakers who fear an existential threat to the bucolic image that attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists. to the pristine Finger Lakes every summer.

“I carry shit in the air, and I don’t want it,” said Phil Davis, a sixth-generation farmer who co-founded Damiani Wine Cellars on the shores of Lake Seneca.

“It’s nonsense,” said Rich Rainey, managing partner of neighboring Forge Cellars.

Perched on a ladder, he slaps the large barrel of wine beside him to emphasize. “These are real things. They were bought on the street and made by real people … We are building a real economy that benefits many people as opposed to, frankly, a simulated economy.”

How many jobs does crypto create?

Inside the plant, the company revived an operation that was previously overseen by more than three dozen men when it burned coal and then, after layoffs, only two men to oversee the idle operation. That was before the new gas turbine was installed.

Dale Irwin, president of Greenidge Generation Holdings, was one of those two men. He now oversees the operations of the plant, which now employs about 50 workers to operate the gas turbine, maintain the mining machinery and support that operation. which are not always in demand in the region.

What the legislature is willing to do:

Industry representatives are cracking down on New York’s proposed two-year moratorium on permits for cryptocurrency mining operations at fossil fuel plants. The bill, which was passed by the Assembly and needs approval in the state Senate, where a broader ban was passed last year, will not affect Greenidge’s facilities.

Read the full story here.

While cryptocurrency is finding its way into retirement funds as it strives for general acceptance, its darker side is also growing. Hackers who launch ransomware on computer networks, who often ask for encryption, are doing more than anyone has ever noticed.

“We are facing a technology pandemic on the brink,” according to a new report from blockchain analytics firm Elementus, which reports that ransomware gangs will earn more than $ 1 billion in 2021, far more than previous estimates.

Ransomware, hacking attacks that freeze computer systems until payments are made, usually in bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies, is growing rapidly. In 2019, companies made 35 payments of more than $ 1 million each to ransomware gangs. In 2021, that number has grown to 183.

Max Galka, CEO of Elementus, said that most ransomware attacks are now perpetrated by some large groups based in Russia and other former Soviet republics, which Elementus warns that “every year they are more agile, dangerous and challenging.” Only four ransomware software strains (Conti, Darkside, Phoenix Locker, and Sodinokibi) contributed more than $ 500 million in ransomware payments last year.

These figures are much higher than previously reported. Galka said the new account is the first “proper top-down accounting to add up all the payments that were sent through the ransomware.”

An Elementus spokesman said the company shared its preliminary findings for this report with the National Security Council during a meeting on November 16. The federal government has also struggled to measure the extent of the ransomware problem, as victims often do not report paying ransomware. . (A new law requiring companies to report ransom payments may change this).

Elementus, which is marketed as “the first universal blockchain search engine,” has reached its peak by tracking bitcoin payments on the blockchain, which are not, in the end, anonymous. The company has combed clandestine hacking forums and worked with clients to identify cryptocurrency wallet addresses linked to ransomware gangs and track digital crumbs, so to speak. Since ransomware hackers rely heavily on cryptography to collect rescues, getting an address is pretty much all it takes for Elementus (and other blockchain forensics companies) to track other transactions from and from various wallet addresses linked to a particular ransomware band. .

According to Elementus, almost half of bitcoin’s revenue from ransomware was collected in conventional currencies on commercial exchanges such as Binance, FTX or Coinbase.

The good news, according to the firm, is that since a small number of individuals appear to be behind most ransomware attacks, the use of cryptophore tools (such as those they sell) may make it possible to curb the rapid rise in ransomware. – Sam Sabin

Because technology is still so speculative, when people talk about the metaverse, they often end up discussing the various canonical science fiction novels about it: “Snow Crash,” “Ready Player One,” “Neuromancer.”

But what about the books that will really be en or metaverse?

Book website Brightness of books posed that question in a recent one blog post, tracing the history of virtual libraries from the first Kindle to the popular “bookstagrams” of today. Theoretically, one could keep his dream library in the metaverse, either a cozy, color-coded Ikea-style showroom or an old Alexandria Library full of old Tintin and Carl Barks comics. (Not that I pay much attention to this.)

Digitizing libraries around the world was one of the first utopian dreams of the Internet, but one that was riddled with copyright issues (especially because Google surreptitiously he aspired to the libraries of the world.)

Bringing that digital library to the metaverse is attractive in theory, but it encounters another serious problem. Like many of our IRL home libraries, these virtual ones may end up being primarily for display. That’s because headaches andmotion dizziness they are still serious problems in VR. The prospect of wearing headphones for more than an hour is still pretty far-fetched, so deep reading is unlikely at best.

So don’t change your Kindle for an Oculus headset yet. And if you still need your metaverse correction, it’s not exactly hard to get your imagination running and get your hands on any of the above novels, or, I personally recommend, Gibson’s most recent.The Peripheral”, Which is greatly underestimated as a potential-future tale, albeit an extremely gloomy one. – Derek Robertson

Keep in touch with the whole team: Ben Schreckinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson ([email protected]); Konstantin Kakaes ([email protected]); and Heidi Vogt ([email protected]).

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