Gas

The biggest argument against Non-Fungible Tokens – NFTs – is their intense energy consumption. The system is built around many computers solving difficult maths problems, and that takes a ton of electricity.

It was tricky wrapping my head around the computational power that’s invested in Ethereum, the network that Tom’s Rocket Factory is built on. But think about ‘Fugaku’, the world’s fastest supercomputer. It cost Japan - in my best Dr Evil voice - one billion dollars to construct. The catch is that you’d need 580 Fugaku’s to match all the computers that work together on the Ethereum network.

Half a trillion dollars’ worth of computers? No wonder the transaction costs on Ethereum are astronomical. When Sachs released his Test Flight Crew patch, you only needed to pay the transaction fees. This was the ‘shipping’ cost of moving the patch from Tom’s Factory to your digital pocket. Some people paid for expedited airfreight, which ran at several hundred dollars. Or if you were like me and happy to wait a bit, this shipping cost was as low as a few bucks.

That takes some adjustment – paying freight costs to ship digital files around the place. We are so accustomed to sending digital content across the Internet for almost nothing.

What I didn’t realise is that solutions for this intense energy consumption already exist. Networks like Polygon and Tezos ditch most of the complex maths to deliver cheaper NFTs that don’t cost the Earth.

A photo of a Tom Sachs flame thrower mounted in a case.

Photo: Anna Alek.

Originally written for the Sachsian Syndicate.

Previously: TGIM 26 - I think that’s one of the exciting promises of Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) – the ability to extract value from almost nothing more than your own labour.