The Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus mechanism is one of many features that sets Bitcoin apart from any other settlement network that came before it. Through PoW, thousands of high-powered computers around the world convert electricity into processing power in order to help confirm Bitcoin transactions on the blockchain. In no small way, the Bitcoin blockchain would be doomed to fail if not for the breakthrough of PoW.
That said, PoW is not without its critics. The main critique for the last several years has centered on the misunderstood negative environmental impacts of Bitcoin mining. However, another common refrain from Bitcoin detractors has touched on the growing centralization of Bitcoin mining operations.