One of the world’s most successful innovators, Jimmy Wales has just weighed in on blockchain and cryptocurrency stocks and here’s what he has to say about the wisdom of buying blockchain: “You can’t ban blockchain. It’s math!”
Blockshow is Europe’s largest blockchain conference and was held this year at the end of May in Berlin. Its headliner was co-founder of internet phenomena Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales.
For most of us, Wales represents a tech success story in every sense; he’s a famous innovator who’s completely revolutionized how we distribute knowledge. It may seem strange for his sold-out panel to be titled “Failure: Jimmy Wales is Good at It” but the entrepreneur credits his response to failure as part of how he’s made it so far.
At Blockshow, he applied the concepts he’s learned from failure to blockchain to help inform predictions and opinions on the open source code and its ensuing cryptocurrency. For a quick refresher on the difference between the two, check out our previous post What is Blockchain Technology?.
Speaking to Catherine Ross, Wales focused on cryptocurrency and blockchain during a panel discussion found in its entirety here. The most pertinent portions of the panel quoted below are from a transcript on Cointelegraph.
“Catherine Ross: During your speech, you’ve called cryptocurrencty a bubble, and you’ve also expressed this opinion in different interviews. Why do you think so?
Jimmy Wales: I’m old now, and I was in the internet world during the dot-com bubble, so when I say something is a bubble, it doesn’t mean that I think there’s nothing of value there. It means there’s a lot of noise and there’s a lot of investment money flowing in, and a lot of things are being invested into what does not actually make sense. A lot of projects are going to fail, but we additionally have a lot of scams, a lot of theft, a lot of crazy things happening. So, I just ask people to be careful.”
“I would say, there’re a lot of interesting potential applications…[to blockchain stocks and buying bitcoin]…” – Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia
CR: “If you ever decide to launch a blockchain related project, what kind of project will it be?
JW: I’m not planning to do anything directly in the blockchain space. I am very intrigued by the idea. A lot of people have pitched me on their ideas in the journalism space, I just don’t see it makes a lot of sense. I’ll continue to reflect and think. At this stage of my career, I’m not just trying to get money from people for something I don’t personally believe in. Until I figure it out, I’m not going to be doing anything….
CR: Do you believe cryptocurrency or the blockchain technology can offer a solution [to issues of privacy]?
JW: I don’t know. I suspect not. I think that the issue is much broader and a lot of the ideas in this area failed to understand the real risk points and solve problems that people don’t actually have. I think that the biggest thing that is happening is that consumers are beginning to wake up to the idea that sharing all of your data has consequences that you might not have thought about. There are good consequences. One of the good consequences is that advertising is more relevant, and I think consumers appreciate that. I like the fact that I get ads for things that I’m interested in. There’s nothing wrong with that….”
Cryptocurrency and the world of bitcoin stocks and blockchain use saw their largest rise yet during 2017.
CR: “The [cryptocurrency] industry saw its biggest rise in 2017. Did it reflect somehow on Wikipedia searches? Any increased activity on crypto-related pages?
JW: Yes, I’m sure. I haven’t actually looked at that data, but what we see at Wikipedia is that the search query, the search volumes for everything do tend to follow the news cycle. Things that suddenly become very interesting because they’re in the news all the time, we’ll see a lot more searches at Wikipedia. Because, you know, if you simply read in the mainstream media about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, it’s going to be very rare to get any kind of in-depth explanation of how it works and what it is, and Wikipedia is a pretty good place to go for that kind of broad background information. Even the story of Satoshi Nakamoto is a romantic story, it’s got a huge amount of press, it’s very intriguing. A lot of people read the article on Satoshi Nakamoto, I’m sure, millions of people.
CR: I understand that. There’ve been a lot of discussions about how to regulate the [cryptocurrency] space. And you personally, do you consider cryptocurrency a commodity or utility?
JW: There’re many, many different aspects. There’s blockchain as a technology.
Blockchain as a technology is not something that needs regulation.
You’ll occasionally hear a politician saying, “We need to ban cryptography,” but that’s stupid and crazy and you’re never going to do it with math. You can’t ban math. You can’t ban blockchain. It’s math. At the same time, we see a lot of things going on that it’s very difficult to say they’re anything other than just scams. People are making millions of dollars of other people’s money with no accountability and that deserves law enforcement for investigation. We see a lot of the hacks and Bitcoin or other coins being stolen because somebody hacked the server and got the keys. That’s what the police are for, right? Ideally. I feel like there’s been far too little response. You know, if you walked into Citibank and walked out with 56 million dollars’ worth of gold.”