Steve Wozniak (aka the ‘Woz’) thinks Bitcoin is better than gold and the U.S. dollar, which he called “phony,” because the government can always print more.
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On Sunday, October 22, 2017, the co-founder of Apple Computers shared his thoughts on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies at Money20/20 in Las Vegas where he was interviewed by Deirdre Bosa, technology reporter at CNBC. The conversation was around artificial intelligence, but the topic of Bitcoin emerged as well.
Wozniak feels a currency is more “stable” when it cannot be diluted and, while Bitcoin has a fixed future supply (only 21 million bitcoins will ever be mined), the same cannot be said about government-backed fiat currencies.
“There is a certain finite amount of bitcoin that can ever exist,” Wozniak said in explaining that the U.S. government could wind up printing more dollars for political reasons. He described the U.S. dollar as “kind of phony” in that sense, while describing Bitcoin as more “genuine and real.”
Similarly, he said, gold does not necessarily have a fixed supply either, because humans will continue to find more efficient ways to dig it out of the earth.
“Gold gets mined and mined and mined,” Wozniak said. “Maybe there’s a finite amount of gold in the world, but Bitcoin is even more mathematical and regulated and nobody can change mathematics.”
He compared owning Bitcoin to owning a house. “Your house has value. And if it is a house today, 40 years from now, it still is a house in value,” he said, even if the price goes up and the government draws more taxes out of it.
Wozniak said he “admired” Bitcoin when the digital currency was first presented.
“I looked at it as a form of currency,” he said, adding that initially he did not understand the underlying blockchain technology but now he does.
He said, initially, he had a tough time buying bitcoin because that required setting up a special bank account. The process, he said was “so awkward, it kept me from getting early bitcoin.” When he finally was able to buy bitcoin, he said the price immediately dropped in half.
But those kind of numbers don’t mean so much to Wozniak. “I am not financial,” he told the crowd, admitting he never followed the price of bitcoin, nor the price of Apple stock but said he was drawn to bitcoin because it was based on mathematics.
“My wife and I, we judge a hotel room more by the number on the door than what is inside the room. We are both mathematicians,” he said.
Countless Opportunities for Blockchain Technology
Wozniak also touched on Bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology, and its importance in allowing people to transparently track things, like minerals.
“Right now, there is conflict with minerals in the world, and you don’t want to buy conflict minerals. Well, how do you avoid it?” He continued by explaining how companies will usually buy gold from different countries and smelt it together, so there is no way of knowing where it all comes from. With blockchain-based solutions, however, tracking where that gold comes from is now possible.
“They are applying the technology where all the payment can only go to the good, legitimate sources that don’t have conflict minerals,” he added.
Wozniak pointed out that, currently, there are so many applications popping up using blockchain technology that are so different than what people initially imagined, and it will take time to get used to.
He also likened the introduction of smart contract platforms, like Ethereum, to when computers first came out and suddenly people were writing “tens of thousands of programs” nobody had ever thought of before. Smart contract platforms open those same doors of opportunity.
“There is a lot more to this cryptocurrency than just the Bitcoin,” he said.