Apple co-founder labels bitcoin a ‘bubble’

Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, used a keynote speech at Money 20/20 Europe to address artificial intelligence (AI), Bitcoin, banking and regulation.

“Bitcoin might be a bubble, but it’s on the right track,” he stated, noting that after so many years acting as a de-centralised, un-regulated system, the blockchain technology that underlies the digital currency is still working.

“There are a lot of astounding things that blockchain can do to change life for the better, I compare it to the beginning of the internet, where there was a lot of excitement, but eventually a crash when people tried to monetise it,” Wozniak stated, adding that it takes time for the culture to change and for things to become mainstream.

“There’s a limited number of bitcoin, compared to real currency, where governments can create more,” he added.

Wozniak said that while he was not too familiar with the banking industry, he saw a role for traditional financial institutions in securing assets, something which some of the newer players have had difficulty with.

“Online banks aren’t as secure as Barclays or whatever, I had seven Bitcoin with an online bank and it got stolen; so I’m out,” he commented.

Wozniak said that it was Apple that made the payments process easy – with other technology companies having to copy in order to catch up. He also said that the company he started up was very forthright in not abusing people’s personal data – unlike its competitors.

“I’m against companies making money from your data, the user should be more important than the company – contracts are unfair as the user doesn’t have a lawyer to look at everything they sign up for.”

As for regulation, Wozniak said it is an essential element for holding larger companies to account and making sure they don’t monopolise industries – adding that it should not hold innovation back.

Addressing the FinTech conference in Amsterdam, he stated: “I’m thankful for Europe’s role in this, in the US we’re lagging behind, it’s so right wing nowadays in terms of protecting people’s civil liberties.”

Finally, tackling AI, Wozniak said that the technology has gotten much closer to acting like humans in many ways, but still lacks the life experience and understanding of language to really pass the Turing test.

He did sound a note of caution in terms of what machine learning and neural networks mean for privacy though. “We have to worry about what AI’s development means for people, in terms of the deep dive AI knowing everything about ourselves, especially creative people.”

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