Ray Kurzweil, a leading futurist, author, inventor, and the head of Google's engineering lab, has made some impressively accurate predictions about the future. However, this may not be the best news for the burgeoning cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. Kurzweil spoke at the Exponential Finance Summit in New York City late last week and he had some less than flattering things to say about the currency. While he may see the value in the decentralization of currency, he doesn't feel like Bitcoin is the way forward.
Currencies like the dollar have provided reasonable stability. Bitcoin has not. And it’s not clear to me that the whole mining paradigm can provide that type of stability… We’ve seen tremendous instability with bitcoin, so I wouldn’t put my money into it. I certainly do think there could be alternatives to national currencies emerging in the future. Algorithmic ones are a possibility, I just don’t think we’ve arrived at the right algorithm yet.
Kurzweil is not the only high-profile Bitcoin skeptic or opponent. Billionaire investor Mark Cuban spoke out about Bitcoin last week, denouncing it as a currency and discussing it as a bubble. Kurzweil's comments echo these sentiments, especially with his view of the cryptocurrency's instability. However, Daniel Roberts from Yahoo! Finance sees Kurzweil's view of that instability as an oversimplification. When looked at in the long term, Bitcoin is showing steady gains.
Bitcoin has enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent weeks as prices have surpassed $3,000 (albeit briefly). In the first moments of 2017, Bitcoin could barely reach the $1,000 mark. As of today, the cryptocurrency stands at more than $2,550.
Bitcoin is powered by blockchain technology. A blockchain is a decentralized ledger that allows for complete anonymity, security, and transparency for all transactions taking place on the ledger. Kurzweil is more optimistic about blockchain, saying, "I think once we can demonstrate confidence, then yes, a blockchain currency makes sense, and being able to document transactions securely, but there’s a lot to work out.”
In an effort to work out those kinks, many companies and even some countries are adopting blockchain technology. Some countries are even exploring switching their national currencies over to cryptocurrencies. We are in the early stages of its development, but this could go down as one of the few predictions Kurzweil gets wrong.
Disclosure: Several members of the Futurism team, including the editors of this piece, are personal investors in cryptocurrency markets. Their personal investment perspectives have no impact on editorial content.