At a conference this past weekend, Paypal Founder, and notable venture capitalist Peter Thiel weighed in on Bitcoin, the risks, and its potential impact on society. Seeing as digital currency is just about as futuristic as it gets, I thought his answer would be a fascinating addition to this blog, so I transcribed it below.. Below is the transcript of his thoughts on Bitcoin.
What Peter Thiel Thinks about Bitcoin
“We’ve had sort of this revolutionary original vision of paypal. I gave a talk back in November of ‘99 on strong crypto smartphones, and the end of monetary sovereignty, and how encrypted money was going to change the world. I do think bitcoin is the first one of these that has the potential to do something like that.
There’s still a whole question of whether the whole thing can be effectively outlawed or not, and that’s the part that’s always a little bit hard to calibrate. You know money is this extremely mysterious and important thing. One of the props I always used when I ran paypal was explaining in front of an audience and sort of explaining, I would sort of hold up a hundred dollar bill when we started the presentation, and it’s sort of always interesting how hypnotic [this is]. It got the audience just to be quiet and pay attention. There’s a question why it does that. It’s not very hygenic. Lots of people have touched it, but you know it has like a network effect, where you want it because other people want it. Maybe money is like a bubble that never ends, and then the question is, could bitcoin become sort of the new currency, and I do think all the anti-bitcoin arguments, where “it’s fake”, “it’s a bubble”, “it doesn’t represent anything real”, when you think about it, on some level, it seems like a lot of those arguments apply to this [the U.S dollar] as well, so it is worth thinking about money as the bubble that never ends. There is this sort of potential that bitcoin could become this new phenomenon.
The cautionary note I’d put on it is that it is the case that, as far as I can tell right now, it’s being used for speculation and illegal activity – illegal payments, and therefore it is possible that it will be scrutinized in an increasingly difficult way in the years ahead.
At paypal, one of the companies we encountered was this company called e-gold, which had anonymous sort-of certificates for gold that you could be traded anywhere in the world. At paypal, we made paypal operable with e-gold in March of 2000. We disconnected it from paypal three months later, when we found the main use for e-gold was people finding stolen credit cards, and charging the stolen credit card holders, and then laundering the money with anonymous gold certificates.
And in April of 2001, there was an interview with Wired magazine where they asked me about e-gold, and I said they were a sketchy company. The e-gold people then sued me for libel [the audience breaks out in laughter]. In October of 2001, we settled. You know, whenever we get sued in a company. What happens is you never negotiate…plaintiff’s lawyers are like terrorists, and you never negotiate with terrorists…except in every specific instance. And so of course we settled with them in sort-of the spring of 2002. And then, sort of the aftermath was that around 2008, the FBI got around and arrested all the people, and they went to jail.
And so I think there is this very complicated political question around something like bitcoin where, the fact that it hasn’t been shut down would tell you something if you had an extremely competent government that quickly stopped illegal activity. Because we do not have such a government in this country, you cannot have any reassurance that it will not be shut down at some point in the future, so I think that is still the open question with it, but it’s very interesting.”
How the Bitcoin Crash is anything but modern.
Have you ever wondered what billions of connections, mapped out looks like. Mark Zuckerberg today released a map of the world, represented in friend connections on Facebook. The more friends you have in your area, the darker it is. The map also links each friend, creating an almost-magical view of the world.
A few Things To Notice
- First of all, this map makes clear just how far we have to come in making the world smaller. Most connections are clearly within the same country, and even the same region. Will this map change as we become a (excuse the oxymoron) more global earth?
- Secondly, there are noticeable gaps in the middle east, and South America. This map is a good reminder not to take for granted the freedom of information we enjoy. Many around the globe aren’t able to do the same, either thanks to the cost of technology, or the law of their nation.
What does this map tell you? Leave a comment with your observations
The definition of ‘friends’ has morphed in the online era; some say it’s gone from ‘individuals with mutual affection’, to “people I think I saw or met once, somewhere”. Teen developer Ash Bhat’s new game, Quicki, tests your friendship and your memory, by seeing if you can connect names with the faces of your facebook friends.
Basically, after connecting your facebook account to the app, and once you start the game, Quicki prompts you with a full screen photo, and two names. You have around 4 seconds to tap the name that matches the face, and if you fail, you lose. For each correct answer, you’re given two points, or “Quicki”s, and the total is your score.
The real challenge comes with group shots. Sometimes , in group shots, identifying people quickly can be really challenging, and it makes for a good way to kill 10 minutes.
Competing is enjoyable because Quicki pitts you against yourself (trying to beat your own high score), and against others (through game center leaderboards). But there’s something great about Quicki beyond the competition.
The next area of Quicki is incredible, but it’s not for the feint of heart. After playing a few games, head to the home screen, and tap the top icon, and then “missed friends”. Quicki shows you a list of exactly who you missed, and offers a direct link to their profile, so that you can “defriend” them. At heart, Quicki is a tool for cleaning up full friend lists, and managing facebook, rather than just a game. I would never “defriend” someone I know, or a relative, but people do come to my attention on my own list, that seem to be adding no value to my facebook, so into the unfriended masses they go. It’s surprised me how many people I both 1. actually know, and 2. have never met. That’s the amazing thing about having 700 “friends”.
Quicki is very modern and easy to use. The interface is smooth, and minimalist. Photos are crisp, and high resolution, which is important when identifying friends.
There are still some bugs to be worked out though. This game was released a month ago, and when my internet connection isn’t fast enough, I find that the game continues with blank screens instead of photos, and identifying people becomes a guessing game.
Conclusion: It’s Free, so why not?
Quicki is free, and enjoyable despite minor bugs. It’s got an interesting gameplay, and it really does make you stop and consider who you’re ‘friending’. Provocative and free make a very good game.
Think you’re above the trend? You’re probably not, but you should give it a try. Check out Quicki in the iOS app store.