Microsoft founder Bill Gates, speaking in his capacity as a leading philanthropist and tech expert, has cautioned about the dangers of cryptocurrency. In a damning appraisal of digital currencies like Bitcoin, Gates said they have directly caused deaths.
Speaking during a Reddit AMA, Bill Gates suggested “the government's ability to find money laundering and tax evasion and terrorist funding is a good thing.
“Right now cryptocurrencies are used for buying fentanyl and other drugs so it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way.” He argues the ability for cryptocurrencies to be used remotely removes some control regulators and authorities have.
Doubling down on his concern, Gates said investing in the market is not wise. “I think the speculative wave around ICOs and cryptocurrencies is super risky”.
It seems Gates is unhappy about several emerging technologies, including Elon Musk's Hyperloop concept. Using rail gun technology, Hyperloop can launch passengers in a pod through a low-pressure tub at speeds reaching many hundreds miles per house. However, Bill Gates is unconvinced:
“I am not sure the Hyperloop concept makes sense,” he said. “Making it safe is hard.”
Despite being dismissive of two speculative innovations, the former Microsoft CEO was more positive about the general technology sector. He is excited about automated tech, and said concerns about a negative impact on the economy are unfounded.
“Automation has been driving productivity ever since the industrial revolution including things like tractors and garment making,” Gates said. “With software this will continue to accelerate so we need to think about how we educate people for the new jobs that will emerge.
“Overall automation is a great thing – eventually we won't have to work as much but we are still at least a generation away from a big change there.”
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has also criticized cryptocurrencies this week, offering a typically outspoken view. He said he has been scammed out of seven bitcoins recently, claiming it was too easy for the currency to be stolen.
“Somebody bought them from me online through a credit card, and they cancelled the credit card payment,” he told a conference in India. “It was that easy. And it was from a stolen credit card number, so you can never get it back.”