Inventor and founder of World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee delivers an address to IBM Lotusphere 2012 conference on January 18, 2012. He speaks about social Web

Tim Berners-Lee doesn’t understand Bitcoin—that’s a shame

Tim Berners-Lee slammed digital currency speculation on an episode of CNBCs “Beyond the Valley” podcast late last week.

The inventor of the World Wide Web called digital currencies “only speculative” and compared them to the Dot Com bubble. Speaking to the nature of the speculative frenzy of the past few years, he said, “obviously, that’s very dangerous. It’s if you want to get a kick out of gambling, basically.”

Berners-Lee said that investing in purely speculative assets isn’t where he would spend his time. However, he did see one use-case for digital currencies—remittances—on the condition that they are immediately converted back into fiat currencies when received.

Berners-Lee has often expressed dissatisfaction with how the web turned out. When asked about his opinion of Web 3.0, he said it would not be based on blockchain technology because it’s not fast or secure enough.

Berners-Lee should talk to Dr. Craig Wright

When I hear a man of this caliber expresses an ill-informed opinion about blockchain not being fast or secure enough to underpin the future internet, I am dismayed. Truly, the damage the ‘crypto bros’ have done to the image of digital currencies and blockchain technology is almost irreparable.

In fact, many of Berners-Lee’s concerns about the web and how it has turned out can be addressed specifically by Satoshi Nakamoto’s original Bitcoin protocol. Why so? Mainly because its inventor, Dr. Craig Wright, shares many of the same concerns as Berners-Lee, and he set out to solve them by inventing Bitcoin.

The inventor of the web, like Bitcoin’s inventor, has expressed disgust at the Silicon Valley companies and their ‘move fast and break things’ philosophy. While he had a powerful vision that the web would positively transform government, businesses, and entire societies, it has ripped all three apart. Coups organized on Facebook (NASDAQ: META), parasitic privacy-invading companies harvesting data and monitoring our every move, and societies coming apart at the seams thanks to echo chambers and political polarization are the norm in the internet age.

Berners-Lee told a Vanity Fair reporter in Washington that he was “devastated” by what his invention had become. However, his remarks that blockchain is not fast or secure enough to underpin a new, transformed global network show that he doesn’t fully understand it. That’s not a surprise, nor is it a slight to the genius who pioneered the web; vested interests like Digital Currency Group have ensured that even the most intelligent and most forward-thinking people in the world don’t understand what Bitcoin is and is capable of.

So, what is Bitcoin?

Far from being a purely speculative digital currency, Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer electronic cash system capable of unlimited transactions per second. To understand this, it’s necessary to first understand that BTC is not Bitcoin—it’s a protocol fork using the Bitcoin name, and it is indeed a merely speculative, useless waste of resources.

However, the real Bitcoin, the protocol Dr. Wright invented, can radically transform how the internet, and hence the web, work. By making transactions peer-to-peer (in conjunction with IPv6), middlemen like Meta and Twitter can be cut out, stopping their data harvesting in its tracks as peer-to-peer communication facilitated by nano transactions replaces them.

Likewise, the tsunami of criminal activity the web unleashed, including everything from to-your-doorstep drug dealing to the proliferation of endless scams and financial ripoffs, can be significantly reduced by the time-stamped evidence of every transaction left on the blockchain. Yes, privacy can be maintained, but when serious crimes occur, there will be evidence on the blockchain that it did, and thus there will be less of an incentive to commit these crimes in the first place.

As for whether or not Bitcoin can scale to underpin the future of the internet, that’s easy; it can already process 100,000 transactions per second, and since there’s no theoretical limit on block sizes, it can handle unlimited transactions. As for its security, the proof-of-work miners that will compete for blocks with billions of microtransactions in them will make sure the network is secure.

Tim Berners-Lee, like so many others, doesn’t understand Bitcoin (yet). That’s not his fault. A chat with its inventor would quickly bring him up to speed!

Watch: IPv6 is just like the original Bitcoin—both are all about scaling

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