Wozniak has weighed in on the pros and cons of blockchain and blockchain products, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, at a number of conferences over the last year.
While some of his comments can be perceived as quite harsh, overall he remains optimistic and even a little enamored with blockchain technology and its potential for the future.
Wozniak’s main criticism of the current state of blockchain technology and related services, such as cryptocurrencies, is that they are in a bubble phase similar to that experienced by Internet technologies and companies.
During the dotcom bubble, the excitement surrounding the obvious potential of Internet technologies led to many foolish investments and soaring valuations for Internet companies that offered little in the way of tangible products and services.
The result was an unsurprising bust that saw many first generation Internet companies wiped out and billions in investor value destroyed.
However, and as Wozniak noted in his speeches, from the ashes of the dotcom bubble came the incredibly successful Internet technologies of today, such as Google and Facebook, which have transformed how billions of people live their lives and communicate with one another.
Therefore, the comparison between blockchain technology and the early Internet era is not necessarily a bad one, it just means that Wozniak believes many of the current first generation blockchain companies will prove to be the product of hype and fad more than a concrete and useful application of the technology.
However, once this initial bubble phase passes, the next generation of blockchain companies are likely to thrive like modern Internet companies have.
Diamonds in the Rough
In particular Wozniak singled out Ethereum, one of the largest cryptocurrencies, as a well-designed tool that was likely to survive and thrive far into the future.
Wozniak believes that Ethereum’s capacity to act as a platform for transactions that developers can build upon means that it is the most likely cryptocurrency to be widely adopted by institutions.
Wozniak compared Ethereum’s platform to Apple’s now famous platform, suggesting that it could become as big in cryptocurrency as Apple is in computing and software.
Current State of Blockchain
Wozniak repeatedly suggested that the problems with blockchain stem from its current infancy phase, including decentralization and untrustworthiness.
These are natural problems that occur with new technologies during their infancy phase, when the technology is dominated by a small number of technically-minded people with little oversight from the public or governments.
During this stage the limits of what a technology can do and how it will affect the laws and rules of a society are felt out, and only after the rough edges have been polished is the technology ready for widespread acceptance and mass consumption.
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are going through just such a process, including many high profile thefts and hacks and worldwide government crackdowns.
Therefore, according to Wozniak, right now may not be the best time for blockchain. However, once this initial stage is finished, the true impact of blockchain and cryptocurrencies on society will be felt.
Words of a Technology Guru
Wozniak’s opinion on blockchain and cryptocurrencies carries such weight because of his legendary status in the technology community as the co-founder of Apple.
Apple has been a transformative force in the world of technology since its inception, making Wozniak someone who people look to for guidance on the large themes shaping the future of technology.
Having experienced the highs and lows of the dotcom bubble first hand, Wozniak is well-positioned to suggest parallels between what happened then and what is happening now with blockchain technology.
Only time will tell if his suggestion that blockchain and cryptocurrencies are currently in a bubble is true.
However, his favorable views on Ethereum have certainly made their mark in the cryptocurrency community, and the future of Ethereum will likely be decided within the next few years offering a glimpse of Wozniak’s forecasting ability.