Tim Berners-Lee said cryptocurrency is little more than gambling, and has said that "it's a shame" the Web3 name was taken by the digital assets industry.
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The man credited with inventing the world wide web that the vast majority of the Internet exists on took aim at crypto last week, saying that it's "really dangerous."
Speaking on CNBC's Beyond the Valley podcast on Feb. 17, Tim Berners-Lee, compared cryptocurrency to the Internet's hype-filled dot-com stock bubble of the late 1990s through 2001. He said:
"It's only speculative. Obviously, that's really dangerous."
Crypto is for people who "want to have a kick out of gambling, basically," he added. "Investing in certain things, which is purely speculative, isn't… where I want to spend my time."
Berners-Lee did suggest that crypto could be useful in making the remittances migrant workers send home to developing countries far cheaper and more efficient — a low-hanging fruit for blockchain that more than a few crypto companies are pursuing. But he added, the crypto should be exchanged for fiat right away
Web3 vs. Web 3.0
Berners-Lee has also taken exception to the crypto industry's use of the term "Web3" which is a very amorphous version of the future of the Web built on a blockchain framework. It would, in theory, allow users to take control of their personal identities back from giant tech corporations.
While it has become very popular with mainstream marketers, it remains minimally defined.
In November, he said it was "a real shame in fact that the actual Web3 name was taken by Ethereum folks for the stuff that they're doing with blockchain."
Instead he focused on what he called Web 3.0, a non-blockchain version of a future web also focused on users maintaining control of their personal data.
Calling blockchain too slow, expensive and public for the job, he said:
"Web3 is not the web at all."
The NFT Bandwagon
None of which stopped him from raising $5.4 million auctioning off a series of NFTs containing the source code of the world wide web at Sotheby's in June 2021, as the crypto bubble was expanding. The funds were earmarked for charities and initiatives Berners-Lee and his wife supported, Sotheby's said.
Talking about the "spirit of collaboration" the web created, Berners-Lee said at the time:
"NFTs, be they artworks or a digital artifact like this, are the latest playful creations in this realm, and the most appropriate means of ownership that exists. They are the ideal way to package the origins behind the web."
Picture courtesy of Jarle Naustvik.