back to article Cryptocurrencies kill people and may kill again, says Bill Gates

Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has labelled cryptocurrencies "a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way". Gates' remarks were made in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session that featured the question "What's your opinion on Crypto Currencies?" Gates' full answer was: "The main feature of …

  1. Oengus

    Worst argument ever

    Right now crypto currencies are used for buying fentanyl and other drugs so it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way.

    Right now American Dollars are used for buying Guns and Ammunition so it is a rare technology common thing that has caused deaths in a fairly very direct way. I will also bet that American Dollars have also been used to buy fentanyl and other drugs as well.

    1. Olivier2553

      Re: Worst argument ever

      And buy cigarettes that cause your death by cancer and buy alcohol that cause you kill others when you DUI...

      Oh I bet you can also rent an hitman with USD

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Worst argument ever

        Then we should ban money. Problem solved.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Worst argument ever

          Then we should ban money. Problem solved.

          Or at least ban Bill Gates.

      2. Primus Secundus Tertius

        Re: Worst argument ever

        "...an hitman..."

        How tasteful!

        1. Kernel

          Re: Worst argument ever

          "...an hitman..."

          How tasteful!'

          Indeed - it should be 'hitperson' now days.

      3. LucreLout

        Re: Worst argument ever

        Oh I bet you can also rent an hitman with USD

        I'm pretty sure that's actually a lot harder to achieve than most people think, whether you use USD, or Crypto.

        Sure, you can probably find a crack addict who'll kill someone for a few hundred bucks, but they'll probably also tell the police all about you when they get caught. An actual professional hitman is probably a very rare thing indeed. Most people will end up renting an undercover FBI agent, or similar.

    2. Mat

      Re: Worst argument ever

      Is it not the case that though it is much harder to buy 'illegal' stuff with money (particularly electronically as traceability etc. It has to come from an account that you 'usually' need to provide ID to open)

      The guns argument is a bit of a strawman as most guns that cause death in 'Murica™ are legally owned. It is just the retarded nature that they are allowed to be owned.

      It is generally more difficult to get hold of illegal stuff with cash as you have to actually hand it over in person to receive the goods I don't think that major drug purchases are done by post - for a start, the postal cost for a briefcase of money would be pretty high! whereas crypto is just a click of a mouse with zero traceability.

      So whilst, not an amazing argument, it is not the 'worst argument ever'

      1. MonkeyCee

        Re: Worst argument ever

        "Is it not the case that though it is much harder to buy 'illegal' stuff with money"

        Nope. In the exact same way that legal transactions can be settled with cash, same applies for illegal ones. I very much doubt the street dealers around here will accept a crypto transaction, I'm reliably informed that they do take euros, dollars and even pounds.

        "It is generally more difficult to get hold of illegal stuff with cash as you have to actually hand it over in person to receive the goods I don't think that major drug purchases are done by post - for a start, the postal cost for a briefcase of money would be pretty high! whereas crypto is just a click of a mouse with zero traceability."

        With the exception of deliberately obscured crypto currencies (eg Monero) crypto is considerably more traceable than fiat. You can do it without needing any special technology or legal recourse, wheras most bank details will require some level of justification from the appropriate authorities, and are not available to the general public.

        In fact letters and parcels are about as easy to track too, which is how those drugs-by-post dealers get busted. They are not getting busted by tracking their transactions. That comes later, when you've been convicted, and the government says "please provide evidence that these assets have been legally acquired" and seizes everything that you don't provide evidence for.

        "So whilst, not an amazing argument, it is not the 'worst argument ever'"

        It's a crap argument. A guy with billions of dollars insists other currencies are used for bad things, but their own currency is only used for love and happiness.

        I put it to you that more people have dies of opiate overdoses in the USA that where purchased with USD than people who have dies from purchasing it with crypto. People have been buying opiates with USD for several hundred years, as compared to ~10 with crypto. Thus for crypto deaths to have been even equal, they would need to cover 93% of sales of opiates.

    3. artem

      Re: Worst argument ever

      Fucking spot on.

      Also, unlike Bitcoin, cash is completely untraceable. Bitcoin is anonymous but it's quite trivially traceable. To buy illegal stuff, it's much safer to use cash, Mr. Gates. Just make sure you don't leave your fingertips.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Worst argument ever

        There's been attempts at untraceable crypto-currencies but the maths is beyond me:

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zcash

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-interactive_zero-knowledge_proof

      2. Alister

        Re: Worst argument ever

        cash is completely untraceable.

        Not true. Each bill has a unique serial number which can be traced back to where you got it from, be that an ATM, or a bank teller, or a supermarket cash-back or whatever.

        It's not easy, but it's not completely untraceable.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Worst argument ever

          > Each bill has a unique serial number which can be traced back to where you got it from, be that an ATM, or a bank teller, or a supermarket cash-back or whatever.

          That doesn't work if I get my cash from change or cashback in the pub. A lot of that cash will have been placed in the till from tradesmen, who in turn will have got it from middle class customers who will have withdrawn it from an ATM in Waitrose.

          Obviously I'll have to up my drinking a little bit if I want to finance the importation of a tonne of cocaine or a small war by this method.

        2. Unicornpiss
          Meh

          Re: Worst argument ever

          "Not true. Each bill has a unique serial number which can be traced back to where you got it from, be that an ATM, or a bank teller, or a supermarket cash-back or whatever."

          Does anyone record the serial numbers of bills that go into ATMs? Where I live, whoever stocks the ATMs with cash can't even be bothered to have all the bills facing the same way.

          I would personally think that both currencies are somewhat traceable, but in different ways. Eg, you rob a bank, it's likely the bank has the serial numbers recorded, but money used to do nefarious things is intentionally off the record. With cryptocurrency, while the end result is probably hard to trace, someone had to dump in enough seed money from a bank account, credit card, etc. to generate their BitCoin or whatever, and that is certainly going to be a noticeable red flag.

        3. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Worst argument ever

          "Not true. Each bill has a unique serial number which can be traced back to where you got it from, be that an ATM, or a bank teller, or a supermarket cash-back or whatever."

          Do ATMs actually keep records of the serial numbers of notes they spit out? I don't think so. Shops definitely don't.

        4. ciderbuddy

          Re: Worst argument ever

          The Yorkshire Ripper was nearly caught due to tracing a £5 note he left on a victim's body back to his company's payroll. It was only because some dimwit Geordie made a fake confession tape that the focus was shifted.

          http://www.execulink.com/~kbrannen/fivenote.htm

    4. naive

      Re: Worst argument ever

      >> "The main feature of crypto currencies is their anonymity. I don't think this is a good thing.

      >> The Governments ability to find money laundering and tax evasion and terrorist funding is a good thing.

      It is always funny to hear such slithering wormtongues speak.

      Of course crypto currencies are bad. Tax evasion is only a God given right for Global mega corps paying gazillions of "intellectual property licences" to some mailbox in the Caribbean, not for John Doe.

    5. Bigg Phill

      Re: Worst argument ever

      Well done

      Comparing an illegal cryptocurrency transaction with a legal cash one is indeed the "worst argument ever" so your title is correct.

      Plus cash is pretty easy to trace to the criminal if it's in their possession when you arrest them or they leave their DNA on it. Have you seriously never heard of marked bills?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guns don't kill people, rappers do.

    1. SuccessCase

      There is a connection in a fairly direct way between rapping and wanting to cause the death of rappers.

    2. BongoJoe

      Guns don't kill people, rappers Kinder Eggs do .

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I thought it was rabbits but that may be my hearing.

        1. Evil Auditor

          Killer rabbits of Caerbannog do. Anyhow, I thought that shooter games kill people.

    3. 's water music

      Guns don't kill people, rappers do.

      It's the truth man, his mother have actually got a penis.

    4. Ralph76

      yeah, I head that - on a documentary, on BBC2..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        but the mother with a penis documentary is on channel 5 in case anyone was wondering.

  3. hplasm
    Coat

    MS have it covered already!

    "Microsoft is making large investments in quantum - particularly in handling the error problems that most approaches have."

    Error: An Unknown Problem Has Been Detected.

    They saw this coming years ago! Awesome!

  4. Nick Kew
    Windows

    Suddenly, all is revealed!

    So that's the reason for Windows's long history of Not Working, and of subverting other systems by disrupting the standards that enable us to communicate.

    They've been fighting a rearguard action all along, to protect us from buying dangerous things!

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Suddenly, all is revealed!

      yeah, but I don't need "big nanny micro-shaft" determining what's best for me. Their attitude with respect to Win-10-nic is bad enough...

  5. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Pint

    Never.....

    Trust a man who doesn't like one of these ->

    1. Bob Wheeler

      Re: Never.....

      @Zog

      You know this does explain an awful lot.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bill says cryptocash bad m'kay

    It is odd that they wheeled Bill out for this when he could have come out for so many other things .

    Perhaps the 1%ers are worried that they will loose control of the US+world if paper money is recognised as being, well, paper money

    Now, if the Dollar was a crypto currency then every $ would be tracable, perhaps becoming accountable for their actions is what they are really worried about.

  7. wolfetone Silver badge

    Didn't they say Microsoft Powerpoint contributed to the death of the Columbia astronaughts?

    1. LucreLout

      Didn't they say Microsoft Powerpoint contributed to the death of the Columbia astronaughts?

      I don't know about that, but its definitely killed off all signs of intelligent life in the middle manager community.

    2. DavCrav

      "Didn't they say Microsoft Powerpoint contributed to the death of the Columbia astronaughts [sic]?"

      Not unless we are also going to blame the manufacturers of the pencils that they used to write down equations as well.

  8. AJ MacLeod

    Tabs Vs Spaces

    Learning that Bill Gates uses tabs is the very first thing that has ever made me question whether I've been right in doing so all these years. Then I realised that it just goes to prove that nobody can be wrong on everything...

    1. DavCrav

      Re: Tabs Vs Spaces

      "Then I realised that it just goes to prove that nobody can be wrong on everything..."

      He's also not a fan of malaria.

      1. jelabarre59

        Re: Tabs Vs Spaces

        He's also not a fan of malaria.

        I don't know, they were an OK band...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's right

    As a big fan of cryto currency i agree with Bill.

    It is still in its infancy and the lack of accountability (not traceability) is a factor of it's source as non government. In time it will be regulated.

    We only have faces on our coins due to the same problem of regulation of currency a couple of thousand years ago.

    Yes it has been spent on bad things, but not sure how that is relevant to a currency, it's not the currency's fault*

    *Well except for the new altcoin coming from a Leeds hash dealer, called Tick

  10. Paul

    they didn't get to ask what he thought about languages where whitespace was part of the code?

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      languages where whitespace was part of the code?

      Work of the Devil. No problem for modern IDEs, but, take it out of there/print it/transform it, then things break.

  11. Ralph76

    what a load of tosh

    I cannot believe an, allegedly, intelligent man can be so short sighted - unless he has been misquoted of course!

    So if weapons and drug manufacturers accepted water as payment, would we ban that too? or how about using magic beans as a currency..

    The key here Bill, is to regulate the f***ing people SELLING it, not the currencies that are in circulation. If BAE and the like did not operate so nefariously with who they are willing to sell to, it would cut down an awful lot of issues, immediately.

  12. Eddy Ito

    Sometimes Bill doesn't think things through. I would think he was aware that all these deeds were performed long before cryptocash was conceived. Go back far enough and you'll probably find someone bartering chickens for drugs and that's after stealing the chicken having killed the original owner. I do agree that ICOs can be risky however but then so can crossing the street.

  13. sisk

    From his comments here I think Gates has gotten all his knowledge of cyptocurrencies from mainstream media. The fact of the matter is that cryptocurrencies are far easier to track than cash transactions, or even transactions using foreign (to whatever nation in question) banks. And all his arguments against cryptocurrency can be much more directly applied to cash transactions.

  14. hellwig

    Tabs?

    When I code I use tabs because you want the columns to line up,

    What does that even mean? Even Microsoft's IDEs can line-up code based on context. It can align your variables in a multi-line declaration, align values in a table, etc...

    A Tab is just a variable-width space (but a constant width across the document). So what's the difference between inserting one tab or 2/3/4 spaces? If you don't keep the white-space at the beginning of lines consistent, it doesn't matter which you use. So consistency is key. I like spaces because they DON'T get f-ed up when you open them in a different editor. If you use 2-space tabs and a coworker uses 8-space tabs, after a couple levels in indentation, your co-worker's gonna need an ultra-wide display to view your code.

    So I guess if you're writing code in Wordpad (I had a professor in high school that did that), keep using tabs.

    Otherwise, if an IDE is smart enough to figure out Python, it will easily insert spaces into more-sensically laid-out languages.

    1. AJ MacLeod

      Re: Tabs?

      If your editor doesn't have a trivially simply function to change the width of tabs on the fly, I'd argue that it's broken. (e.g. :set ts=5)

      One tab always produces the correct spacing, whereas it's very easy to insert the wrong number of spaces (and a mistaken extra tab press is much easier to notice.)

  15. IGnatius T Foobar

    Gates?

    I'm not quite sure why anyone should care what Bill Gates thinks about cryptocurrency. Gates is not, and has never been, a visionary. This is the same guy who said that the Internet would never be a big deal.

  16. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Well Mr Gates it appears the local dealer near me didn't want to be dealing with crypto currencies, just read in the local paper that he was found with £245,000 in cash stuffed in the bottom of his wardrobe. So it appears cash is still king with criminals for now.

  17. jelabarre59

    mining

    He's just pissed that MSWindows is shit for mining bitcoins...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Abusus non tollit usum.

    There is a legal aphorism "Abusus non tollit usum" - which is abuse does not take away from legitimate use. Yes, cryptocurrencies can be used to do bad things, but so can Microsoft products.

    Radiation can be used to kill, but it is also therapeutic.

    What has to be established is the harms caused by cryptocurrencies far outweigh the good, and the good can be obtained in another way. The object raised is that the cold monster of the state wants to be able to see everything that is done.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "vision and speech are solved"?

    WTF is Gates smoking? It wasn't that long ago a Tesla plowed into a fire truck at full speed because it couldn't "see" it, and those of us who talk to phones, smart devices, IVR systems etc. know how fallible that is.

    I agree with him that understanding text is a holy grail, because that will make speech recognition actually useful, instead of just a gimmick to tell your phone or whatever to do a simple task you could do yourself in a few seconds.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Coffee/keyboard

    Whoopsies, Softwae kills people, AI kills people, greed kills people

    "Ask ME Anything" - Bill:

    Q1: in your effort to stop Multi Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDRTB) did you visit Papua New Guinea, they're having a bad time of it and if it spreads it may find it's way to Hawaii, as it has already made landfall in here in Australia.

    Q2: Why did you only deal with small part of the world re MDRTB,, not the whole of it?

    A:?

  21. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    Pay MPs Expenses in Bitcoin

    I'll gotten gains...

  22. Roberto Sumatra-Bosch - The Falcon of the Laurentians

    No modern economy is worthy of the name that is not mediated by a currency backed by hysteria that can lose all of its value for any reason or no reason.

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