They may not have the fighting physiques to warrant a pay-per-view licence but the Bitcoin debate between hedge fund manager Erik Townsend and Adamant Research editor Tuur Demester is an intellectual battle worth paying for.
Thanks to The Investing Podcast the face-off is scheduled for release this weekend in the latest episode.
In the Bitcoin corner is Demester, a Dutch economist, investor and Bitcoin maximalist who believes it is both the new digital gold and cash. Last year he had a brief sparring session with Ethereum creator Vitalik Beuterin in a critique of Beuterin’s “A proof of stake design philosophy” where he took aim at the inherent flaws in the proof of stake concept. Demester is a crusader for Bitcoin’s proof of work (PoW) methodology and isn’t phased by issues around its scalability.
PoW: Proof of a waste of time?
Erik Townsend is founder and CEO of global macro hedge fund Fourth Turning Capital, who in a former life was a technology entrepreneur who sold his business just before the peak of the Dotcom boom in 1998. No stranger to high level debate on his own brilliant podcast, Macro Voices, Townsend brings a unique perspective to cryptocurrencies and blockchain as a macro investor and as a computer scientist in the pioneering days of distributed systems.
But he is so bearish of Bitcoin’s future that he has been loathe to talk at length about the digital asset and its current “idiotic mania that I don’t want to waste any air time on it.”
He views Bitcoin and its blockchain in two seemingly conflicting ways: the distributed ledger technology pioneered by Bitcoin is “one of the most profound technological advancements of our time”, but its design flaws mean that it will never be suitable for widespread use as it was only ever intended “as a proof of concept laboratory experiment.”
Bitcoin is analogous to the Wright brothers first plane the Wright Flyer: a revolutionary breakthrough in the industry but only intended for use for demonstrative purposes.
In stark contrast to Demester, Townsend believes Bitcoin’s greatest flaw is its proof of work concept where he thinks miners are in a contest to prove they have wasted the most electricity and computational capacity in less time than anyone else in the contest.