John Oliver explains bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, tries to make shunning them equally exciting

Keegan-Michael Key and John Oliver hype shunning cryptocurrencies
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Last Week Tonight)

"It is dangerous to make predictions about where tech is going," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, citing the deflated excitement over Google Glass. That was his caveat in discussing cryptocurrencies, or "everything you don't understand about money combined with everything you don't understand about computers." Even though bitcoin's value has plummeted by nearly half from its astronomical valuation at the end of 2017, "there is still a cryptocurrency fervor going on," he said.

"So with all this excitement and curiosity, we thought we'd try and explain a few things tonight," Oliver said: "Bitcoin, blockchain — the technology that allows it to exist — and cryptocurrencies in general." Like any currency, bitcoin has value because people believe it has value, but there are still some kinks to work out. For example, he said, "a bitcoin conference stopped taking bitcoin, which is a red flag, since that's the one place you'd think it would be accepted. It's like when I tried to pay for access to the Republican National Convention using Ronald Reagan's dusty skeleton bones — everyone there agreed they had value, there just wasn't an adequate network in place for the completion of our transaction."

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.