During a question and answer session at the Swell by Ripple Conference in San Francisco yesterday, former U.S. President Bill Clinton discussed his presidency, government’s role in preventing financial and other disasters, and aspects of the current cryptocurrency and blockchain revolution. Clinton praised blockchain’s potential benefits but cautioned that those benefits could be lost due to divisiveness and bad policies:
"This whole blockchain deal has the potential it does only because it is applicable across national borders [and] income groups. The permutations and possibilities are staggeringly great. We could ruin it all by negative identity politics and economic and social policy. You think about that.”
Clinton highlighted a number of concerns, including the possibility that the industry might move too fast. He suggested that rapid growth and advancements in areas like blockchain technology, robotics, and artificial intelligence could increase social inequality in unexpected ways, including between nations in the developed world and emerging economies.
According to The Street, Clinton cited his own experience dealing with the challenges presented by the emerging internet in the 1990s. His administration took a largely hands-off approach to the new industry by focusing its attention on illicit actors. Clinton suggested that’s where government’s primary focus should be: addressing bad actors in a way that doesn’t discourage innovation or economic growth.
"You don't want consumer fraud, you don't want to finance criminal enterprises, and you certainly don't want to make it easier to pull off severe attacks by terrorists. That's the challenge of each new technology."