HomeArticlesWHAT IS CRYPTOCURRENCY? with Grace Helbig & Mamrie Hart
WHAT IS CRYPTOCURRENCY? with Grace Helbig & Mamrie Hart
December 3, 2019
The first generation of adopters were people that just wanted
[Mamrie’s stomach growls] to own their own, like assets and just have control. What just happened?
– I’m sorry. Your stomach made noise. My stomach made such a noise, and I heard our sound man go… Mamrie: Sorry. I heard it, too.
– I’m so sorry. Jackson: No, it’s totally OK. It got me. Yeah, your stomach went “Bitcoiiiiinnn.” Look who it is!
– It’s you! Welcome back! I’m Mamrie. I’m Grace, and today we are talking about something Mamrie and I truly know nothing about. It’s cryptocurrency! What is cryptocurrency, and why do I give a [expletive deleted]? I think it has an association… This is always “I’m about to learn you somethin’.” This is “I’m a claw machine that’s gonna grab knowledge right now.” OK, if you had to try to describe it to someone, what would you say it is? I had a teacher once who would give us, like, reward points if we did good things. And then we could, like, trade them in for stickers. Is that cryptocurrency? Basically, that’s my understanding of it, yeah. I’ve heard it associated with, like, Beanie Babies. Are we teaching ourselves? Do we need our expert? Maybe we’re, like, just now… We need an expert. Let’s bring in an expert. Let’s do it sooner than later. Jackson Finio, get in here! Wheeee! Welcome! Welcome!
– Thank you. Thanks for joining us, Jackson. I want to apologize in advance for how dumb we are at this. Also you have what looks like an expensive watch, so I would assume that you would know a lot about Bitcoin. So I’m the CEO of Fund3.
– Uh huh. We build algorithms that try to predict crypto prices in the future. That’s just a bunch of words. Wait, so you guys try to predict Uh…
Uh… What, how Bitcoin is going to be evaluated, like Uh…
Uh… monetarily? We use, like, AI — machine learning — to try to… Nope, I’m out. She *hates* AI. I love “Westworld,” hate AI. How did you get started in this work? Yeah, because it’s a relatively new thing, right? And it’s fake, right? I’m an engineer by trade. Computer science. I was studying computer science, working at various jobs. [I] got introduced to another technology that I’m sure we’ll get into later called blockchain. [silently] WTF?
And that led to kind of a lot of “aha!” moments for me, and that’s the idea that I wanted to explore the space further. Has all of your education prepared you today for teaching two of the dumbest women on the planet, what this… what I think is Mario Brothers money? She *really* thinks you only get Bitcoin by, like, [Mario Brothers ding sound]
popping your head into bricks. I’ve literally been jumping in sewers for the last, like, two months trying to get that Bitcoin. Let’s move to our education spot! Jackson. first of all, I hope you don’t mind. My associate wanted to sit in on this meeting to see if it’s something we might want to invest in. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I was wondering, what the [expletive deleted] is Bitcoin? So, Bitcoin is a decentralized, peer-to-peer, digital asset, powered by blockchain technology. If we could, yeah, breaking down any concept I think is the best thing. Is this an acronym? Yeah, so first we’ll start with blockchain. The blockchain is really simple. It’s just a ledger. The nuance of the blockchain is it makes it really easy to tell if a transaction has been altered with, and really difficult to actually alter the transaction itself. OK, I heard that blockchain, like Mamrie’s panties, are impenetrable. You cannot…
– You heard *very* incorrect! So that… that’s kind of the one of the key aspects of crypto generally is the security. It makes it really difficult to go in and alter the history. See, so far, I’m liking this. A: Because you can’t lose Bitcoin, and I am the queen of losing wallets. If I had a nickel for every time… If I had a Bitcoin for every time I had to go with Mamrie to get a new debit card ’cause she left it at the bar the night before, I’d be a billionaire! I’m gonna have to stop you right there, though, because it is actually…
Mamrie: [some weird noise] It’s actually really easy to lose Bitcoin, for just the average user at this point. And that’s kind of one of the reasons why it’s harder to use for the everyday person. When you send a letter, you write somebody’s address on it, and then the post office takes it to that address. But, at that address, you need your key to open the door, to receive your mail, right? But if you lose your key, you’re locked out. In real life, it’s really easy to go to locksmith and say, “Hey, I own this address, I own this home. Can I get a new key? I have to get in.” But if you lose your lock… If you lose your key in Bitcoin, that’s gone forever, and you’re never gonna be able to get it back. Question: Are we talking about an actual key? Yeah, so this is… this is where we get into cryptography, and I don’t know if we want to go down that rabbit hole. Both: [various noises] [laughing off-camera] Wait, so my question is: Is Bitcoin [together] Grace: physical?
– Mamrie: tangible? Is it Monopoly… like, can I touch it? Can I put it in a wallet? Can I make it rain with Bitcoin? Do you use Venmo? Mamrie: Yes.
Grace: No, because I don’t trust the government. I do because I like to send friends money, and then say “for doin’ it.” So, it’s a digital representation of… of an asset, right? In the same way, like, when you’re sending and receiving money via Venmo, it’s all digital. You can kind of withdraw that, and then it turns into cash. But with Bitcoin, it’s all digital. You can’t redeem it for… So, like, Scrooge McDuck couldn’t jump into a pool of Bitcoin.
Jackson: No. Is this this symbol for Bitcoin? Jackson: Yeah.
Mamrie: It looks gangsta. It’s a very poorly-drawn symbol but yes. Grace: It looks like a dollar sign Jackson: With a “B” Jackson: We got really…
[together] Jackson: creative.
Grace: basic. Do you want to be the first person on a Bitcoin? [gasp] Is there a person on a Bitcoin? I’ll vote for you. There’s no one on a Bitcoin. It’s actually for a good reason. The purpose of Bitcoin is that it’s not owned by anyone, right. No one. The only influence on Bitcoin is the community. We as a community come to consensus, about the rules that govern this network. “Decentralized”? Is that the word? It’s owned by the community, exactly.
– OK. It’s decentralized, so everyone owns… kind of has their own say. We shouldn’t trust banks to make all these financial decisions for us. We’re anarchists. You guys… If… If… Mamrie: you control
Grace: what the value is of a Bitcoin, Mamrie: then why does it, go, inflate? We don’t control the value. The market controls the value, right. “The market” is this kind of a blanket term, right. But it’s just… A market is any place where people congregate, and buy and sell things. Jackson: Who decides how much a tomato costs? Who does?! No, it’s just supply and demand, right. Grace: I want to know!
Jackson: X amount of tomatoes are produced every year, and if there’s too many tomatoes produced, then the price goes down, right. There’s excess supply. Is there a finite amount of Bitcoin in the world? Jackson: Yes, and that’s…
Mamrie: You can’t, like, product more Bitcoin. Jackson: Absolutely…
Grace: It’s like you and us. “You and us”? Me and all the voices in my head. There’s only ever gonna be 21 million Bitcoins Jackson: ever created.
Mamrie: Ever! But what if, like, everybody, wanted to get in on it? Are you guys like, “Mmm, mmm, mmm. You’re not invited”? And that’s a key misconception about Bitcoin is that you have to own a whole Bitcoin. it’s divisible down to, you know, 10^-8. How do you get a Bitcoin? Jackson: So, you go to an exchange or a marketplace, where you can buy and sell them. These are online. Not physical… I mean, actually, there are physical locations, where you could go and say, you know, “Oh, you own Bitcoin, I want some. Can I have 3?” I say, “Oh, well, give me 15 grand for, you know, each Bitcoin, and then…” Bitcoin’s marijuana. We just found out. Mmmm. So then, how are people making millions of dollars off of Bitcoin? Thank you. This is what I’d like to know. Yeah, so Bitcoin was created a long time ago… By Frederick Bitcoin. No! It’s actually in my notes. They don’t know who created Bitcoin. Exactly, but that’s that’s kind of a key aspect, right. It’s not owned by anyone, so should we even know who created it? Banksy. Jackson: This guy, this kind of anonymous person who, or a group of people, were, you know, published a white paper. Kind of the original called “The Constitution of Bitcoin,” right. And then, after a while, things started progressing. New developers, new engineers started contributing to the project to the point where this person or group of people just kind of stepped away from the project, and let it… you know, let it develop on its own. Like, how do we all get together and make a decision? Do you guys have like a group text? We couldn’t even figure out what to get for lunch today.
– Yeah. If every one of us was a separate node in the system, we would each hold a copy of the entire history of Bitcoin, right. All of the transactions that have ever taken place. So if one of us became a bad actor or just, you know, a bad person… Yeah, we’re already there. He read us for filth. The rest of the network would see that you guys are kind of trying to make changes that the rest of us don’t agree to, and we would just ignore whatever you’re doing. We say, “Yeah, you can go do whatever you want, we believe in our rules, so we’re gonna continue over here.” And that’s just… that’s part
Grace: Group consensus. Right, and that’s part of the security, too, right. If you guys… If your nodes get hacked, then we can understand that those nodes are acting differently, and kind of just ignore what’s going on in this area. So you shun people? This is very “Bring It On.” And “Lord of the Flies.” This is not a Bitcoinocracy. You’re the Kirsten Dunst of Bitcoin. I’d rather be Spider-Man but I can settle for that. [together] Oh, OK. I think this can be a long episode.
– Me too. Because I’m fascinated. I have a couple more questions.
Jackson: Please. Keep ’em coming. Goldfine: I can’t believe he hasn’t gotten up and left. I got… YouTube, I don’t what the [bleep] is happening with it. I need a back-up plan.
– Yeah. This is the one that I’ve actually heard about Bitcoin, is that someone bought a pizza with Bitcoin forever ago, and now that pizza would’ve been worth, like, millions of dollars. I don’t know how true this is, but it says 10,000 Bitcoin was the first purchase of the pizza, and that was $41. That’s a pricey-ass pizza! I hope it was a thin-crust Neapolitan in wood-fire oven. What’s a Neapolitan pizza? That’s an ice cream. No no no, it’s also a type of pizza. Jackson: It is, actually. We gotta… we’ll take this offline.
– OK, different episode. That 10,000 Bitcoin is worth around $25.8 million. Mama mia! Have you noticed, or has the community noticed, any sort of, like, rise in hacking of people’s, like, keys? To try and get their information to get into the game? We’ve actually reinstituted third parties into the system in the form of exchanges and wallet providers. And these third parties are just as vulnerable as a bank. Like, if you think about the wild west, those banks were getting robbed all the time, right. They were putting gold on trains, and cowboys riding up and stealing the gold. These, you know, the… the banks, these exchanges, and wallet providers aren’t as secure. [deep voice] It’s the wild wild west. You can… there’s levels to that security, where you can really secure your own assets. But there… it gets more and more technical as you… as you kind of gain more and more ownership of those… of those assets. So you get to basically put on your own security measures?
Jackson: Right. So I could say, like, “You gotta do this dance to get into my key.” I mean I would love it. They would never know. It’s the Macarena. Oh, I knew it. Would you recommend people… learning more about Bitcoin and getting into it, or would you be like, “No, I want it all for myself. No one learn anything about it.”
– Good question. You know, I think I would really encourage people to just understand more about the financial system as a whole, and if that leads you to cryptocurrency, then, you know, there’s plenty of people who are a very open community that is ready and willing to educate whenever… whenever there’s interest. Well I got $20 [laughs off-camera] Grace: Humble brag.
Mamrie: that I’d like for you to help me turn into $40 million. I’m assuming that’s how it works. No, but thank you so much for coming and teaching us about it.
Jackson: Absolutely. I know I looked like I’d just been hit by a bus for most of it, but i retained a little.
– Yeah. Well, I mean, we can figure out if we’ve retained a little if he quizzes us.
– Oh, crap! Let’s do it! Quiz time! #1: What is a blockchain? Grace: It’s a Heath Ledger. [buzzer] [I can’t figure out how to transcribe this part, sorry.] [I tried for like 5 minutes.] [Lots of random rambling.] [OK, back to normal now.] Who owns Bitcoin? Nobody. The people! [ding] Yeah! Also, Banksy. Where do you store crypto? In your… [together] wallet. Your digital wallet. [ding] Your home! Your home address! In the cloud! Yeah, you guys are killing it. Yeaaaaahhhh! You owe me $40 million. Jackson, everybody! Thank you so much for being here! Grace, who do we have a gratitude problem with today? Today, it is kcostely94 on Instagram. They drew this photo of us in our “This Might Get” signature mouth. Ooo, I love it! We look adorable, and we’re both doing the mouth that is the shape of our icon mouth. [deep voice] Inception! Inception! Thank you so much for making this art, and if you guys want to be part of Gratitude Problem, tag us on Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, all your social media @thismightget. And subscribe to this YouTube channel. Click that bell notification so you know when we upload videos. Spoiler alert: It’s Monday through Friday at 3:30 AM Pacific Standard Time, unless we change it. Pay attention. Hit that bell. I need to ice my brain after learning so much in this episode. Grace: I didn’t learn anything.