Is Satoshi Nakamoto Alive and Writing a Book?

Siamak Masnavi
  • 30 Jun 2018
  • /
  • 2289 views
  • /
  • In #Bitcoin

A post purporting to be from the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, has surfaced, in which the author claims to be planning a two-part book and provides an excerpt in order to answer some commonly asked questions about Bitcoin.

The post, which is dated 29 June 2018, appears on a website called "Nakamoto Family Foundation" and makes two key points:

  • There is "no guarantee the book will ever come to be" and that it is "currently just a possibility for now."
  • An excerpt from the book has been provided in order to provide a "brief glimpse of history" as well as answers to "most brought up questions" about the origin of Bitcoin.

Here are a few passages from the excerpt:

  • "The principles for bitcoin originated from the cypherpunks, a community I naturally gravitated to as a fourteen year old, a place where anonymity was as fundamental as breathing, where in order for genuine freedom of speech to exist in an open society one had to be able to fully and anonymously express themselves."
  • "Satoshi Nakamoto is not a real name. Specifically, not a legal name. It is primarily the essence of thoughts and reason. I wanted the most common name, which I knew no one outside of Japan had any recollection that Satoshi Nakamoto, was the equivalent of 'John Smith.'"
  • "In April of 2009 is when Mike Hearn first emailed asking about the project. For all intents and purposes, Mike appeared to me as someone who knew what he was talking about but nonetheless was eager to learn new things. His curiosity piqued me as someone inquisitive, asking me whether bitcoin was based on one 'global chain' or many, which now most would refer to as the 'blockchain.' I pointed out how it was all part of one global chain, with all blocks forming part of that chain."
  • "I don't think anyone knows this, but the word blockchain did not come into play until after the fact. Prebitcoin, it was referred to as, the timechain. That is because it wasn't about the blocks in the beginning, but rather about time, specifically the precise intervals of time upon which the blocks were released. Before they became hardcoded to the rest of the chain. In the finalized version, version 2, this was changed to blockchain as it became more obvious to me that blocks were the underlying element linked in the chain, not only through time. That is how the public would perceive it at least. You see, Bitcoin, the one you see, the one you have bought or sold coins from, is actually, version 2. Similarly, the word fork didn't come into play until after the fact either, prebitcoin this was called the branch point."
  • "Mike also brought up issues of scaling, and in reference to his concerns, I used the example of the Visa network, which at the time handled 15 million transactions a day (now handles roughly ten times that). Bitcoin was already able to scale much larger than this. Or so I thought."
  • "Why did it succeed? I attribute it to a few factors. I view the fact that something like the blockchain, which had already been done in a similar fashion but without much fanfare, was not the prime reason, rather it was because of the very nature and premise of bitcoin. Here, for once, was this idea that you could generate your own form of money. That's the primary and sole reason, is because it was related to this thing called money. It wasn't about the profficiency of the code or the novelty, it was because it had to do with money. It centered around money. That is something people cared about."
  • "Mike was one of the few individuals who saw the likelihood of ASICS (application specific integrated circuits) and he had smartly anticipated the possibility, as did I, of specialized hardware eventually being used to mine for bitcoins. ASICS by definition are custom chips built for one singular purpose, in this case, to mine for bitcoins. Early on at least, I wanted it to be possible for anyone using a standard PC to mine for bitcoins. But as I soon realized, people already had begun to find ways to game the system by using specialized hardware. Still though, for the better part of a year, I was mostly the only one using the network on a consistent basis, mining the coins myself."
  • "I suspected that eventually most nodes would be using their graphical units by the time it became feasible to, to mine for bitcoin versus using general purpose CPUs. And it made complete sense if your goal was to get as many as possible. Why use a CPU when you could have a GPU do the work that much quicker? That (CPUs) is what most users had at their disposal at the time gave me reason to neglect mentioning that there were more sophisticated options out there, so I started with that. I was aware of it (ASICS) yes, still I didn’t really want to start an arms race for a network with few users, but I also didn’t care how someone decided to mine for them, whatever method they chose, I left it up to the individual to figure it out. Although I did want users to use their PCs and for it to stay that way for a while. Still, some had started to see that bitcoin was accruing value and the focus started to shift..."
  • "This is still an area of heated discussion, transaction fees. Prebitcoin, I had decided to include the transaction fee, and I had the fee set at 1 CENT (to give you perspective, one bitcoin today is a hundred million cents or 'satoshi', so, a ridiculously small amount) but I knew I wanted to change this later on and make it a user option setting, with the optional fee being zero to start. In hindsight, maybe I should have kept this as transaction fees seem to have skyrocketed and become skewed, almost to the point that it has become redundant, but in retrospect, for that very same reason people now are working on making transactions feeless at scale (scale means x-illions, replace x with any prefix you want, bi, tri, etc.). At some point, it is probable bitcoin will not need to depend on transaction fees at all. Fees could someday cease to be used as an incentive. Much like the US dollar is used by over 60% of the worlds population, it all boils down to one thing--trust. If you replaced the US dollar with the Yen or the Pound tomorrow, it would only mean that people trust it more, and will use it for that reason. The same could happen with bitcoin. If it becomes popular enough, it too has the same potential to be considered a widely used, adopted, and trusted form of currency."
  • "People may forget about this fact now but for the first year, it really was mostly myself who was the sole and active participant in the network. I was both maintaining it, using it, making changes to the code, fixing bugs, and promoting its use. Most people in the beginning were in fact just installing bitcoin once and never using it again, circumventing its intended use. The only person that really chugged away and stayed with it that first year, was Hal Finney."
  • "Other concerns which repeatedly come up even today is the size of the blocks, which I can say, was an unintended outcome that no one could have easily anticipated in the beginning but of which a solution could be implemented quite easily. What it will take is consensus, which is always hard to reach (more so now it seems), but the size of blocks in the end would not matter much on the client side. Once mining pools are the only ones resorting to mining, most on the client side will not be affected and are in effect just buying or selling bitcoin. Most users today are not actively running as a node either way."
  • "In June 2010 is when Gavin introduced himself, coming off as an enthusiastic and skillful programmer who liked to take initiative and wanted bitcoin to succeed from day one. From the time of release and even to the moment I left the community and had already decided to move on, I never made it a point to talk about myself. I responded to technical questions, all other (personal) questions I sidestepped. Cypherpunks and those from the cryptography community knew not to ask these kinds of questions, but to some programmers (not pointing fingers here), some of which used their real names, this was a question they felt could be brought up."
  • "For starters, many may wonder what the reasoning behind the fixed supply is. Why 21 million? The truth is, it was an educated guess. The math worked out, or as close to it as I had wanted it to. Before settling on 21 million however, I had considered making 100 BTC as the reward, and 42—the answer to life, the universe, and everything. But afraid that others would consider my reference to Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy a quip and at the expense of not being taken seriously, I changed it to 21 million."

Finally, if you decide you want to contact "Satoshi" via the foundation, he/she has kindly provided an email address in the aforementioned post, [email protected], although there is a warning that you should not be expecting "Satoshi" to be checking this account himself/herself.

 

Featured Image Credit: "Bitcoin Crypto Coin Stock Photo" by "Crypto360" via Flickr; licensed under "CC BY 2.0"