Why It Doesn’t Matter Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto

Satoshi Nakamoto as Prometheus and the purpose of Bitcoin. Why Satoshi's identity doesn't really matter. The value of a permissionless system in building meaningful applications.

What is your opinion on why Mr. Nakamoto hasn’t explained what Bitcoin is for, exactly? Why do you think he decided not to reveal his identity?

In Greek mythology, there is the story of Prometheus, who had the audacity to steal fire from the gods and give it to man. As punishment for that, he was tied to a rock, where an eagle would eat his liver every day, and then overnight the liver would be re-grown so he could be tortured all over again.

Satoshi Nakamoto stole money from the State. Not stealing the money itself, but stealing the technology of money and giving it to man directly.

If we ever find out who Satoshi Nakamoto is, the most likely result will be that someone (metaphorically or literally) ties him to a rock for an eagle to eat his/her/their liver out. The day after Satoshi Nakamoto is found, we will “discover” from the media that this person is a criminal, a terrorist, a Muslim, a lesbian, a vegan, an anarchist, a punk rock fan, and biologically related to Justin Bieber.

I just enumerated few of the most horrifying things I can think of, because that is what the media will do, probably at the behest of governments. We have to realize that Satoshi Nakamoto disappeared just in time.

We have to realize that Satoshi Nakamoto is not a deity or prophet. Even though he, she, or they created a vision for what Bitcoin could be, Bitcoin is not theirs. Their idea of what Bitcoin could be – or is – is not divine truth.

We are Bitcoin. Bitcoin will always be “we,” not a single person. That is the whole point.

Therefore, it doesn’t matter anymore what Satoshi thought Bitcoin is. Satoshi was arguably unsure about whether this would even work. Satoshi was extremely hesitant to think this would work.

The bottom line is this: Satoshi Nakamoto can’t tell us what Bitcoin is, because neither he/she/they, nor we, yet know what Bitcoin will be. We are making history. We have to take responsibility for the fact that we are part of making history.

Part of making history means that you have no idea what comes next, because it has never come before. You have to make your choices carefully, with a long view into the future.

The stewardship of Bitcoin has passed to all of us. What do you think Bitcoin is?

I would say that Bitcoin is a platform, a kind of Lego which allows your creativity to create whatever you want to build, starting from the currency or payment system.

Here’s the other thing that’s really important to understand: Bitcoin doesn’t have to be one thing. That’s the whole point of a platform.

It can be something to you, but something completely different to someone else.

In a system where you don’t require permission to innovate, to be creative… Where in order to launch an application on the network all you need is to create it, and then find someone else who wants to interact using that application.

The userbase of a “legitimate” application is two people. For some applications, even one person will be enough. You don’t need to put it through a focus group or test it.

Write a protocol definition, launch it on the network. How many people do you need to run an application on the network? Two, and that is enough for that application to be meaningful to you.

Bitcoin is something, but also whatever you want it to be. It allows you to express the application of just two people, and that’s one of its magical capabilities.

If you want to create a new financial application on our modern financial system, it has to be something that billions of people will use profitably for the banks, which really means that you will have very few applications.

It’s important to think about it as something that you own, that I own, and that we all own.


About the author

Sunny King

I invented the proof of work. I created PeerCoin, PrimeCoin, and I am co-creator of Virtual Economy Era (VEE) coin.

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