On April 23, 2011, Satoshi Nakamoto sent their final email: “I’ve moved on to other things. It’s in good hands with Gavin and everyone.” They handed over the source code to the Bitcoin repository and disappeared.
Since that day, there is no ‘undeniable’ proof that ‘Satoshi’ has been heard from or has once shared their opinion on Bitcoin again.
For perspective, the Bitcoin project source code was first released in January 2009, nine years and two months ago. Satoshi left the project two years and three months in, therefore, contributed to the project for 25% of its history.
Contributed, is an important word. While Bitcoin was Satoshi’s vision, they could not deliver it without the support of others. They recruited smart people to help them deal with the many challenges of growing Bitcoin, respected developers like Hal Finney, Gavin Andreson and Nick Zsabo.
Since Satoshi left the project, we have had The Silk Road, Mt. Gox, Coinbase, ASICS, China Ban, Futures, Bitcoin Cash, Lightning Network… an endless list of technologies, people, governments and companies who have joined, contributed, regulated, damaged and helped Bitcoin. As such, the needs of Bitcoin has changed, and the needs of Bitcoin users have changed.
Now, the point of my article is not to forget Satoshi or dismiss their legacy. The point of my article is that statements such as ‘Satoshi’s Original Vision’ or ‘Satoshi would want…’, are not relevant.
We do not know what Satoshi would want; certainly not based on a white paper, written nearly ten years ago, without Satoshi having the other 75% of the project’s history to inform their opinion.
Satoshi may agree with Roger Ver and agree the Bitcoin Cash roadmap is the right one for Bitcoin.
We don’t know.
Satoshi may like The Lightning Network and agree that this is right for Bitcoin.
We don’t know.
Satoshi may dislike Bitcoin being considered a store of wealth as his original white paper was for ‘A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’. Let’s remember that the genesis block includes ‘The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.’ An explicit reference to financial instability caused by the banks. Satoshi may have seen how the people of Venezuela and Zimbabwe have used Bitcoin to protect themselves economically.
We don’t know.
Satoshi may say that Bitcoin is not a store of wealth and should only be considered and developed as a medium of exchange.
We don’t know.
Even if Satoshi was still involved in the project, even if they originally believed that on-chain scaling was best; after working with other smart people they may have changed their mind.
We don’t know.
We don’t know because they disappeared from the project.
They resigned from Bitcoin.
They stopped contributing.
They said you decide.
Any attempt to use Satoshi’s original vision (white paper) as an argument is weak because the white paper was a plan, a concept, but not a bible for which all things must follow. The US constitution has amendments for a reason, we humans make mistakes, we get things wrong, society changes, needs change and we evolve.
Any attempt to envisage what Satoshi would think is made so with incomplete information; this is conjecture. Have you noticed in films when a lawyer in court screams “Conjecture”, the legal system doesn’t like conjecture? It is guesswork.
Satoshi wasn’t/isn’t some infallible, all-knowing God of crypto. The early history of Bitcoin demonstrates this as they developed the protocol with other brilliant minds. Envisaging what Satoshi would want only indicates that the person who is doing this is weak at arguing their point. It is the last line of defence, “yeah but Satoshi would agree with me.”
You don’t know that.
Worse still, by placing Satoshi on this Crypto pedestal, you turn them into a single point of failure, something entirely against the decentralised fundamentals of the Bitcoin they created. Using the white paper as an argument not only makes Satoshi a single point of failure, but they are a single point of failure who is either dead or hiding from the world with others interpreting their wishes.
While individuals are celebrated for inventions, they usually invent things alongside other brilliant minds. Henry Ford was working with Thomas Edison before he started the Ford Motor Company. And do you think he sat in a barn building cars all on his own?
Surely we have enough smart people in the world of crypto who can sit around a table and figure these things out? Surely we don’t need to say “This mythical dead/hiding person which nobody has met or knows, would think this?”
And if we can’t agree, well this is the beauty of the Bitcoin project, we can create a fork, split-test different opinions and let the world decide. This is surely a better way of creating a cryptocurrency which changes the world, which is what we all want right? Rather than having this civil war, imagining what Satoshi would want “Dude, you don’t know shit, Satoshi’s original vision was this,” “shut up, you’re an idiot, Satoshi also said this.”
We don’t know.
Satoshi isn’t here; we have no idea what they are thinking or what they want.
And you know what, if Satoshi isn’t dead, should they suddenly appear back in the world and sign the genesis block, and tell the world what they think, it is still just an opinion of someone who left the project years ago. Steve Jobs, one of our other nerd Gods wasn’t always right; he was kicked out of Apple, failed with the NeXT computer before the world elevated to God-like status.
Satoshi could return and be at odds with the brilliant minds working on Bitcoin right now.
Satoshi would have to earn their right back into the Bitcoin project. Yes, I am sure they will be accepted, but whatever opinion they come back with, well, it’s just an opinion, the other brilliant minds working on Bitcoin may disagree.
To use Satoshi’s white paper, calling it their original vision, as an argument for anything is just propaganda and an insult to a person/people who apparently wanted to create something for the people.
Now I don’t expect everyone to like this or agree with me. I fully expect some smart technical people will start telling me I don’t know what I am talking about; this is fine, I am not a technical whizz. I have read the white paper and didn’t understand a lot of it. I have attempted to join debates on Reddit only to be told I’m a fucking idiot or gay. The thing is, you don’t need to be a technical whizz to realise that Satoshi gave us a gift and we waste time and energy with this civil war.
We have Bitcoin, we have Bitcoin Cash, we have Bitcoin Diamond, Gold etc.… We have the experiments out there. Let’s focus our efforts on taking on the real enemies here. The governments who endlessly print money, raising debt ceilings and taking away our public services. The banks which have led us into financial crisis after financial crisis, only to be bailed out by the governments while we lose our homes and jobs.
Let’s not keep fighting each other, we all have the same goal, right? Self-sovereignty, a right to privacy, choice and to make a little money by investing in the Bitcoin project.