Satoshi and the Sophists
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louise Brandeis wrote:
“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”
Bitcoin is the most efficient system, and will help us to stamp out dishonesty and fraud. I did not create Bitcoin to make another underground drug currency. E-gold and Liberty Euro (a digital currency offered on Liberty Reserve) both existed and worked well for such a misguided purpose; they do so better than any blockchain ever can. What few people understand is that any system run by an individual or a group has a head that can be targeted. If Hydra has heads that are visible, like those of Monero, they can be cut off and the individuals punished. In time, the pain gets to be enough that those seeking to breach the law and bring destruction move to different pastures.
Bitcoin introduced something new to cryptocurrency—not decentralisation, as it is merely a part of the process. The truth is, Liberty Reserve with its 30,000 or so fiat on-ramps was more decentralised than the entire blockchain-based cryptocurrency space is today. No, the significant distinction with Bitcoin lies in leaving behind an immutable evidence trail that is the blockchain. Bitcoin is designed in such a way that if you remove the evidence trail, you end up with problems as exhibited with Zcash, where you cannot determine the amount of money in circulation. More importantly, money laundering and anti-money laundering (AML) laws exist in a way that allows all on-ramps and off-ramps to be monitored. As such, the tracking of digital currency becomes simple where crime is involved.
It is all an economic system; it is possible to target crime and yet not be able to bypass or break the privacy proffered to the average individual. Where sales have been conducted that lead back to tainted bitcoin, law enforcement officials can question the holders of different coins on exchanges and other on-ramps. Blockchain is designed such that at scale, the use of a network like Tor adds enough layers of complexity and inefficiency that allow the system to be brought down.
They who seek something other than what Bitcoin was designed for will try and create alternatives alongside Bitcoin such as the Lightning Network. Such systems are ones that are designed purely to lose and destroy logs. Such a form of anonymous money is the most straightforward arrangement to stop. Where a system is already breaching money laundering rules, the government can act against parties who are running a node. With a system like Lightning, the node cannot join and leave the network at will. Unlike Bitcoin, a Lightning node needs to be connected to the network 24/7. The consequence is that such systems may as well have targets painted on them.
Some people will try and tell you that they will find a way of creating a system that does not allow for repudiation. Such a pipe dream is called non-repudiation, but the reality is that it is a utopian dream that cannot exist in the real world. No matter what, you can always repudiate a signature. Maybe you signed under duress, maybe someone stole your key—there are more ways than are imaginable to repudiate something validly. Importantly, you cannot remove them technically; they are part of how the law works, and critically, it is a human right to be able to say that you did not sign something. The courts approach the other side of it with perjury: if you claim you did not do something, and it is demonstrated that you did, you are held accountable.
A lot of what is occurring within the cryptocurrency community is a subtle attack on law and Western culture.
Bitcoin uses a series of pseudonymous keys. A variety of derivative keys can be instituted that prove ownership of a key and all derived keys. It does not prove identity. There is no way to conclusively prove identity by means of a cryptographic method. More importantly, there should not be. An individual can enrol with a certification authority to demonstrate and assert control/ownership of a key. Such a process provides evidence but not proof.
In the future, with Bitcoin, individuals will create deterministic hierarchies of keys linked to their identity. Even so, it will only be evidence and not be proof. If a mere private key could be used as definitive proof and not merely evidence, we would implement a system far more draconian than forcing every person on earth to carry an identity card. With Bitcoin, organisations will be able to create identities and pseudo-identities that allow them to use individual services without linking. As such, identities will be firewalled isolating each set of records from other organisations.
The nature of proof is such that individuals choose how they can provide the evidence needed for a particular use case. If they need to prove something in court, they will give just enough evidence to definitively prove something in court. Where a party seeks to prove ownership of goods, they can do so without having to link more information than is required. Such is the nature of privacy. When police and law enforcement seek to investigate money laundering, they can investigate an individual and track the source of funds. People fail to see the problem with mixers: source-of-wealth laws exist. Right now, if you are found in possession of hundreds of thousands of dollars and you cannot explain the source, it can be seized. Bitcoin does not stop the seizure of assets. If you believe otherwise, you should look at the many cases that have already occurred. Hundreds of criminals have already had Bitcoin confiscated.
It is not decentralised nodes that make Bitcoin powerful. It is decentralised power. In Bitcoin, such an end is achieved as the protocol is set in stone. If a miner seeks to alter the protocol, they need to make all users update their node software. And Simplified Payment Verification (SPV) allows users to ensure that miners do not deviate. If a miner deviates by, for instance, adding a new opcode, the SPV node will consider it invalid. As a result, even if the miner achieves well over 50% of the network control by hash power, the miner will not control the network without convincing the users of the network to move to the new protocol.
The reality is that a small group of individuals behind something like ‘CoreCoin’ (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH) do control the protocol and can force users to upgrade. They are systems acting as doppelgängers that are not Bitcoin. Effectively, they are subverting the use of open-source structures and voting systems to hide the acts of the leadership. They are falsely engaged in obfuscating legal responsibility and hiding behind a false pretence of distributed power. The truth is, Bitcoin is only distributed and only removes power when the system cannot be changed. The ability to change the system, to add new opcodes, to in any way alter the protocol… that is the power structure within Bitcoin and for that matter any blockchain.
They who are in charge of the various alternative currencies including the sham versions of Bitcoin (BTC) seek to deflect the fact that they control the respective system. They seek to say that miners control protocol, and yet fail to say that they, in fact, alter the protocol using rhetorical flourishes such as calling a poison-pill change designed as a soft fork that leaves prior versions incompatible a choice. Here, changes to the network can be implemented without voting or notification.
A small group which controls the protocol makes decisions that impact all users of the system. When things work, and the community using the system does not see the problems of altering the protocol willy-nilly, the leadership takes ownership, but at the same time, it deflects all bad decisions or errors by saying it is a distributed system.
For Bitcoin to be successful, the protocol needs to be stable. New versions of software can be developed and created while not changing the underlying protocol. TCP/IP has hardly changed at the protocol level in the last 20 years, and yet, it has changed remarkably and gained a lot through more effective software implementations. For Bitcoin to work, the protocol needs to be fixed and set in stone. A protocol that is set in stone signals to developers and businesses that they can invest for the long term.
The sophistic rhetoric will tell you that Bitcoin is designed to make a censorship-resistant currency, and yet the very people making the argument have the power to invalidate transactions. The same people have the power to alter the protocol and make specific software implementations invalid and to drive people out of the industry. With a stable protocol, one that is set in stone as a requirement as I indicated nearly a decade ago, nobody can choose who can and cannot build on Bitcoin.
All the major social platforms, Twitter, Facebook, and even Google, have been infiltrated by social justice warriors seeking to destroy meritocracy and bring banality to the world. They call it diversification. The truth is that it is racist, homophobic, sexist, and every other -ism that one could consider to be distasteful. The growth path of Twitter has ended, and the user base is slowly declining. The reason for it is that you cannot serve two masters. Organisations can seek to be the best at what they are and what they seek to deliver, or they can lose to the market and capitalism. Just as socialism failed because it could not measure the value of what people sought in society, many organisations are now finding that they will not be able to survive the infiltration of mediocrity.
The Metanet Changes Business
Platforms such as YouTube and Twitter that have been heavily infiltrated by the mediocre who seek to justify their position using the conventional methods of the social justice warrior and associated socialist manipulate their positions using fear and threats of censorship. Where the same means do not work, they inundate communities with trolls and force others to abandon them. When you block such people, they cry foul saying that they have been censored.
The reality is that they enter into your property, your personal space, and then, when you remove them or seek to do so, they call loudly for their armies of mediocre associates. They do not build; they do not create; they destroy the work of others, and seek to stop you from creating. They do so as everything you build makes them seem more inferior. Every time you create something new, it shows them how much they have not done. So they come into your space, your property, and they invade it driving your friends and allies out as they do so.
The analogy would be to have an uninvited guest turn up to a dinner party and start complaining about everything, start calling out all you do and say to be wrong, and then start screaming at the top of his lungs that he is being oppressed and censored because you will not listen to him in your own home.
But, we can take away their power. With the Metanet, individuals and groups will be able to create a place to communicate where they can exclude others to be safe from abuse. Doing so is not censorship; it is the right to free speech. You do not have the right to invade someone else’s privacy, and you do not have the right to demand an audience. We will be able to exclude such people, and allow others who want to discuss issues, talk, and communicate in a manner that does not allow trolls to take over communities. Importantly, it will allow for the creation of spaces that are legal and open.
It will equally be possible to stop people who seek to falsely spread lies and rumours. People will be accountable for their actions and their words.
Free speech does not include anonymous insults. It does not include defamation. You have the right for an opinion, but not to make things up without evidence. Right now, the ability to create fake news and to promote lies exists because people cannot be held accountable in the world of anonymous trolls. In the future, trackable micropayments will allow access to everyone while also holding people accountable. People will be able to create communities in a way they choose. If a community chooses to be pseudonymous and does not verify the identities of the members within it, they will be able to do so. But equally, if a group of people wishes only to be able to exclude users who attacked its members or do not hold a view that is aligned with the members of the group, such a group can also be created.
The coin is far from being anarchist. It does not stop government; it holds it to account. The ability to track and trace money, to limit and report on corruption and illegal foreign dealings alters the very nature of government. In being able to account for expenditure and report instantly the results from government departments as they disseminate funds, Bitcoin radically alters the nature of representative government. In the future, citizens on welfare can be limited in what they can purchase. We could limit the tax paid for rent and food and ensure that people offer to educate their children, and if they do not, then they would be limited in what they can use welfare money for.
Bitcoin does not stop government; it gives them who form the productive aspects of society oversight over where their money goes. If people do not apply for jobs, they could have their welfare cheques invalidated automatically. Businesses would be able to accept welfare cheques as payment for healthy food and simultaneously not be able to take such cheques for luxury goods such as alcohol or desserts and lollies. It puts control into such environments.
Bonds and capital-raising methods that are used within the government could be monitored and traced. In a representative society, it would allow the people involved in the system to choose how the money they submit is spent. In the future, smart contracts will allow for conditional payments from many aspects of society. Smart contracts and lighthouse agreements will replace many of the existing boondoggle projects that people say cannot be funded otherwise. The commons will be controlled and owned, and such members of the district will be able to gain the benefits that come from maintaining a system well, and they will be able to hold them who abuse the system to account.
What Others Project…
By being able to control the narrative and invade personal property in the digital online world, people who have no right to engage with us can shut down discussions. As such, the vocal minority sets an agenda that the rest of society would not want. They project what they fear, and they can call out their problems. We hear cries of fraud, and yet it is generally them who seek to promote a system where fraud is easy. In the future, Bitcoin will enable a single set of books for all organisations and governments—something that has never occurred in our world.
People seek to promote the lies that they have created as they see short-term profit. They want to promote illicit dark websites and make money by allowing the laundering of money. They seek to pump and promote scams that enable effortless value to be created out of thin air, but it is worth nothing but thin air. As we build Bitcoin and the Metanet, we will start to see a new world evolve. A world of truth in the world of privacy.
It is the world I seek to bring into existence, one built on time-tested values. A world of inclusion based on merit.
When people try to tell you that Bitcoin was designed to be decentralised, ask what they mean. Have them explain and set definitions for the terms they seek to use. If they are saying it is about the decentralisation of power, then the only way it can occur in any blockchain is for the protocol to be stable. Ask them how protocol changes are conducted, who acts as the gatekeeper, and who has the veto. Without looking into the matter, and without defining the terminology used, we end up in a Humpty Dumpty world where people seek to set the meaning of words in a fluid and nebulous way. Bitcoin is set in stone, and it is the only way to allow it to grow and for businesses to accept it, and importantly, it is the only way to have a system based on a meritocracy develop around Bitcoin.
If people tell you that they want an equal world, ask them what they mean by equal. Do they mean equal treatment under the law? Alternatively, do they mean equal outcomes? If they are seeking equal outcomes, ask them why one person should work harder for others who seek to be lazy. Ask why they who sacrifice, they who spend decades in university studying things that offer productive development and growth should pay for individuals who sit at home or even ones who study neoliberal arts and then expect to be handed the world on a platter. Bitcoin is a meritocracy. They who would rather debate and complain instead of risk and act will tell you otherwise, but doing so is all they will do as it is all they can do.
Through Bitcoin, I see a world where various systems compete. I see the individual, the local, state, and government all competing globally. And unlike our current system where GDP provides a false metric treating crime and destruction equally to the development of food and health services, we will have a system that measures desired outcomes. Bitcoin will do away with systems that treat the creation of artificial assets equally to the creation of marketable goods. In countries such as Iceland in 2008, banks used fraudulent tricks to create capital out of nowhere. Alice would value her cat at $1 billion and sell it to Bob who would trade his dog that he valued with a capital value of $1 billion, and they would be held on loan between the two parties. The result was the creation of $4 billion worth of artificial capital. The same still goes on today, and worse, it is the foundation for schemes like Tether, ICOs, and the bucket shops people call exchanges. All of them will end.
Such is my vision. Such is the Satoshi Vision.