Thirteen years ago, a cypherpunk named Satoshi Nakamoto published a white paper proposing a peer-to-peer electronic money system called Bitcoin. On October 31, 2008, he emailed this document to a group of his associates. At that time, few people understood that white paper and the system that was based on it some time later; But the Bitcoin white paper established a system that does not need intermediaries and a decentralized and powerful framework. From that moment, the era of digital currencies began.
Jameson Lopp, the co-founder and chief technology officer of Casa, is one of the prominent figures in the field of cryptography and digital currencies. He first read the Bitcoin whitepaper in 2012 and has devoted his life to improving his skills in the field ever since.
The article you are reading next, a conversation Mian Loop and John Tinkelenburg of Casa Blog about Bitcoin and its white paper.
Question: There is some disagreement about what the Bitcoin white paper is about. What is your description of this white paper for those who haven’t read it?
Jameson: The Bitcoin white paper was actually written when most of the coding work was done. Satoshi Nakamoto has said in several places that in order to make sure that Bitcoin works properly, they should have coded it first. While I think most white papers are written before doing coding and other work.
White papers are generally outlines that explain our approach to solving a problem; But with Bitcoin it was the opposite. In the Bitcoin White Paper, Satoshi has tried to provide a simple English description of the system that was built in 2008.
Question: Why do you think it was important for Satoshi Nakamoto to present the Bitcoin project in this way?
Jameson: I think that’s how cypherpunks worked in general. Their effort was to have a scientific approach to solving problems; Because they were engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists.
The best way to make any accurate judgment is to provide a systematic description of the problems and solutions. This is one of the basic assumptions of the cypherpunk movement. They transparently cooperated and ran each other’s codes to improve them by breaking the codes. Bitcoin was by no means the first system to be presented as a cypherpunk project; Rather, it was a continuation of the same public conferences that were held 20 years ago.
Question: When did you first see the Bitcoin white paper?
Jameson: I think I first saw it in an article on Slashdot. Before that, I had heard the name of Bitcoin several times; But I had not paid attention to it. It was the third or fourth time I looked at it and read the white paper. That’s when I realized the importance of this system.
Maybe my education in computer science helped me; But I think the Bitcoin whitepaper is simple enough that even a non-technical person can understand it well after reading it a few times. The Bitcoin whitepaper is only eight pages long. I suggest those who haven’t been able to figure it out yet, This version read which has explanatory notes in some parts.
Question: Has your view of the Bitcoin whitepaper changed over time?
Jameson: The only thing that’s really changed is how little I think the white paper explained about the system. The Bitcoin white paper is not very comprehensive. Bitcoin as a protocol has grown into a full network and ecosystem far beyond the scope of the experiments that were conducted in 2008.
Bitcoin has many different aspects. It was not possible to foresee and include all these aspects in the white paper. Many things, even some basic issues, are not in the white paper; But I don’t think that removing these items has harmed the white paper’s great accuracy in describing the important components of the system and its goals.
Question: In your opinion, what is the most important part that is missing in the white paper?
Jameson: The white paper mainly describes how the system remains secure against certain types of attacks. There is no discussion about the economic aspects of the system and the focus of the white paper is only on the issue of safety. This is a topic that explains the technical high levels of how to build a history of transactions and the Game Theory of how to ensure that records are not tampered with.
Question: The white paper specifically proposes a solution to the problem of double-spending. For those unfamiliar with the respending issue, explain how important it was at the time. Was this an academic issue or an everyday occurrence?
Jameson Loop: Double spending is a potential problem with all payment systems; Especially any digital payment system where assets are not physically moved. Idiom Double spending It means spending a certain amount of money more than once. This makes said money no longer valuable to its recipients.
Double spending was an academic problem; Because until then, no one had found a way to create a system that could reliably account for transaction records without a central authority. Almost no one knew the problem Double spending What is; Because all existing systems had a central power that prevented such an event. I myself had not heard of a solution to this issue anywhere else until I read the Bitcoin white paper.
Question: When today’s bitcoin with a system you compare As described in the white paper, what do you think is the biggest change that needs to happen?
Jameson: The white paper says that the correct chain is the longest chain. In the early days of Bitcoin, it was really like that, and the chain with the highest number of blocks was the correct chain; But such a thing is completely wrong from the point of view of security and game theory. The right chain is the heaviest chain or the chain that has the most proof of cumulative work.
Question: It is interesting. So it wasn’t like Satoshi Nakamoto had it all right from the beginning?
Jameson: Yes, this is exactly what I discussed in my article “Nobody Understands Bitcoin”. There I have explained how even Satoshi Nakamoto’s understanding of Bitcoin changed over the years he was involved in the project.
Q: Why do you think the Bitcoin whitepaper is still relevant? Why after 13 Does the year of publication still matter?
Jameson: All this to an article entitled “Manifesto of a cypherpunkIt comes back that in 1993, one of the founders of the cypherpunk movement named Eric Hughs wrote. We know that any system that is decentralized enough will never shut down, and this makes it resistant to the laws of any country. The Internet is a global phenomenon that transcends physical boundaries.
A few years ago, in opposition to some claims regarding the intellectual property of the Bitcoin white paper, the number of servers hosting this white paper suddenly increased. A couple of websites removed the Bitcoin white paper; But the end result was that the white paper was published more widely.
Question: Many consider the day of the publication of the white paper as the birthday of Bitcoin. Do you agree with this?
Jameson Loop: How old is Bitcoin? The white paper release day is one of these. January 3, 2009 is also the date of creation of the Genesis Block; But the genesis block was actually created five days before the network went online and other blocks were generated. The first peer-to-peer transaction took place three days later. Therefore, there is no single birthday for Bitcoin. It is worth mentioning that they worked on this idea for a long time and considered various historical events as the birth of Bitcoin.