Elon Musk is at it again. This time, the infamous Dogecoin influencer slash CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company, Neuralink, and OpenAI, has made new a pronouncement as to whom he thinks is the actual Satoshi Nakamoto in real life.
Speaking at a podcast interview with Lex Fridman, Musk said that he thinks he knows who actually created Bitcoin, while also denying it’s him, going so far to say that if it’s actually him, he would confirm it without hesitation.
“Well, you can look at the evolution of ideas before the launch of bitcoin and see who wrote about those ideas. Obviously I don’t know who created bitcoin for practical purposes. The evolution of ideas is pretty clear for that, and it seems as though Nick Szabo is probably more than anyone else, responsible for the evolution of those ideas.” Musk opined.
Nick Szabo is a computer scientist and cryptographer. He is also a legal scholar. In 1997, Szabo coined and later popularized the term “smart contracts” to refer to practices and designs of electronic payments in a paper titled “Formalizing and Securing Relationships on Public Networks” where he discussed what later became the foundation of early pre-Bitcoin cryptographic protocols for “bit gold,” a proof of concept decentralized protocol that was introduced by Szabo in 1998. Many, including Musk, have hypothesized that Szabo is the actual person behind the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, mostly because of Szabo’s role as a pioneer in blockchain technologies from the 90s.
Szabo has repeatedly denied this over the years, and has maintained distance from the crypto industry as it accelerated, over a decade after Satoshi Nakamoto published the now-legendary Bitcoin whitepaper in 2009.
However, as this author would like to point out, anyone checking the whitepaper’s reference footnotes would see an immediately glaring pattern: five out the eight citations were dated in the 90s. The oldest citation by year of publication was 1957, and the most recent publication by year was dated 2002. Szabo graduated from the University of Washington in 1989, and subsequently earned his law degree a couple of years after. There is a minimum correlation here somewhere, in terms of the proximity of the citation dates and Szabo’s own research periods.
Curiously, in the same research paper on smart contracts mentioned earlier, Szabo stated:
“Contrary to the common wisdom, obscurity is often critical to security.”
Now, these are all pieces of circumstantial evidence and are hypothetical at best, and yet the idea is something worth thinking about, more so as Bitcoin quickly approaches its mining threshold.
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