The current situation with the Bitcoin Cash ABC / SV hard fork has brought focus once again to the controversial topic of the history of Bitcoin and its mysterious creator, the infamous Satoshi Nakamoto. As the debate rages on regarding the future of where the chain is heading, and how to correctly follow the design outlaid by the original white paper.
So far, despite millions of dollars and countless hours being spent by a plethora of determined enthusiasts to bring the world the truth; Nakamoto was even nominated for a Nobel peace prize in an attempt to try and lure him from out from the shadows.
None such efforts have returned fruitful, although they did bare a candidate who claims to be Satoshi, or at least to be part of a possible collective that used the moniker in the early cypherpunk origins from the remnants of Nick Szabo’s bit gold and Wei Dei’s b-money.
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The first recipient of Bitcoin, computer scientist Hal Finney – is likely the logical closest link to Satoshi’s true identity, sadly Finney passed in 2014 and may hold the only verifiable link to proof who Satoshi really is.
Additionally to Hal Finney passing, there has been another death surrounding Bitcoins possible creators, American US Army Veteran David Kleiman a computer forensics and security expert, who also sadly passed a year prior in 2013.
In 2018, Kleiman’s estate filed a claim against the current claimant of the Satoshi throne – Dr Craig Steven Wright. The lawsuit claims that shortly after Dave’ death, Craig implemented an elaborate plan to transfer into his holdings between 550k and 1.1mln BTC. Also included in the claim are additional intellectual property owned by the company Kleiman setup that was incorporated in Florida – W&K Info Defense Research LLC.
Published inside the complaint, are documents evidencing a long history between Craig Wright and Dave Kleiman, including documents demonstrating an early involvement in mining Bitcoin. Interestingly, although the complaint does include Craig’s claim to be Satoshi, it focuses on evidence Craig and Dave mined bitcoin together. As Satoshi’s identity is irrelevant to whether Craig stole from Dave.
Dr. Craig Wright is an Australian with a colorful vocabulary and often quiet abrasive manner, he is openly opinionated on many topics and shares his thoughts frequently publically on twitter, until recently when he has marked his tweets as protected, meaning that you must follow Craig to be able to read them.
Andrew O’hagan followed Craig, at the request of his PR team, for several weeks to produce the excellently detailed book, “The Secret Life: Three True Stories,” in which O’hagan goes into the murky depths of Craig’s mclovin-esque school days where he would dress up as a Samurai and scare his sister’s college peers away ‘as if he had webbed feet.’
The book also goes over how his mother herself stated Craig often embellishes stories, remembering one hospital visit Craig had as a boy. When he claimed bare faced to the doctors he had broken his nose numerous times before ‘and stitched himself up at home’ despite his physician telling him to his face he had never broken his nose once and it was ‘impossible’.
You see Craig often refers to himself as an ‘arsehole’ so he is ultimately completely self aware of his poor decorum. In his previous companies, he has had countless issues with staff walking out due to his style or what he may call his incredible panache for business management. When he was working in the UK for nChain, during O’Hagans time with him, staff had to be trained on how to talk Craig, and that he was considered incapable of communication in a professional manner. Craig’s qualifications although brought to question several times, have been verified despite some inaccuracies.
Wright’s academic career is a little unclear, he claims his first PhD was in theology, comparative religious and classical studies. Claiming a 2003 dissertation titled ‘Gnarled roots of creation theory’ although he never stated which institution granted the doctorate. Wright also claimed to have another PhD in computer science from Charles Sturt Uni on his LinkedIn Profile in 2015, although when Forbes enquired the university assured they only awarded him two masters and never a doctorate.
In 2017 Wright finally got a PhD from CSU in February of that year. A long time from his original claim of being a doctor since years prior. Craig often blocks people who wish to debate Bitcoin and his ideas on the future (what he calls Satoshi’s Vision) and who ask him to back up his concepts with hard solid facts. On one occasion I have asked Craig to explain his stance on the large blocks, to which I found many other twitter users were interested as they also commented and liked the thread.
After a mere few minutes of this thread growing, myself and several other twitter handles were blocked by the Dr himself. Interestingly Craig claims that we are trolling, but despite polite manner and an amicable approach, he feels forced to block everyone asking such a question. All we are asking for is an adult conversation.
Where’s The Proof?
Andrew O’Hagan gives an excellent fly on the wall gonzo account of the entire debacle that happened when Craig decided to show proof that he was Satoshi. Craig decided to sign a
message using a key he claimed was from the genesis block.
At first his attempt to sign the message failed, and this wasbecause he did not end the string in his initials. This seems strange that the message required to have a specific text string to sign, surely a genuine legit key would be able to sign any string. This stipulation is just but one of many bizarre seemingly innocent coincidences surrounding the proof of Satoshi. After adding his initials, the message signed and he was able to display that part of the proving so everyone accepted him as Satoshi.
Then when they asked him to do it again, with a fresh laptop – that is where the agitation and drama begins. Furthermore when the BBC came to meet with Craig and do the television interview, he flew off the handle demanding many specific assurances and requirements threatening not to show any proof at all if these were not met. Being rational minded and logical about this, does this sound like the man who created the technology he is demonstrating? Why would he need such strange specific requirements if what
he was doing was genuinely off the cuff proof using just a straight up key.
Why need to go a specific route in order to get validation?
Is it that this was because it was not 100% genuine, and that due to a remarkable fluke or chance of luck he had found a way to circumnavigate around the case and provide some kind of plausible proof that baffled non technical minded audiences.
This seems like a possibility as when we look at the announcement that was made in 2016 on his personal blog, the world ripped him to shreds. Proving that the signature provided was merely a hash that was posted publicly by Satoshi back in the forums and not real proof at all of Craig being Satoshi.
Why Big and Heavy Over Small And Fast?
Network technologies by our conventional defaults require lightweight data loads, in order to create a optimal transit for the protocol to operate in a timely manner. When we send data
between a server and client or peer to peer we need it to be optimal and non-bloated. There is no point carrying extra weight merely for the sake of it. Every packet, every bit must be
accounted for and have a purpose.
Any web developer who’s been building sites for a while, will know about optimising their requests and minimising code, compressing images and so on. Currently the blockchain is fairly small, albeit not small enough to fit on a floppy disk though. Even though it is just simple text data essentially, in the form of blocks which contain hashes – in a abstraction it’s just plain text data. People may on a whim add documents and such to the blockchain, as anyone can embed data into their signing message. But it’s a highly expensive way to find cloud storage and not used by many.
As ethereum’s creator Vitalik Buterin has made clear several times, blockchains are inefficient cloud storage. Blockchains, after all, are very slow databases – they are similar to a mysql or excel spreadsheet with one huge exception that is worth that cost in slow down and PoW mining. Blockchains are immutable. They are written once, and have read only access. What you save into the chain stays permanently. And that one feature is the crucial part of all blockchain-based endeavours, that we can, without a possible doubt, guarantee that the signed block that appears on the chain is correct and accounted for.
This one feature is worth all the cost of mining, checking and validating the blocks because it means we can finally build a new economy, a new era of technology. Peers can guarantee this system is robust, independent and like wild seeds blowing through the wind – decentralised, a blockchain is like a seed is able to take root in any pasture and continue replicating it’s worth, once it’s been downloaded and continued to be mined on by taking new broadcast transactions from the mempool.
From this analogy of seed and plant you see what a huge potential blockchains have, we see from a small beginning does huge potential spring forth.
The only design issue is the resource cost of having this chain of data. Because the more we add to it, the more it grows – exponentially. The blockchain for Bitcoin was 50gb only last year.
Now it has doubled and even with segwit being slowly integrated across exchanges it will reach well over 200gb by the end of 2018 going at its current trajectory, as it already crossed 200gb in september. With more adoption, that could go much higher and reach 400gb or so.
Now this may not sound like a huge deal to you, but you must understand the chain is required to be downloaded to fully sync a wallet client. As the chain becomes larger, we lose portability. Because after a few terabytes, not so many devices can fully sync unless connected to much larger hard disks.
Obviously, with the current configuration or Bitcoin, Litecoin and even Ethereum which hosts smart contracts that provide much more functionality getting into terabytes of chain data is a far horizon and technology should keep up with that pace. Meaning by 2020 or later, we’ll have devices with several terabytes of flash storage that don’t cost the earth so syncing that chain won’t be such a headache.
So, now you understand the practicalities of having a large chain and the portability issue that ensues. You see that anyone suggesting to just willingly create more chain data is woefully ignorant to the practical real-world implications for doing so.
Having faster blocks would be the obvious answer on how to kick the chain up a gear and make it work faster and scale further. Or having a sidechain that allowed for the amalgamation of many high-frequency orders and provides batch processing, which is essence is what lightning has created – payment channels.
When the chain size goes up, every exchange, wallet provider, and your own nodes will need to churn through that extra data. That’s the knock-on effect. Ask yourself now: do you want to be churning 10 terabytes of blocks just because you can? Do you want to hook up 20tb NAS to your miners just because of big blocks? Why when you can do the same with less.
Large blocks go against the conventional simple design ethos of internet development, keep it light and fast. Optimally, as low file size as possible. So why start throwing huge blocks around, when you can do less with more.
It has been written that Bitcoin was tested with up to 500gb blocks. This may work in a test lab environment but real world when all miners must download this large a chain, it’s going to make the mining operation centralized because only data centers will have access to the size of storage raid arrays required. Even then, take it from someone who has run a CDN himself, storage devices have issues. Hard disks fail. All hardware has issues, although each year we get incremental improvements, the more storage the more resources used. So it is a costly choice to want to walk in that manner, this is ever more apparent in how we use cloud storage – it’s not free.
Look at any large cloud hosting provide such as iCloud, DropBox, amazon’s AWS. These are all
popular systems that of course have some free trials to get customers, but are not entirely free because of the cost incurred by hosting. Although they may lure you in as free, ultimately you will pay something. Because once your data is on the cloud, its valuable. You will pay to keep it hosted. Hard disks require power, and the buildings need power for cooling, power costs money.
For a large datacenter that is an overhead that they have and can offload by essentially leasing out overflow resources that they have to retail consumers. They have to keep the lights on, so it doesn’t hurt to use overflow.
Knowing this aspect – could this be the real agenda behind getting big blocks through to
widespread main chain usage? Is it a play that larger enterprise scale data centers can now centralize mining and push out bedroom miners and hobbyists? It does seem like a very obvious move if that was the case. Imagine you own a data center, you have 1k TB at your disposal and only 30% is being used by your client base, you bought in bulk and have the racks turned on. A huge data usage blockchain would be ideal as you can allocate the remaining free space to store this insanely huge ever expanding blockchain that will fill any retail consumers hard disk in moments.
That future, is a centralized and non-workable future.
The answer we will more than likely get fed is, but come on you don’t need the whole chain. You can sync headlessly, just don’t download the chain data and process new blocks. This will mean we do not download the chain, maybe that’s not a big deal for many people and it will be worth it considering the gains of having billions of transactions per seconds on this huge chain.
One thing that must be fully understood is that in this development timeline, we can forever say goodbye to the small miners and have to accept that resources will be centralized into big datacenters where only big players can compete.
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