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Nick Szabo on Cypherpunks, Money and Bitcoin - WBD163

Published on November 5th, 2019 by BTCMedia

Click to download audio version

Location: San Francisco

Date: Monday, 21st October

Project: n/a

Role: Blockchain, cryptocurrency, and smart contracts pioneer

On October 31st 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto emailed the cypherpunk mailing list, telling them "I've been working on a new electronic cash system that's fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party." In the 11 years that followed Bitcoin has proven to be the most successful attempt at creating a censorship-resistant and trust minimised digital currency.

Bitcoin was not the first attempt at creating a trust minimised currency, and there were several proposals, implementations and technologies which led to Bitcoin:

  • In the 1990's DigiCash, headed by David Chaum, attempted to make online payments anonymous.

  • In 1997 Adam Back created HashCash using a proof-of-work system to reduce email spam and prevent denial of service attacks.

  • In 1998 Wei Dai proposed B-money to allow for an "anonymous, distributed electronic cash system".

  • In 2004 Hal Finney built upon the idea of Hashcash and created Reusable Proofs of Work.

And in 2005 Nick Szabo proposed Bit Gold. Where unforgettable proof of work chains would share properties of gold: scarce, valuable and trust minimised but with the benefit of being easily transactable.

When Satoshi released the Bitcoin whitepaper, rather than a revolution, Bitcoin was an evolution of all that had come before it with Bitcoin being the most trust minimised, censorship-resistant and hardest currency that has ever existed.

Among Satoshi's email recipients was Nick Szabo, a computer scientist, cryptographer, the designer of Bit Gold and Smart Contracts pioneer. In a rare interview, Nick joins me to discuss the cypherpunk movement, what money is, privacy and of course, Bitcoin.

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