My friends, the story of Bitcoin today makes for a good Netflix documentary, doesn't it? Not the story of an exchange with a disappearing CEO, mind you, but the story of the cryptocurrency itself- its successes where predecessors have failed and the birthing of this entire movement that we all partake in today with offshoots like proof of stake systems, DeFi and NFT and the metaverse and even government-backed digital currencies- CBDCs. Let's get a petition going.
Anyways, this morning I was surfing the Internet and just walking back through time. I don't know why, I just love to read, I guess. I was going through stories about the genesis of Bitcoin and cryptographic money, and even the identity of Bitcoin's mysterious founder Satoshi Nakamoto and the multiple theories published in this field, right? And boy, did I come across some gems, some of which I'm going to share with you. Let's start today by talking a bit about Timothy May and Eric Hughes.
Timothy May- The Crypto-Anarchist
In 1988, long before many of y'alls were born, I suspect, or when quite a few of us were just little kids with no knowledge of computers, not even the dial up kind, most of us simply satisfied, not with running through digital worlds crashing cars and shooting each other, but rather with climbing trees, setting traps, and chasing birds with slingshots, an electronic engineer, Timothy May, foresaw the connected the world we now live in and had begun championing the call for privacy. Interesting that he should, given his previous career at Intel.
In his 1988 Crypto Anarchist Manifesto, May, who passed away some 30 years later in 2018, wrote: "Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner. Two persons may exchange messages, conduct business, and negotiate electronic contracts without ever knowing the True Name, or legal identity, of the other. Interactions over networks will be untraceable, via extensive re- routing of encrypted packets and tamper-proof boxes which implement cryptographic protocols with nearly perfect assurance against any tampering. Reputations will be of central importance, far more important in dealings than even the credit ratings of today. These developments will alter completely the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation." Surreal, right?
May, one of the prominent voices in the Cypherpunk Movement, went on to speak about zero-knowledge interactive proof systems; software protocols for interaction, authentication, and verification; high speed internet networks, smart cards, encryption chips, etc. He spoke of state attempts to try to stop the spread of technology citing national security or, get this, "the use of the technology by drug dealers and tax evaders". He acknowledged that this new market will be used by criminal and foreign elements, but even so, he said, the wheels of change are turning, and when they begin, ain't no stopping them. [Not exactly his words]
Now, friends, this may be old news to some of you, but I was like, dang! I mean, I'm not trying to appear sacrilegious or anything, I promise you, but I was like, this man's words were prophetic. Or he's a soul from the future. Like he's truly uncovered the secret to walking back in time. Here's the link.
And here's another video he did.
And just in case you're wondering what in tarnation is a cypherpunk, well, it's any individual who advocates the use of technology and privacy enhancing tools . Back in the '80s and '90s, there was a group who foresaw the internet's growing influence and began lobbying even back then when it wasn't a trend for privacy. Whew!
Eric Hughes: Privacy is NOT Secrecy
In 1993, Mathematician Eric Hughes published the Cypherpunk Manifesto championing the call for digital privacy. And cryptocurrencies like Monero or mixers and tumblers like Tornado Cash hadn't even been invented yet, right? Bitcoin wasn't even a thing, let alone Litecoin and its MimbleWimble upgrade.
And here's what he says, "Privacy in an open society requires anonymous transaction systems... We cannot expect governments, corporations, or other large, faceless organizations to grant us privacy out of their beneficence. It is to their advantage to speak of us, and we should expect that they will speak... We must come together and create systems which allow anonymous transactions to take place... We are defending our privacy with cryptography, with anonymous mail forwarding systems, with digital signatures, and with electronic money...
"We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and since we can't get privacy unless we all do, we're going to write it... Our code is free for all to use, worldwide. We don't much care if you don't approve of the software we write. We know that software can't be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can't be shut down." Imagine that. And Tornado Cash hadn't even been sanctioned yet.
Incidentally, in today's news:
- There are reports that recently arrested Tornado Cash developer Alexey Pertsev allegedly has links to Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) and that he founded a company, PepperSec, which reportedly helped the intelligence agency develop its cyber capabilities. This according to intelligence firm, Kharon.
And so, friends, what are your thoughts on the visionary contributions of those men and women who birthed this movement today- not only Timothy May and Eric Hughes, but also guys like Phillip Zimmerman? And what do you think of this latest report about Alexey Pertsev? I'd love to hear views.
Well, I'm off again in search of another story. Until we meet next time, please remember to be safe. Arrivederci!