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The Modern Consensus: Bitcoin Turns 15 and the Tributes Are Legion


On the 15th anniversary of Satoshi Nakamoto publishing the Bitcoin white paper, Modern Consensus has gathered a selection of tributes – a mix of the poignant, the thought provoking and since Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gensler felt the need to weigh in, the clownish.

Bitcoin Magazine

One of the very first publications devoted to Bitcoin, Bitcoin Magazine was co-founded in 2012 by a 17-year-old Vitalik Buterin, whose father had piqued his interest in the young technology the year before – and who went on to invent Ethereum, announcing it in his own white paper in November 2013. In a feature published today entitled “The Reformation of Money: Bitcoin’s Whitepaper and Its Parallels to Martin Luther”, author Robert Hall sets the stage by writing:

It was 15 years ago today that one of the most important documents ever written was released to the world. The importance of this document is akin to Martin Luther, who published his 95 Theses in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517.

Satoshi Nakamoto must have been a student of history because there is little chance this was a coincidence and Satoshi must have understood the significance of publishing the Whitepaper on this day. The parallels between the Whitepaper and the 95 Theses simply can’t be ignored.

The article is definitely worth a read, both for the history lesson and the salient points Hall makes about Bitcoin’s importance, including these:

Given absolute power over the lives of others, even the most pious and well-meaning among us will become corrupt… The only thing that we as humans can do is to mitigate this urge as much as possible.

Bitcoin binds this innate temptation towards corruption in an unbreakable chain of positive incentives, decentralization, transparency, and hard-capped supply, enabled by the ingenious difficulty adjustment and backed by the world’s energy.

We have the opportunity to remake the world with better money that works for everyone and not just the elite. This is a social experiment that has never been tried in human history and is one that we can ill afford not to try.

Lyn Alden

Founder of her own “fundamental investing with a global macro overlay” firm, Lyn Alden Investment Strategy, Alden argues that it’s important to understand monetary history in order to better gauge the potential market size of new technologies like blockchain. Her commemorative tweet today makes an important point about Satoshi’s approach to communicating what was to become the blockchain revolution:

Nakamoto released the project’s major breakthrough/invention details to the world, and gathered input, before he released the actual open-source client that people used to bootstrap the network.

Joël Lightbound
Joël Lightbound’s tweet about a speech he gave on Bitcoin to the Canadian Parliament

Liberal Party member Joël Lightbound tweeted a clip of a speech he gave to the Canadian Parliament where he quotes Twitter founder Jack Dorsey calling the Bitcoin white paper “one of the most seminal works of Computer Science in the last 30 years” and making these  points:

In the words of SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, Satoshi’s innovation potential to spur change is worth pursuing to lower economic rents and promote economic inclusion.

Over the last decade we’ve seen Bitcoin empower the underbanked, as well as those living in oppressive regimes.

Women, who use Bitcoin all over the world to evade unjust restrictions on their financial freedoms.

It’s also helped thousands of families avoid the tragedy of currency debasement.

I’m advocating for everyone to study it, progressives in particular because Bitcoin was born in the midst of the Great Financial Crisis as an alternative to big banks’ greed and the system that never failed to bail them out.

Nic Carter

Yesterday Modern Consensus highlighted Nic’s efforts as part of an avalanche of rebuttals to an egregious, dangerous and still uncorrected misrepresentation by the Wall Street Journal regarding crypto and Hamas, and his Bitcoin tweet today harks back to a thoughtful piece he wrote three years ago. It’s worth quoting at length as it speaks to the broader misunderstanding of crypto and the role of the press:

Bitcoin has often confused people. It’s perhaps one of the most misunderstood phenomena of the last decade. If you lack sufficient ideological and historical context, you most likely consider it a complete boondoggle or a bizarre, unnecessary waste of computing power and effort. This is the default position. Most people in the West rarely give any thought to monetary policy or banking — why should they? Their currencies depreciate at a slow, barely perceptible rate. Their bank arrangements work fairly well, and they don’t find themselves frozen out of the financial system too often.

Of course, this isn’t the reality for the majority of the world’s population, who suffer under inflationary regimes, or politicized and untrustworthy banking systems. But the views of American coastal elites are far overrepresented in the discourse, so the press is replete with confused assessments of this purportedly useless monetary scheme. But understanding the purpose of Bitcoin is itself a shibboleth. If you don’t get it, it’s probably not meant for you.

Eric Wall 

Among other things, Eric is the creator of an experimental NFT that tokenizes a personal consulting service based on his experience as a crypto analyst and investor. Too difficult to try to explain in a sentence, but check it out here. Eric’s commemoration today enunciates even more aspects of Bitcoin’s unique properties not just as a concept and technology, but as an all-too-rare occurrence where a crazily powerful and meaningful idea takes root and becomes a global phenomenon.

Our world doesn’t seem like a place where an email on a cryptographic mailing list can really make a dent on this world. No matter how cool of an idea you may have for some distributed system, it’s never going to be the type of thing that could ever really become talked about in the mainstream. Let alone become a new asset, listed on the same finance pages as oil, stocks or gold.

In 2008, human kind did not seem like the kind of place that would embrace an idea like Bitcoin. The modern world wasn’t some ancient Greece where philosophical ideas were exchanged and listened to—we were already on a fast-track toward idiocracy by then.

But Bitcoin really did become that idea. It’s one of those rare, once in a generation type of things where the good guys win, the good idea wins. What happened 15 years ago with Bitcoin is the kind of stuff for history books. The journey it has taken from a pdf to where it is today is one of the most insane things to ever have occurred in our lives.

Pete Rizzo

Editor at Bitcoin Magazine, Editor-at-Large at Kraken and a contributor to Forbes, I give Pete a pass for calling himself on his website “the definitive writer on Bitcoin and crypto” because a) the “archival research” he does on Bitcoin’s history is important and b) he writes about the people and events that most impacted its development – something that is far too rare in journalism generally and especially the coverage of crypto. Today Pete published an article in Forbes highlighting these salient points:

  1. The White Paper is Only 9 Pages
  2. No One Knows Who Wrote the White Paper
  3. The White Paper was widely critiqued when released
  4. Bitcoin Only Appears Twice in the White Paper
  5. Satoshi Wrote Code Before He Wrote the White Paper
  6. The White Paper Doesn’t Include the Word Blockchain or Cryptocurrency
  7. The Most Common Word in the White Paper is Block
  8. 10 People Are Cited in the Bitcoin White Paper
  9. Parts of the White Paper Are No Longer Being Worked on by Developers
  10. The White Paper Is Hosted on Many Websites Around the World
  11. The White Paper Was Embedded on Every Mac Computer, But Was Later Removed
  12. Twitter Creator Jack Dorsey Once Called the White Paper ‘Poetry’
  13. Kraken Put the White Paper on an F1 Racer
  14. The White Paper Has Been Cited Over 4,000 Times
Documenting ₿itcoin

I only stumbled on this Twitter account today after typing “Bitcoin 15” in the site’s search box, but the short

video in Documenting ₿itcoin’s tweet today deserves at least a view or two for featuring Austrian-British economist and political philosopher F.A. Hayek musing that, “I don’t believe that we should ever have a good money again… All we can do, is by

some sly, roundabout way, introduce something they can’t stop”, followed by a scrolling list of cryptographic innovations set to the theme music for “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

Extra points for the account’s pinned tweet, “Explaining #bitcoin at $100 to an empty room”, which features the inimitable educator Andreas M. Antonopoulos doing just that in 2013, apparently his first-ever of hundreds of talks on Bitcoin, Ethereum and crypto.

Gary Gensler

And now for something completely different, we’ll leave the realm of world-changing ideas to drop in on SEC

Chair Gensler’s flying circus, aka regulation by enforcement action (albeit in the absence of Congressional action). His earlier views as an MIT professor notwithstanding (see Joël Lightbound’s quote above), Gensler took the opportunity to attempt a lame joke in reference to his claim that nearly all crypto tokens are securities, tweeting: “If Satoshi Nakamoto went as Satoshi Nakamoto for Halloween, would we be able to tell? Happy 15th anniversary to Satoshi’s famous white paper that started crypto. Any crypto companies that are tricking investors should start treating them to compliance with the securities laws.” Twitter user @PharaohX33 invoked The Simpsons’ evil Mr. Burns in their apt reply.

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