An interview with Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of blockchain

A New York Times’ reporter travelled back in time to interview Satoshi Nakamoto in 2010, the year which marked his invention’s first anniversary:

NYT: So, Mr. Nakamoto, I’ve just arrived from 2017 and, boy, you have no idea all the fuss going on, and it’s all your fault! Your invention is rocking! Everyone’s talking about it! From Silicon Valley to Wall Street, it’s the hottest technology right now. How do you feel about having created something so revolutionary?

SN: Flattered and surprised. I knew I was designing something disruptive and innovative, but never imagined bitcoin would have this level of adoption in such a short period of time.

NYT: No, no. Blockchain is what I’m talking about, the technology behind bitcoin, the one that is really promissing.

SN: Block… what?

NYT: Blockchain.

SN: What does it mean?

NYT: Well, it’s the technology that powers bitcoin, the truly revolutionary part of this invention, everyone is fascinated by blockchain.

SN: Oh, you must be referring to the proof-of-work chain, right?

NYT: Excuse me, Mr. Nakamoto, but the revolution is called blockchain. Now, proof-of-work chain? Why would you use such a term?

SN: Because that is precisely its nature: a chain of transaction blocks cryptographically linked to one another, in a chronological order, through a proof of computation. It is an unbreakable chain, thus immutable, thanks to the enormous hashing power expended to solve the proof-of-work mathematical problem.

NYT: Immutable? How so? Nowadays there are several blockchains the transactions of which can be reversed, should its developers so desire. There are so-called private blockchains where access is thoroughly vetted. It is indeed a new and revolutionary industry. And the banks are all over it seeking to utilize it in their businesses.

SN: Are banks adopting bitcoin?

NYT: Not bitcoin, Mr. Nakamoto, blockchain! Have you heard of Corda? Well, maybe not Corda, since they’ve actually acknowledged they don’t need a blockchain. But anyway, banks have a keen interest in blockchain technology to enable closed distributed ledger systems, and that’s all thanks to your invention.

SN: But bitcoin is an open system where anyone can participate. What does that have to do with my invention whatsoever?

NYT: Why do you insist on talking about bitcoin? The revolution is the blockchain. Ask any Central Bank these days and you’ll see how inspired they are by the technology. A lot of them are in fact developing projects to launch their very own currencies on blockchain. Imagine a purely digital version of a Federal Reserve note, cryptocurrency issued by the Fed!

SN: Look, now you’ve lost me. Are you telling me the Federal Reserve is investigating whether to issue its own electronic cash?

NYT: Not only the Fed, the Bank of England too!

SN: But how in hell is that comparable to bitcoin? A digital currency issued by a centralized entity, capable of inflating it at will, confiscate it and determine who is apt or not to use it? And they want to call it a “cryptocurrency”?

NYT: I know! Revolutionary, isn’t it?

SN: I’d say devolutionary…

NYT: To wrap it up, one last question: if you travelled forward to 2017 and they put you back in charge of bitcoin, I mean, blockchain, what would you do?

SN: Nothing. That’s the whole point of bitcoin. There is nothing I can do. I can’t alter anything. I have no say. Not even if I wanted to. Nobody controls it individually. That’s why bitcoin is so robust. That’s why it’s censorship resistant. That’s why it’s revolutionary. And that’s why it will change the world.

NYT: But what about blockchain?

SN: [sigh]….

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