Elon Musk Probably Invented Bitcoin

Sahil Gupta
Nov 22, 2017 · 3 min read
Walter Isaacson asks Elon Musk about Bitcoin — Link

1. Satoshi Nakamoto is probably Elon Musk

2. Elon Musk is today’s Ben Franklin

3. Bitcoin could be more useful with Elon’s guidance

1. Satoshi is probably Elon

Is Elon capable of inventing Bitcoin? Probably.

  • The 2008 Bitcoin paper was written by someone with a deep understanding of economics and cryptography. Elon founded and wrote production internet software for Zip2 and X.com / Paypal.

Would he have wanted to create it? Probably.

  • It was 2008 (Great Recession), and he may have been motivated to solve the lack of trust in banks by creating a currency that doesn’t need them.

Does the original Bitcoin paper sound like Elon? Somewhat.

  • The hallmark reasoning from first principles. The order-of-magnitude calculations. And in forum posts, casual use of “bloody hard.”

Would Elon have stayed anonymous for 10 years? Probably, on principle.

  • Satoshi created Bitcoin as a peer-to-peer currency that wouldn’t need a central authority.

Did Elon reveal his identity in 2014 with this tweet? Maybe.

  • The tweet came one week after this Satoshi forum post.

Can Elon not own any bitcoin and still be Satoshi? Yes.

  • Elon has said publicly he doesn’t own any bitcoin, which is consistent with a “Good Satoshi” who deleted his private keys. This means Satoshi’s one million coins (worth about $8 billion as of November 2017) are gone for good.

Could Satoshi be a group of people led by Elon? Probably not.

  • Satoshi could be a collaboration of Musk, Nick Szabo, and Hal Finney. But it seems more likely that Elon read their research papers, took inspiration from them, and built the product solo.

Would Elon choose a pseudonym that’s an anagram for “So a man took a shit?”

  • Of course.

2. Musk is like Franklin

Elon identifies the most urgent problems of our time and spends his time to solve them: sustainable energy, multiplanetary life, AI safety.

Ben Franklin, likewise, “did what needed to be done, at the time it needed to be done.” He was a polymath entrepreneur who also wrote public pamphlets for the general good, e.g. “A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper-Currency.”

Franklin’s pseudonym of choice? “Silence Dogood.”

Franklin and Musk have a few other fun things in common. Both

3. Bitcoin could use his help

Bitcoin has some problems. It had a major split in August and just avoided another this month. It takes at least 10 minutes to verify a transaction and its throughput is 5000 times less than that of credit cards.

If Elon is Satoshi, it seems like this knowledge would become public at some point anyway. But if it were public now, Elon could offer guidance as the currency’s “founding father.” (Vitalik Buterin does this for Ethereum.) Elon could coordinate changes in the block size and the lightning network and make bitcoin more useful.

Elon – if you are Satoshi, thank you. If not, well, thanks for the Tesla Roadster.


how hackers start their afternoons.

Sahil Gupta

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how hackers start their afternoons.

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