If You Meet Satoshi Nakamoto on the Road, Kill Him

Not literally of course … unless he’s strapped or wielding a shank, in which case go for it

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Well, that’s not a very happy photo, is it?

There is an ancient Zen koan that says,

If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.

There has been quite a lot written about its meaning, and, like most Zen koans, it is not (necessarily) meant to be taken in the literal sense, but is instead meant to serve as a point of reflection.

One of the many meanings attributed to this koan is that one should “let go” of one’s focus or obsession over the Buddha himself because that’s not what Buddhism is about. Given the raging debate in the alternative universe that is often referred to as the “blockchain/crypto space,” over what is the “real Bitcoin” and whether is actually Satoshi Nakamoto, I think it’s time for those of us who operate in the aforementioned alternative universe to take this koan to heart.

I, personally, don’t know who the real Satoshi Nakamoto is, and, quite frankly, I no longer care. That’s because the name “Satoshi Nakamoto” has become a shibboleth. It is used by opposing factions in the blockchain/crypto space, either as a sword (to attack those who support a Bitcoin that is not the “real Bitcoin,” i.e., the one supported by the wielder of the Nakamoto Sword), or a shield (to proclaim that the holder of the Satoshi Shield is in fact defending the only version of Bitcoin that is consistent with “Satoshi’s Vision”). This is complete nonsense.

Similarly, the white paper upon which Bitcoin was based should not be treated as some sort of holy text. It is a technical whitepaper, no different than, e.g., John McCarthy’s “Recursive Functions of Symbolic Expressions and Their Computation by Machine, Part I,” which was published in 1960 and is arguably far more influential and important of a document than the Bitcoin white paper is or ever will be. Yet does anyone regularly threaten one another’s families with bodily harm because they disagree over whether Scheme or Common Lisp (or God-forbid, that upstart Clojure) is the “real Lisp?” Anyone?

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Bitcoin gives “Voodoo Economics” an entirely new meaning…

God, I hope not.

The point, of course, is that getting all hot and bothered about any of this stuff is utterly ridiculous. Add to that the sorts of language and threats normally reserved for the likes of “heretics” and “infidels,” and it’s time for everyone to take a time out and think about why we’re doing any of this. Personally, I think it is because we have failed in two very different ways:

  1. We have exaggerated the importance of blockchain, which, for all its potential, is only a technology, and;
  2. We have ignored one of the fundamental principles of blockchain — decentralization — by succumbing to our natural desire to “belong” to a tribe.

It’s time to fix that. We can start by letting go of Satoshi Nakamoto.

Is Craig Wright the original author of “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System?” Maybe. Maybe not. Whoever it is, I congratulate that person (or people) with creating such a brilliant and influential document. It truly is amazing. And I thank “Satoshi” for releasing it in the public domain. Why this person opted to remain anonymous (or at least out of the public eye, if “Satoshi Nakamoto” is a real name) is none of my (or really anyone else’s) business. In doing so, however, the author of the white paper made it very clear that they wished to disclaim ownership of the idea behind Bitcoin.

I believe it is important that we now honor Satoshi Nakamoto’s wish.

is a licensed U.S.-based intellectual property attorney whose practice focuses on advising individuals and businesses in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. You can find him online at Gulovsen Law Office.

This article was kindly shared with ValueTokenized publication by Grant Gulovsen.

ValueTokenized is a tokenization educational resource.

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