Exclusive Interview: Charles Hoskinson Knows How to Find Satoshi Nakamoto

Interviews
Sun, 04/05/2020 - 09:24
Rimma Trukhina
Who is Satoshi? What will our world look like in 50 years? The Cardano founder shares his ideas on these topics (spoiler: there might be a new religion and immortality)
Cover image via U.Today
Contents

Charles Hoskinson, the famous founder of Cardano, explains how people can find out who Satoshi Nakamoto is, and speaks on the future of our world, new religions and the possibility of immortality. Let’s dive into the third part of our exclusive interview!

Who is Satoshi?

U.Today: John McAfee recently told me that he knows who Satoshi Nakamoto is, do you think that's possible? Do you have your own guesses who it could be?

Charles Hoskinson: Well, I'll tell you how to find out if you're really interested. So, what you can do is use stylometry. This is a term for the analysis of handwriting or analysis of writing. Code Stylometry is the analysis of actual source code. So, the original Bitcoin code was 100% written by Satoshi.

What you can do is you can apply stylometric techniques to that code and apply it to all the open-source projects that have ever been written and there's a very high probability you're going to find a match between that code and other code and then transitively you can follow it. You probably can get a really good idea of who that person could be. 

If you have to speculate on age range and speculate on skill sets, you're looking at somebody in their forties to fifties at the time of the publication Bitcoin. So, they’re now in their fifties or sixties, were educated in the 1980s or early nineties, and brought up in a very particular school of computer science. Bitcoin script, alone, gives you a lot of indication of where that person was trained because it was based on a language called Forth, which is a very uncommon language, but it was used mostly in computer science pedagogy, especially in England and in the Eastern United States during that time period.

So, that's somebody who probably has an academic background. Somebody who has a lot of knowledge of cryptography, especially because of the choice of the elliptic curve and the fact that he was able to create things like Base 58 and things like that. It's clearly a person who had computer science training. The overly academic C++ code was a good indication of somebody trained to know how to code but not be a professional engineer. Cause there was a lot of cleaning and optimization and technical debt reduction that would have happened. And then Code Stylometry will probably give you a pretty good idea of the candidates for that. 

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I've never done that exercise but I know people who have and they have a pretty good idea of who Satoshi is, given facts and circumstances. But it's never been an interest to me because, frankly, that person left the ecosystem and doesn't want to be doxed and Bitcoin has operated just fine since 2012. It's been eight years now and we haven't had any issues. So why do we need to bring the founder back?

I think the power here is that certain people want to say they’re Satoshi or say they know Satoshi because it gives them a special prestige. It's almost like you're the Pope and you speak for God, right? You can then use that pulpit to influence people to use your product, like Bitcoin SV for example, or, at the very least, make yourself seem cooler or more interesting. 

I mean, the reality is, as great as Satoshi’s contributions were to cryptocurrencies, just what we've done at IOHK is significantly more meaningful. We formalized everything from what a ledger is to showing that proof of work can be resistant to quantum computers. We solved the proof of stake problem. We designed significantly better programming languages. We extended the UTXO model, approved by simulation with a special type of state machine. I mean this is foundational work done by dozens of academics and the totality of it is unbelievably better than anything Satoshi can construct. At the peak, our system could probably perform at a million transactions per second. Satoshis’ can do it at seven. I mean, these are just facts.

So, as much as we venerate the founder and recognize the brilliance there, it’s important to understand that the space, as a whole, has moved on, from a scientific and technological viewpoint. It's important also to understand that that was just one person or a collection of people. And now there are millions of people in this industry. And the whole point of the vision was to say that no one was more special than anyone else.

We're all equal and we all have the same voice. Get rid of the leaders, get rid of the centralization. So it'd be very counterproductive for a Satoshi to return to this space at this stage because it would just centralize a big chunk of the movement around an individual.

The point is to get rid of those individuals and empower everybody at the edges. So, I have the most respect, not for the science, but the most respect for the fact that he knew when to leave and retire and get out of the way of his invention and allow that invention to grow to where it's grown to, and decentralize it naturally.

50 years from now...

U.Today: That’s very interesting. I never thought about it from that angle, you know. I've got only one question left and I’m really eager to hear your thoughts on it because it’s kind of your thing. What do you think the web will look like 50 years from now?

Charles Hoskinson: Actually, this exercise was done by Arthur C. Clarke. I believe, back in the 1950s, he was a science fiction writer and he got most of it right. He predicted the internet and a litany of other things. So, I guess you ask a science fiction writer if you want an accurate estimate.

The challenge 50 years from now is that we see the seeds of a lot of very earth-shattering, earth-changing technologies being laid today that will be fully realized at that time period. It's incredibly hard to know how we're going to use those seeds. So the graphene revolution is right now underway and in 50 years graphene will be everywhere in every product. That means indestructible homes and batteries that last five times longer. There was a whole class of metamaterials as well, which means that sensors are becoming orders of magnitude cheaper. Everything from new types of solid-state radar to new types of optics. So, functionally, you're now talking about smart materials.

Wireless power transmission is getting really good. It's something people are thinking about. So, all your surfaces will be potentially electrified. Battery-powered cars will become predominant within probably the next 20 years. So, in 50 years, there will be probably no internal combustion engines anymore. They'll be gone and you'll have cars that go 4,000 or 5,000 miles on a single charge. All those things will be there. Probably, battery-powered planes, also because of graphene, will be commonplace. 

So, the backbone of our energy grid will probably be no fossil fuels and 100% alternative or nuclear fusion, probably combined with some fourth-generation nuclear plants which will have been built in the 2030s and 2040s. The smart materials will be so smart that everything will be VR and AR.

Your glasses and surfaces will be able to just present information that's contextual. We're also seeing an enormous amount of growth in biotechnology and so there's a very strong possibility that implantable consumer-grade medical devices will become commonplace. For example, that company Neuralink, that Elon Musk funded. He created the first brain-computer interface. It's implantable. Within 10 years that's going to be consumer-grade. Within 50 years that'll be commonplace and highly competitive. which functionally means that human beings can just think and connect to computers and computers can go back to them.

So, all those interfaces will be completely built. When you walk into a room, the room knows who we are and we can just think to control the room and all the surfaces will be smart surfaces and so you can see anything, hear anything, do anything. It also means that we'll change the way we communicate with each other. If we have brain-computer interfaces, we can think to each other.

Telepathy can be something that could exist within a 50-year timeframe. So you just think to talk to somebody. Not just in the same room but, because of the internet, everywhere. 

There's going to be huge innovations in physics. We have things like time crystals. Now we have things like quantum teleportation. These are theoretical constructs. We're going to continue seeing enormous advancements in them, especially in quantum cryptography. So, we'll have completely new ways of handling communication.

What's really cool is communication without a medium. Right now, when you want to send a signal, it goes from point A to point B over a medium like air or wire. Well, you could technically just entangle things far away so you can't intercept messages anymore. It's pretty crazy stuff. A huge amount of advancements in quantum physics, but then also quantum computing as well, especially given that quantum computers can emulate a lot of these quantum physics so we can get a dramatically better understanding of how the universe works.

Consumer-grade quantum computers are probably coming in 20-30 years. So all that stuff is going to be there. And then the thing about quantum computers is that that computing model allows us to think about problems that humanity has never been able to solve because they can't be solved within the lifespan of a human or the lifespan of the universe. 

So all these, like NP complete style problems could somehow be reduced to polynomial time, meaning that you can now analyze gargantuan sets of data or find patterns we never thought were possible. So that means all kinds of new questions can be asked and all kinds of knowledge can be gained as a result of the quantum revolution. A corollary to that is that there's probably going to be the emergence of a semi-strong or strong AI within that timeframe because the economic incentives are so great to construct these things. So, a lot of people call this a singularity.

Whatever connotations you want to put on it, it's likely going to occur within that timeframe in my view. And what that functionally means is that we, again, have a new realm of thinking that we didn't have before. And there's a very strong possibility that we will use these modes of thinking to tackle ethical problems, governance problems and resource allocation problems by collective consensus.

What that functionally means is that we'll probably see new forms of government be created where we start dividing the things you can trust humans to do and the things historically humans are very bad at dealing with. For example, this quarantine response to this global pandemic. Imagine 50 years in the future, if you had a strong AI that had control over quarantine protocols. If we had this back in December it would have done all the models and realized that, naturally, we couldn't stop this, and ordered a global quarantine for all countries for a month. Then just by doing that, the coronavirus pandemic would have been over. We would have no more growth. Like in China where they did the most draconian of a shutdown, there are no domestic cases. All the new cases are imported.

So had every country just shut down for a month and enforced a strict quarantine protocol and had proper governance for that, the entire virus would be gone. We wouldn't have to watch 20 million people die, economic calamity and so forth.

It could have actually done things to mitigate the economic calamity like institute for that time period of universal basic income and make sure that certain supply chains were in place and so forth. You can't do that with human skill coordination, but you could do that with strong AI coordination. So, these tools will be in our tool bag and there'll be things that are definitely there. 

We'll also see tremendous strides in life extension. There's a huge market for that. There’s a massive amount of funding going into that. And we're getting a deeper understanding of why things age. Nature tells you everything. There are, actually, creatures that live forever. For example, there's a breed of jellyfish that every time it gets old, it'll just form, assist, regenerate itself and become young again. So they technically are biologically immortal. They kind of just float around like trash bags, but they’re immortal jellyfish. And so you think about that and you say, “Okay, well what does that mean”? It means that if we can kind of master those techniques, we can port them to humans.

So, there's probably going to be a considerable amount of improvement in regenerative biology and an improvement in human lifespan extension and new therapies and medicines to keep us healthy into our deep old age. So then, what does that mean? It means you have a human race that doesn't recycle every 80 years. They may last a lot longer. So there's probably going to be a higher priority put on sustainability and a higher priority, socially speaking, put on wisdom and so forth. 

We see a huge surge of secularism occurring. The religiosity of people is diminishing and that's probably going to be a trend that continues. So, there's going to be far fewer Christians and Muslims and religious Jews and so forth in the 2060s, or the 2070s, as there are today.

What will likely happen is new religions will be formed. You kind of already see the seeds of that. For example, the singularity movement. Yuval Harari feels that it is a religion. I think he's right. They have a savior. The strong AI is coming. It will make peace on earth and solve all of our problems and people believe in it, not even with scientific basis. They just have blind faith that progress will get us there.

There was another religion called Dataism, saying all data should be free and open. So, there are these full new philosophies and concepts that exist and they will continue to percolate and change humanity's outlook and perspective and will allow us to deal with the problems of the time.

In the past, three things that really dragged humanity down were war, famine and disease. So, most religions were constructed to allow us to address those problems. Now, moving into the 21st century, we're going to live in a time of unlimited plenty. We will grow more food than we need at some point. We'll cure the diseases that tend to kill us. And war is really becoming a thing of the past. We still have them, but they're not like World War Two, where the whole globe falls into conflict, they're more like a superpower goes and beats up on a small group of rebels or something like that. Or a small nation-state gets taken over by a larger nation-state. So, we might still have large conflicts, but they're more unlikely because of the weapons that we have today. 

What does that mean? It means that the religions we constructed to deal with those problems are no longer relevant or necessary. So, in the 2060s and 2070s, there'll be religions that deal with the consequences of a lack of meaning in life, consequences of overabundance and the consequences of living a lot longer. Also, they will deal with the consequences of social relationships being a bit weird, considering we have internet and telepathy and all these other cool things going on.

So, the way you interact and think about people will be fundamentally different. Those are going to be new social challenges that priors constructs were incapable of dealing with. So it's going to be a pretty interesting time. And that's just a small sample of the things that I think are going to come in the next 50 years.

U.Today: This was incredibly interesting and, now I know much more about what's happening in that realm. Thanks so much. Thank you for your time. 

Charles Hoskinson: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.

If you like this interview, you can find parts one and two here and here.

About the author

Rimma has already worked in crypto media for 5 years. She’s an Editor at U.Today. She also worked as a Head of Social Media at Cointelegraph before. Her greatest interest is focused on the influence of opinion leaders on the crypto community, the latest blockchain developments, crypto adoption, and how all of this affects our daily lives. She can be contacted at rimma@u.today


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