I highly recommend the reading of ‘The Innovators’, a book by Walter Isaacson. It covers the digital revolution from the Victorian period with the concept of the modern computer by Ada Lovelace to the present day with the concept and creation of the internet and modern day web. What hits hard in the book is that new ideas and technologies are not revolutionary but simply evolutionary. The digital age was created by ideas that were handed down and expanded upon. Those who thrived in this age were the ones who worked collaboratively as part of a group.
Bitcoin, like many other brilliant technologies has been built on the ideas and theories of others. Cryptography is not a new concept and has existed for millenniums. Sending an encoded message that is free from the spying of others has been a dilemma since before Christ. As soon as we had evolved to work together as groups or tribes, we had to use basic forms of cryptography to hide messages from outsiders. Classic forms of cryptography can be found in Egypt, Greece and Rome and there were many different ways and ideas on how to encrypt a message. Modern forms of cryptography are based on mathematical theory and computer science practices.
Todays cryptographic algorithms are based around computational hardness assumptions, making these algorithms very hard to break. It is theoretically possible to break such a system but in practice an impossibility with todays computers. At first cryptography was something used exclusively by governments but over time cryptography has moved into the public domain. A Cypherpunk movement was organised in the 1990’s so that privacy could be maintained on the internet. Their aim was to stop governments, corporations and other large entities from invading our privacy.
In ‘A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto’ it states “Cypherpunks deplore regulations on cryptography, for encryption is fundamentally a private act. The act of encryption, in fact, removes information from the public realm. Even laws against cryptography reach only so far as a nation’s border and the arm of its violence. Cryptography will ineluctably spread over the whole globe, and with it the anonymous transactions systems that it makes possible.”
While the US Dollar and the Great British Pound are backed by force, bitcoin is backed by math, being transparent and open to all. No longer is trust needed in a central authority to issue a currency. The core protocol of Bitcoin is sound and unbreakable, making a great platform to build new services on top of. The creation of Bitcoin by Satoshi Nakamoto is not revolutionary but simply evolutionary. The idea of cryptography merged in with a number of precursor digital currencies is what led to the creation of Bitcoin. Before Bitcoin existed there were other digital currencies such as Hash Cash by Adam Back and Bit-Gold by Nick Szabo. Bitcoin was not the first but simply the best at solving a problem in trust. Trust in any centralised institution or government. We as humans are corruptible and serve our own interests, but with a technology like Bitcoin the playing field is equal for all.
As mentioned in the first paragraph, those who thrive are the ones who work collaboratively as part of a group. Bitcoin is open to all and will succeed much like the internet because others can build their ideas on top of this open source protocol. Bitcoin is the first truly global currency and will have a profound impact much like the internet of today. Money is now a content type that can be shared freely between anyone much like information and media today. Bitcoin will succeed while others fail as it has the largest community which adds immense value to the system and makes it infinitely more useful in comparison to the competition.