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Author Topic: 2013-04-14 Paul Graham: Why would a government have created bitcoin?  (Read 1250 times)
n8rwJeTt8TrrLKPa55eU
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April 21, 2013, 06:01:53 PM
 #1

Post on hackernews.  Not strictly a press article, but relevant and interesting given the reputation of the thread creator (VC + founder of YCombinator, who funds Coinbase).  293(!) comments.

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I've long suspected bitcoin was created by a government. Bulletproof protocols usually require peer review, yet there have been zero leaks from the reviewers. Pools of crypto guys who don't leak stuff are usually employed by governments.

The part that puzzles me is why a government would do this. I can imagine several possibilities:

1. To finance their own black operations.

2. Because they thought digital currencies were inevitable, and they preferred bitcoin to some potentially more malevolent form. (Could bitcoin have been worse from a government's point of view?)

3. A friend suggested this: because they felt their currency would never become the standard reserve currency, and they felt it was better that no one's be if theirs couldn't be.

4. A variant of the above: the US did it because it seemed inevitable that the dollar would eventually lose its place as the standard reserve currency, and better to have it replaced by bitcoin that the yuan.

I realize some of these explanations are pretty far fetched, but so is an individual cooking up bitcoin as an intellectual exercise. Whatever the explanation of bitcoin's origin turns out to be, it will probably be pretty weird.

Anyone have opinions about these possible explanations, or other ones?

Personally, I prefer Occam's razor unless concrete evidence is presented to prove otherwise.  Lone gunman.  No conspiracy.
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April 21, 2013, 06:08:33 PM
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Too little info to base that on, and nothing new to back it up. If it was a government project, political support would have happend now infrastructure for Bitcoin would also have been in prep for years involving a lot of people, not something capable of staying a secret.
However any nation with a weak currency will blame the US government when their citizens stuff Bitcoins in their mattresses.


 
 
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April 21, 2013, 07:52:34 PM
 #3

Now picked up as news on various places:

http://www.benzinga.com/general/politics/13/04/3511574/legendary-vc-paul-graham-suspects-bitcoin-was-created-by-a-government
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April 21, 2013, 10:06:00 PM
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If it were part of the Governments operational plans, you wouldn't have public officials condemning it in public. They'd go after the drugs and money laundering - or at least seem to - without pointing the finger at bitcoin being the "threat".

I also subscribe to the simplest explanation being the most likely. It was a piece of disruptive tech cobbled together by a small team, or one person with a bunch of consulting contacts.

This is absurd as saying the web-browser was created by the government so they can back-door all of your activity. They don't need to go that far, just sniff on the major backbone routers (which was exposed via AT&T leaks on Echelon).

Elaborate theories just don't make sense, given the amount of secrecy needed.

fortitudinem multis - catenum regit omnia
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April 21, 2013, 10:48:25 PM
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Elaborate theories just don't make sense, given the amount of secrecy needed.

Yep.  I don't know whether there's ever been a quantitative scientific study, but I'd guess that the odds of a shared secret being leaked rise exponentially based on the number of people involved in the conspiracy and the amount of time elapsed.
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April 21, 2013, 11:43:45 PM
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If it were part of the Governments operational plans, you wouldn't have public officials condemning it in public. They'd go after the drugs and money laundering - or at least seem to - without pointing the finger at bitcoin being the "threat".

The government is not monolithic.  It would be entirely possible that (using the US as an example) the NSA developed it on their own, and most if not all politicians had no knowledge of this.  Heck even a vast majority of people in the NSA could be in the dark.
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April 22, 2013, 06:31:35 AM
 #7

Bitcoin is very much anti-government in its design and function, so I have a hard time imagining parts of the government being involved in its creation. Then again, government is not exactly known for being an entity rich in intelligence...with stupidity being the unwitting tendency towards self-destruction, I think it would make for a nice story if the gov created the thing, which ultimately led to its own death Smiley

It's all bullshit. But bullshit makes the flowers grow and that's beautiful.
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April 23, 2013, 02:29:01 AM
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Bitcoin is very much anti-government in its design and function, so I have a hard time imagining parts of the government being involved in its creation. Then again, government is not exactly known for being an entity rich in intelligence...with stupidity being the unwitting tendency towards self-destruction, I think it would make for a nice story if the gov created the thing, which ultimately led to its own death Smiley

US Government created TOR for its own goals, and the NSA may have created Bitcoin to move its own funds around. Perhaps?
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April 23, 2013, 02:36:34 AM
 #9

The biggest thing I could think of is that they know how to crack the encryption.

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