[Invited keynote at International Conference on Financial Cryptography and Data Security 2015]
When Bitcoin was invented six years ago (cf. ), Barack Obama had just been inaugurated president and Lady Gaga had just released her first big single. If you are 20 years old, that probably seems like forever ago. If you are 48 like me, that seems like not all that long ago. I first heard about Bitcoin in 2010, and was attracted to it because it combined economics, peer-to-peer networking and crypto in a really interesting way.
I’m going to talk about what we have learned over the last six years. Satoshi knew a lot, but he wasn’t omniscient—I think there were a lot of things, both big and small, that he didn’t know when he was inventing Bitcoin. I will finish by talking about some things that I think we still do not know.
[What he did not know:
- would Bitcoin bootstrap? Would it be used for anti-email spam?
- was it legal?
- how people would attack Bitcoin for no particular reason, with silly things like sending spam transactions back and forth
- formal cryptography like Schnorr signatures or Lamport signatures, or cutting-edge cryptographic research on anonymity (or future developments in homomorphic encryption & SNARKs or ZK-SNARKs)
- formal validity of transactions: validity and semantic meaning
- how to scale Bitcoin to large numbers of transaction]