Eight years ago, on December 12 2010, Satoshi Nakamoto published the last message on Bitcointalk. Asides from email exchanges dating back to April 2011, all of the later interactions coming from Satoshi's accounts lie under a shade of doubt casted by his/her/their (from now on he/his) email being compromised in a hack. His last messages seem to leave certain clues, and many questions.
Two days before Satoshi’s last forum message on Bitcointalk, on the 10th of December of 2010, one Bitcoin was worth just $0,20. Media presence could be counted with the fingers of one hand, and all publications were rather small. A few weeks before, Bitcointalk users had opened a thread to share publications mentioning Bitcoin. There were 6.
Nakamoto is the creator of the website, where he posted the inaugural message back in 2009. Two of the most well known historic accomplishments of the forum are enabling the first Bitcoin transaction ever when Lazlo Hanyecz payed 10,000 BTC for two pizzas, and the coining of the crypto word 'HODL' when a scared investor compelled the community not to sell their coins during a price downtrend.
Read more: Satoshi's account on P2P foundation posts in Arabic, adds friend
On the 10th of December, an article was published in PC World, titled “Could the WikiLeaks Scandal Lead to New Virtual Currency?”. It was the first appearance of Bitcoin in a highly ranked website, and Bitcointalk noticed it readily.
It was a very hot topic. Just 12 days before, five major newspapers from the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Spain had published the first delivery of the WikiLeaks cables, and consequences were dire.
In response to the evidence presented about corruption and repression exerted by their regime, Tunisian citizens were tearing up the streets of their country in what later became the trigger of the Arab Spring, and the U.S. Department of Justice was desperately trying to shut down any bank account or website they could possibly link to WikiLeaks.
Read more: Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
Did Wikileaks cause Satoshi to dissappear?
Satoshi never wanted the limelight on top of his project on such an angle, judging from his own statements. He gave a pretty clear one when a Bitcointalk user started a thread searching for WikiLeaks contact details in order to offer them Bitcoin as an alternative fund management solution.
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No, don't "bring it on".
The project needs to grow gradually so the software can be strengthened along the way.
I make this appeal to WikiLeaks not to try to use Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a small beta community in its infancy. You would not stand to get more than pocket change, and the heat you would bring would likely destroy us at this stage.
As expected from that first message, when the PC World article came out 10 days later, talking mostly about Bitcoin but mentioning only WikiLeaks in the headline, Satoshi was probably in angst of what could happen to the first cryptocurrency ever created.
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It would have been nice to get this attention in any other context. WikiLeaks has kicked the hornet's nest, and the swarm is headed towards us.
As seen on his last public message, 8 year ago today, Satoshi had several doubts about Bitcoin’s vulnerabilities. By the tone, he appears concerned enough as to justify on technical terms not teaming up with WikiLeaks. It is not clear if he agreed with the same principles guiding Julian Assange, but there is no reason to think that he would have avoided teaming up on political grounds only. In 2010, the technology, put simply, wasn’t ready yet for such exposure, he appears to have thought.
Nakamoto could very well have several points in common with Assange. On a 2008 exchange with the cryptography emailing list, Satoshi stated:
'Governments are good at cutting off the heads of a centrally controlled networks like Napster, but pure P2P networks like Gnutella and Tor seem to be holding their own'.
And in 2009, while presenting Bitcoin to P2P foundation he wrote the following:
'Banks must be trusted to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve. We have to trust them with our privacy, trust them not to let identity thieves drain our accounts. Their massive overhead costs make micropayments impossible'.
DoS attacks: Satoshi greatest fear?
What was then stopping Satoshi from joining Wikileaks in their quest against world governments, which also had many bankers in panic? As his own messages prove, the small size of the community was an issue, specially when taking in mind denial of service attacks. That is what Satoshi's last post on Bitcointalk was mostly about:
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There's more work to do on DoS, but I'm doing a quick build of what I have so far in case it's needed, before venturing into more complex ideas. The build for this is version 0.3.19.
- Added some DoS controls
As Gavin and I have said clearly before, the software is not at all resistant to DoS attack. This is one improvement, but there are still more ways to attack than I can count.
I'm leaving the -limitfreerelay part as a switch for now and it's there if you need it.
- Removed "safe mode" alerts
"safe mode" alerts was a temporary measure after the 0.3.9 overflow bug. We can say all we want that users can just run with "-disablesafemode", but it's better just not to have it for the sake of appearances. It was never intended as a long term feature. Safe mode can still be triggered by seeing a longer (greater total PoW) invalid block chain.
As mentioned up to three times in this short, last message of his, Satoshi was well aware that Bitcoin's main weakness at the time were DoS attacks. In theory, a node could be overwhelmed by lots of data being send to it, up to the point that it could not process normal Bitcoin transactions anymore. Certain DoS prevention was build in already, but it appears that under Nakamoto's view, in no way it could have standed the type of pressure that a collaboration with WikiLeaks could have brought up on the network.
Read more: The 'comebacks' of Satoshi Nakamoto since the day of his last message
Further possible consequences, not mentioned by Satoshi on this Bitcointalk post, could arise from the association of political motives. In an email to Hal Finney in late 2008, Satoshi wrote the following:
'It's very attractive to the libertarian viewpoint if we can explain it properly. I'm better with code than with words though'.
He was replying to an assertion from Finney, stating that the useful social nature of the Bitcoin system could be enough to trigger people to run the network out of simple altruism, as it was the case during the early times, when fiat prices were irrelevant.
Read more: Jimmy Song debunks 'fake' tweet signed by Satoshi Nakamoto
Is the person who invented a way to make electronic transactions non reliant on trust not verbally skilled, as he mentioned to Finney? The difficulty of tracing back Satoshi's motives, is not so much due to that Satoshi was better with code than with words: its more that most of his words, were about code.
Read more: At what price will Bitcoin make Satoshi Nakamoto the world's richest?