The most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin (BTC), is filled with conspiracy theories, ranging from the plausible to the downright absurd.
Let’s take a quick look at the most common Bitcoin conspiracy theories for a good laugh or – if you choose to believe them – a peek down the rabbit hole.
On Wednesday, June 20, 2018, a new block was mined on the Bitcoin blockchain. It was a typical block, except that its hash was 00000000000000000021e800c1e8df51b22c1588e5a624bea17e9faa34b2dc4a.
The reason for the excitement around this particular block hash, something many within the community are already familiar with, is a number. First, upon a cursory glance, the number of zeros at the beginning of the block hash was similar to the ones in the block hash of the Genesis Block, or the first block of Bitcoin ever mined.
Given the lengths supposedly undertaken by the pseudonymous creator of BTC, Satoshi Nakamoto, to achieve that hash in the Genesis Block, some believe it to be meaningful. Additionally, it was pointed out that it is highly improbable for the June 2018 hash to be generated at random.
Secondly, the number that came after the first zeros was 21e8. This number is an important one in physics because it refers to the E8 Theory, which is an attempt to describe all known fundamental interactions in physics and to stand as a possible theory of everything.
Possible explanations for the event ranged from a simple chance to AI or Nakamoto’s resurgence and even time travel.
Possibly, the biggest mystery (together with “when moon?”) in the Bitcoin world is its creator Satoshi Nakamoto. It is assumed this was either a person or a group of people working in concert to create the world’s first decentralized digital currency. The people listed as possible Nakamoto candidates reads like the who’s who of the cypherpunk movement, such as Hal Finney, Adam Back, and Nick Szabo, computer scientist, legal scholar, and cryptographer known for his research in cryptocurrency.
Meanwhile, Finey, who died in 2014, was the first-ever recipient of a BTC transaction sent from Satoshi. Also, he was identified as a possible Nakamoto ghostwriter by Newsweek and the New Yorker. In fact, shortly before his death, Forbes wrote about the fact that Finney, a cryptography pioneer, had a neighbor named Nakamoto.
Another computer scientist, Craig S. Wright has infamously claimed to be Nakamoto but has never been able to prove it.
Given the complexity of Bitcoin and the deep understanding of economics showcased by Nakamoto, many are of the opinion that Nakamoto was actually a group of people. Many contend that it is improbable that one person could be so well versed in many different areas of scholarship to create a technological tool so robust that it continues to stand the test of time today.
The etymology of ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ corresponds to knowledge or enlightenment and the middle or center. The vague nature of the words can mean one of two things, either ‘awoken by being at the source’ or ‘central intelligence.’ The latter is a much-speculated theory, that the US National Security Agency (NSA) (or some other government intelligence operation) created the cryptocurrency.
The most quoted evidence backing this theory is the fact that Bitcoin employs a common cryptography tool to create its public and private keys. The theory is that this in itself could provide the NSA with a back door to the Bitcoin blockchain.
Another reason cited by pundits of this theory is the fact that social media threads, on sites like Reddit, which question the NSA/Bitcoin connection are deleted. Finally, even Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin (before his ETH career even started) reportedly said that he “wouldn’t be surprised if [Nakamoto] is actually an American working for the NSA specializing in cryptography. Then he got sick of the government’s monetary policies and decided to create Bitcoin.” He also added: “Or the NSA itself decided to create Bitcoin.”
However, several years later, Buterin clarified that his opinions have changed a lot since his NSA-related statements in 2011.
Blockstream vs. Bitcoin
Blockstream is a blockchain technology company staffed by well-known and well-regarded developers. It is led by aforementioned Adam Back, a cryptographer aligned with the cypherpunk movement. It is through these endeavors where he interacted with Satoshi Nakamoto, corresponding with him, which led to him being cited in the Bitcoin whitepaper.
Blockstream describes itself as “the global leader in Bitcoin and blockchain technology.” Founded in 2014, the company aims to create a range of products and services which should ease the use and adoption of bitcoin and other blockchain-based digital currencies. Blockstream has raised large amounts in its funding rounds since its inception.
To the onlooker, Blockstream should be a well-regarded institution within the space. Meanwhile, for a number within the space, Blockstream seems to be hell-bent on destroying the original intent of Bitcoin with its driving motivations being profit.
However, these accusations can be heard from the Bitcoin Cash (BCH), which is a hard fork of Bitcoin, camp mostly. They claim that Blockstream is against any changes that may scale Bitcoin because they want users to use their proprietary sidechains, such as the Liquid Network.
Given that many of the Bitcoin Core developers also work at Blockstream, this is an “interesting” accusation, to say the least. While it is an old conspiracy theory, it keeps morphing with time.
The AntiChrist and the New World Order
In 2018, a Danish firm called BiChip (which, ironically, seems to be spreading vaccines-related conspiracy theories by itself) released an update to their subdermal chip, allowing people to store the XRP token inside themselves. By writing the chip, users could transact with their XRP holdings. The chip has since expanded its abilities and can now be used by BTC users too.
Conservative and religious circles were quick to point out the similarities between the emerging tech and the ‘mark of the beast.’
The mark of the beast references a theme in the Book of Revelations where people in the end times will be unable to trade without having the mark of the beast, either in their hand or on their forehead. Given the subdermal nature of the chip, speculation was rife and the theory took hold quickly.
That speculation inspired even more end-time related theories, with people claiming that Bitcoin was intended to usher in the New World Order where artificial intelligence would be lord to all. The theory is that AI created Bitcoin, using the prospect of profit as a lure to trap humanity into worshipping it.
In either case, despite all these conspiracists, Bitcoin is about to turn 12 on January 3, the anniversary of the first block in the Bitcoin blockchain mined, and it looks ready to ignore even more and even crazier conspiracy theories going forward.
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