Friday, September 29, 2023

Thirteen years back on this very date, Satoshi Nakamoto, the enigmatic architect of Bitcoin, made a declaration that has echoed across diverse spheres ever since. Nakamoto’s iconic retort, “If you don’t believe me or don’t get it, I don’t have time to try to convince you, sorry,” was his terse reply to queries regarding potential resolutions for Bitcoin’s transaction speed and double-spending dilemmas.

Commemorating the 13th Anniversary of Nakamoto’s Resonating Remark

During the summer of 2010, Satoshi Nakamoto was an active participant in the emerging domain of digital currency, tirelessly guiding Bitcoin’s evolution and engaging in vibrant online debates. In the span of two weeks – from July 2 to July 17, 2010 – Nakamoto offered 73 thoughtful replies on specific topics in conversations hosted on bitcointalk.org. It was on this bustling platform, on July 29, 2010, where Nakamoto famously asserted, “If you don’t believe me or don’t get it, I don’t have time to try to convince you, sorry,” in a thread aptly named “Scalability and transaction rate.”

In response to another crypto advocate’s assertion that “10 minutes is too long to verify that payment is good. It needs to be as fast as swiping a credit card is today,” Nakamoto referred to a previously discussed solution:

Refer to the snack machine thread, I detail how a payment processor could validate payments efficiently, in fact, exceptionally well (with a much lower fraud rate than credit cards), within roughly 10 seconds or less. If you don’t believe me or don’t get it, I don’t have time to try to convince you, sorry.

The Thread on the Snack Machine

In a thread titled “snack machine,” Nakamoto linked to a discussion regarding the challenge of enabling quick transactions for minor purchases, like those from a vending machine using BTC. The inherent problem is that BTC transactions require some time to be confirmed on the blockchain, opening a window for potential double-spending before the transaction is approved. Solutions such as debit accounts, escrow services, and prepaid accounts were discussed as ways to facilitate fast transactions without waiting for blockchain confirmations.

A screenshot of Satoshi Nakamoto’s “rough back-of-the-envelope example.”

Bitcoin’s confirmation time averaging around ten minutes poses a problem for vendors who need instantaneous transaction processing to deliver products immediately. However, without confirmations, individuals could double-spend BTC, thereby defrauding the system or vendor. In the bitcointalk.org thread, one suggestion was to use an escrow service to facilitate instant transfers between accounts while still carrying out blockchain confirmations, although this would introduce third-party costs.

Nakamoto proposed a solution wherein a payment processor would monitor for double-spending attempts and alert before a transaction becomes widespread across the network. This would thwart most double-spending attacks. Nakamoto then gave a straightforward example of how swiftly a transaction could permeate the network.

Both the “Scalability and transaction rate thread” and the “snack machine thread” provide an exclusive peek into Satoshi’s problem-solving methods.

In Nakamoto’s example, even a slight lead for one transaction can result in its rapid network propagation, outpacing any double-spending attempts. This demonstrates the exponential growth characteristic of transaction propagation—a slight early advantage can create a significant lead due to the geometric (exponential) nature of network propagation.

“Should a double-spend have to wait even a second, it suffers a significant setback,” wrote Nakamoto. “The payment processor maintains connections with multiple nodes. When it receives a transaction, it broadcasts it widely and simultaneously scans the network for double-spends. If it detects a double-spend on any of its numerous listening nodes, it sends an alert about the fraudulent transaction.” Nakamoto further elaborated:

A double-spending transaction wouldn’t progress far without one of the listeners detecting it. The double-spender would have to wait until the listening phase concludes, but by that time, the payment processor’s broadcast has reached most nodes, or has gained such a propagation head start that the double-spender stands no chance of influencing a significant portion of the remaining nodes.

The “snack machine thread” has frequently resurfaced in numerous discussions over the years. Nakamoto’s initial response was followed by a succinct reply in a separate post. It is possible that the creator of Bitcoin felt his solution offered in the “snack machine thread” was sufficiently robust or perhaps other obligations demanded his attention that day, leading to a more condensed response.

While Nakamoto’s precise motivations remain a puzzle, his assertion about the lack of time to explain has since become part of Bitcoin’s broader narrative. It is revered as a pointed saying, symbolizing the inherent challenge in truly understanding the complex workings of Bitcoin.

What is your interpretation of Satoshi’s insight today? We encourage you to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin quote

What was Satoshi Nakamoto’s response to the concerns over Bitcoin’s transaction speed and double-spending issues?

Satoshi Nakamoto responded with the iconic quote, “If you don’t believe me or don’t get it, I don’t have time to try to convince you, sorry.” He further explained a solution in the “snack machine thread” where a payment processor could monitor for double-spend attempts and alert before a transaction propagates across the entire network. This would prevent most double-spending attacks.

What was discussed in the “snack machine thread”?

The “snack machine thread” was a discussion about enabling quick transactions for minor purchases, like from a vending machine, using Bitcoin. Solutions like debit accounts, escrow services, and prepaid accounts were proposed to facilitate fast transactions without waiting for blockchain confirmations.

What solution did Satoshi Nakamoto propose for double-spending attacks?

Nakamoto proposed a solution where a payment processor would monitor for double-spend attempts and alert before a transaction becomes widespread across the network. This would prevent most double-spending attacks. He further illustrated how even a slight lead for a transaction can result in its rapid network propagation, thereby outpacing any double-spending attempts.

What does Nakamoto’s quote “If you don’t believe me or don’t get it, I don’t have time to try to convince you, sorry” signify today?

Nakamoto’s quote has become part of Bitcoin’s broader narrative. It is revered as a pointed saying, symbolizing the inherent challenge in truly understanding the complex workings of Bitcoin. It underscores the notion that comprehension and belief in Bitcoin’s underlying principles require one’s initiative and effort.

More about Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin quote

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5 comments

SatoshiFan July 30, 2023 - 6:28 am

that quote is just timeless, isn’t it? We’re all still tryna catch up to Satoshi’s genius. But it’s articles like this that really help!

Reply
DigitalGoldMiner July 30, 2023 - 4:22 pm

Double spending’s still an issue huh… shows we got a long way to go in crypto. Good thing Satoshi set us on the right path. Good read btw.

Reply
CryptoFan101 July 30, 2023 - 9:52 pm

Wow, never really understood what Satoshi meant by that quote. it’s cool to see it all broken down. Bitcoin really is a game changer, ain’t it?

Reply
BitC0inBeliever July 31, 2023 - 1:37 am

It’s crazy how one person can create somthing so complex and powerful. Satoshi’s wisdom never fails to impress me! Nice one on the break down, mate!

Reply
BlockchainGuru July 31, 2023 - 3:59 am

Great article! I remember when Satoshi first posted this. It was such a different time then. Who knew we’d still be discussing it 13 years later? 🙂

Reply

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