Craig Wright to Bitcoin entrepreneurs: Find problems that actually need solving

There are more problems that Bitcoin could solve than Craig Wright, nChain’s Chief Scientist, can ever deal with: “I have an infinite amount of things that I would happily have people doing. I just don’t have the resources to have an infinite number of people working for me. But the reality is there are so many different problems.”

Dr. Wright was answering questions from the audience at the CambrianSV developers conference in Lisbon in February, in a session chaired by Money Button’s CEO, Ryan X. Charles

He criticised some of the big companies backed by Silicon Valley investors, such as Uber and WeWork—the latter for its self-image as a tech company at all (“I mean, ‘we’re a technology company because we put sensors on the doors’. I mean, really?) Some tech companies pick non-problems, he said: “Problems that are being created so that they can raise money. And what you should be doing is problems that are real problems – and the world is full of them.”

For Craig, there’s too much emphasis on winning venture capital: “Ignore the Silicon Valley idea of you just raise money. What you really need to do is find a way of making something profitable.”

As to where he was putting his own research efforts, in answer to a question about the use of blockchain to design secure voting systems, Craig talked about ways of establishing pseudonymous identities and did admit that “there are some areas that I’m working on at the moment doing all these things. So I know a little bit about it. But because I’m a nasty person who patents everything, I’m not going to actually tell you all the solutions we’ve got until they’re ready.”

Getting down to the basics about the way he, as Satoshi Nakamoto, had designed Bitcoin, Craig talked about SPV—Simple Payment Verification—the system that allows transactions between Bitcoin users to be made directly, peer to peer, as set out in the original White Paper. Whilst blockchain nodes record every transaction on every block, that’s not practical for every user: the system wouldn’t scale if that was required. 

Instead, the individual user has “a lightweight client that doesn’t have the full node, doesn’t keep all the blocks, just maintains block headers and its own information. So it scales a lot better because rather than having to have petabytes of information for every phone in the future, then all you need is the block information, because the reality is that you don’t need to or want to validate every single transaction on earth.” 

Originally, this kind of peer to peer transaction was thought of in terms of IP to IP address, but Craig said there are other systems that could also be used. He mentioned, as an example, a distributed Bluetooth network called Bridgefy, which he said could be useful if a government was trying to close down the Internet: “What do you do? You just turn on Bridgefy and you hop between phones. And you end up with a wide distributed peer network and SPV could be built on something like that as well. So I said IP to IP, but I’d like to see Bridgefy. And I’d like to see all these other protocols as well.”

Craig explained that it wasn’t just financial transactions that could use such a network. Messages could also be attached to transactions and “no one on chain will ever know. So we can privately maintain information as well as publicly exchanging.”

Hear the whole of Dr Craig Wright’s talk with Ryan X. Charles with questions from the audience at Cambrian SV Lisbon in this week’s CoinGeek Conversation podcast:

You can also watch the podcast video on YouTube.

There’s a transcript of the conversation here

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