Thinking Big about Bitcoin Again: Satoshi Nakamoto

Murray Distributed Technologies
4 min readDec 6, 2018


Why should you think big about Bitcoin? Because Satoshi Nakamoto always did.

When it comes to scale, he was clear that scale was never an issue:

There is only one global chain.

The existing Visa credit card network processes about 15 million Internet purchases per day worldwide. Bitcoin can already scale much larger than that with existing hardware for a fraction of the cost. It never really hits a scale ceiling. If you’re interested, I can go over the ways it would cope with extreme size. By Moore’s Law, we can expect hardware speed to be 10 times faster in 5 years and 100 times faster in 10. Even if Bitcoin grows at crazy adoption rates, I think computer speeds will stay ahead of the number of transactions.

  • Satoshi Nakamoto to Mike Hearn in April 2009

Satoshi believed that scaling was something that was solved by market forces, and not centrally planned solutions:

The fee the market would settle on should be minimal. If a node requires a higher fee, that node would be passing up all transactions with lower fees. It could do more volume and probably make more money by processing as many paying transactions as it can. The transition is not controlled by some human in charge of the system though, just individuals reacting on their own to market forces.

  • Satoshi Nakamoto to Mike Hearn in April 2009

Satoshi Nakamoto understood from the beginning that the desire to mine coins would become an “arms race” that he hoped to avoid in the network’s earliest stages:

We should have a gentleman’s agreement to postpone the GPU arms race as long as we can for the good of the network.

  • Satoshi Nakamoto in December 2009

Satoshi Nakamoto understood that the incentive to mine Bitcoins would force miners to become creative and smart about how energy would be expended to mine Bitcoins. Did Satoshi understand just how much mining would drive research and development into renewable energy sources?:

Bitcoin generation should end up where it’s cheapest. Maybe that will be in cold climates where there’s electric heat, where it would be essentially free.

  • Satoshi Nakamoto in August 2010

At “large scale”, Satoshi Nakamoto understood that large businesses would be the ones responsible for mining and users could “just be users”:

The current system where every user is a network node is not the intended configuration for large scale. That would be like every Usenet user runs their own NNTP server. The design supports letting users just be users. The more burden it is to run a node, the fewer nodes there will be. Those few nodes will be big server farms. The rest will be client nodes that only do transactions and don’t generate.

  • Satoshi Nakamoto in July 2010

Satoshi Nakamoto always knew that eventually we shouldn’t care about how big the blockchain would get and an (as yet created) implementation of SPV would solve the problem of new users entering the network:

It would be nice to keep the blk*.dat files small as long as we can.

The eventual solution will be to not care how big it gets.

But for now, while it’s still small, it’s nice to keep it small so new users can get going faster. When I eventually implement client-only mode, that won’t matter much anymore.

  • Satoshi Nakamoto in August 2010

Satoshi Nakamoto understood that the core of the network would reach a limit in the number of (mining) nodes. This is what we have come to realize is the hyper-connected small-world mining core:

I anticipate there will never be more than 100K nodes, probably less. It will reach an equilibrium where it’s not worth it for more nodes to join in. The rest will be lightweight clients, which could be millions.

  • Satoshi Nakamoto in July 2010

Finally, and maybe most importantly, Satoshi Nakamoto understood the urgent need to scale. He understood that the economics of the system meant that we either needed large transaction volume to sustain the incentive for miners to secure the network, or we would have nothing at all.

I’m sure that in 20 years there will either be very large transaction volume or no volume.

  • Satoshi Nakamoto in February 2010

In a private correspondence with Satoshi Nakamoto, Mike Hearn asks Satoshi where he has been. In one of the last messages known of from Satoshi Nakamoto, he responds:

I’ve moved on to other things. It’s in good hands with Gavin and everyone.

  • Satoshi Nakamoto in April 2011

It seems weird that Satoshi Nakamoto would have moved on past Bitcoin, especially with all of these quotes showing that Satoshi Nakamoto always thought big about Bitcoin. When the world has been thinking so small about Bitcoin, why would Satoshi Nakamoto leave it abandoned, doomed to die with inevitably no transaction volume?

But perhaps he never did. Perhaps there was a piece of Satoshi Nakamoto that never stopped working.

Metanet is simply Bitcoin scaled to the globe as the single global ledger. It is everything as Bitcoin. Satoshi’s vision is alive and well with Bitcoin SV.



Murray Distributed Technologies

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