Stornetta invites audience to dream big and make the world a better place
What Stuart Haber and Scott Stornetta described in their 1991 research paper has earned them a well-deserved place in the halls of blockchain history. Speaking at at the Malta Blockchain Summit, early blockchain inventor and Chief Scientist at Yugen Partners, Stornetta, offered a perspective that went a little further back than the early nineties – 450 years back in fact. Taking a historical perspective he said, can gain you ‘additional predictive power’.
He offers up a Haiku: “An ancient problem finds a digital answer, opportunity, yes but how to move wisely.”
Stornetta expands his theory by taking his audience back to the Great Siege of Malta; he explains how the history-making moment ties neatly into his vision of what blockchain is. He warms up to his analogy, describing how the blockade preventing silver and gold ships from entering the port resulted in a new coin being forged. The new coin was inscribed with a phrase that is still pertinent today – ‘it’s not the metal, but the trust’. It’s this concept that is at the heart of what he was trying to do when he started building his theories.
Chief Scientist at Yugen Partners is an apt title for Stornetta. An aficionado of Japanese culture and a fluent speaker of the language, Stornetta chose the name Yugen because it means having deep insight, a quality that is evident on hearing him speak.
He coins his early work, the ‘proto blockchain’. The solution for him and partner, Dr. Haber, came one day when standing in line in a restaurant waiting for a table, where they had been trying to construct a proof that showed it was not possible to create an immutable record without some sort of trusted third party.
“In constructing the proof, we realised that the problem could be solved by creating a conspiracy that involved the entire world, one could invert the problem, leading to the solution that we had proposed which gave us an immutable record with the world as witnesses. We didn’t call it a blockchain but it certainly involved a chain of blocks that were widely distributed.”
A key moment came as Stornetta demonstrated how to build a blockchain on gizllion.org. After bringing 3 people who had registered earlier up on stage, he had them select three cryptocurrencies, he then offered the public an incredible opportunity to predict the price of those currencies. The closest entry wins a basket of $1000 worth of cryptocurrencies – bought on the 10th anniversary of the Satoshi paper.
Stornetta ends by inviting the audience to make their own entry into the blockchain: “There’s an enormous space other than what Satoshi kicked off the party with and I invite you to dream big in thinking about how you can enter this design space and make the world a better place. I hope that as you pursue your own dreams you don’t lose sight of the original trust that we wanted to be implicit in this original work that we did. It helps build the entire community.”
Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Scott Stornetta – so watch this space!