Nakamoto for the Nobel

Thursday 12 November 2015

Satoshi Nakamoto has been nominated for a Nobel Prize, though the odds of him collecting are slim.

Bhagwan Chowdhry, Professor of Finance at UCLA, has nominated the reclusive creator of bitcoin for a Nobel Prize in economics. Each year the Nobel Committee asks several hundred leading lights of various disciplines for their nominations for the different Nobel prizes, but this year Chowdry’s has attracted more attention than most.

Read also: Satoshi's millions: gone for good?


Let's just give the prize to this guy

‘I started thinking whose ideas are likely to have a disruptive influence in the twenty-first century. The name of the inventor of bitcoin suddenly jumped up in my consciousness, and I have not been able to get it out of my mind since then: Satoshi Nakamoto,’ he explained in The Huffington Post

It’s a good nomination, for obvious reasons. Blockchain tech is the big FinTech development of the century so far, and has huge implications. As Chowdry writes:

Not only will Satoshi Nakamoto's contribution change the way we think about money, it is likely to upend the role central banks play in conducting monetary policy, destroy high-cost money transfer services such as Western Union, eliminate the 2-4% transactions tax imposed by intermediaries such as Visa, MasterCard and Paypal, eliminate the time-consuming and expensive notary and escrow services and indeed transform the landscape of legal contracts completely. Many industries such as Banking, Finance, Law will see a big upheaval. The consumers will be big beneficiaries and indeed the poor and marginal sections of the society will reap the benefits of financial and social inclusion in the coming decades. I can barely think of another innovation in Economic and Finance in the last several decades whose influence surpasses the welfare increases that will be engendered by Satoshi Nakamoto's brilliant, path-breaking invention. That is why I am nominating him for the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Of course, no one knows who Nakamoto is. Or where he is. Or whether he is even one person. His publications are limited to the bitcoin white paper, and a lot of posts on bitcointalk, now hidden under the heavy pile detritus generated by a thousand screaming trolls.

Normal protocol is that the Nobel Committee tell the winner by phone, but that’s not going to work in this instance. However, says Chowdry, Satoshi could still be contacted online - and any acceptance could be verified (by PGP-signed message, for example).

He wouldn’t appear in person, but Chowdry has kindly offered to appear on his behalf, and even read a speech that Satoshi would provide beforehand. The prize money could be paid in bitcoin - at 8 million Swedish Kronor, $0.11 to the SEK and $350 per BTC, that’s around 2,500 BTC, or one four-hundredth of the coins Satoshi has already mined. Chowdry has offered to accept that, too, if Satoshi doesn’t want it.

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