[ExI] Fwd: Bitcoin el salvador?

spike at rainier66.com spike at rainier66.com
Mon Sep 6 11:26:08 UTC 2021



From: extropy-chat <extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org> On Behalf Of Giulio Prisco via extropy-chat

>…There was not much discussion on Bitcoin on this list at the beginning. Of course there was Hal, but I don't remember Hal posting much about Bitcoin here.





He didn’t.  There was a lotta list traffic back in those days (about 1997) so when a topic was saturating the list, we would form a subgroup and take it offlist.  We did that with politics in general, gun rights, privacy rights, that kinda thing, but in those days I was really caught up in Prime95, which was a systematic effort to find new Mersenne primes.  It was a background process that ran 24/7 at low priority so you would never notice it except for higher power bills and perhaps the fan running always on your computer.


If you recall I was always going on about that.  


There was a forum for Prime95, where I used to hang out.  In August 1997, an online acquaintance Gordon Spence discovered the 36th Mersenne prime on a junky old computer which was quite outdated by then, a 100 mHz Pentium Gordon was going to toss but left it running in the back room on this program.  Its resale value at that time was probably about twenty bucks.  It found M36.


On that Mersenne forum, someone posted: Hey Gordon, I will give you ten thousand dollars for that computer.  He posted: Ha.  Serious offers only please.


Turns out Gordon did sell that computer, we don’t know who ended up with it or how much was paid, but the computer became a collector’s item, a geek trophy.


Then it occurred to me that the number itself was an even bigger geek trophy and was itself worth a pile of money to anyone who wants his name to go on a short list of people who discovered the largest known prime at the time of discovery, the same short list of about 40 people which has early computer pioneers, Leonard Euler, ancient Greeks, that kinda thing.  I would cheerfully give a month’s salary to buy that number from someone, report it, go on the list of discoverers forever.  The record goes to the guy who reports first, not whose computer literally discovered first.  The computer guy has the option to auction his discovery to the highest bidder, who likely was hanging out on Prime95.


Hal was intrigued by the notion, contacted me offlist, we took the chatter over to an ExiMath group, and oh what I would give for those online discussions.  I didn’t save them at the time, but Sasha Chislenko was active in that, Anders Sandberg, of course Hal Finney, a lotta the ExI biggies.


Hal took the idea that a number could be worth a pile of money, then somehow worked out a way to harness it to blockchain to establish ownership of that number, perhaps Hal using some of his Hal magic, and a few years later, BitCoin was born.  I never bought into the notion because I didn’t see BitCoins as discovering anything of any mathematical significance.  It merely generated a buttload of money for the owner.  Hal never let us in on how many billions of dollars worth of BitCoin he owned, but he wasn’t active much on ExI by then.  He told us in about that time frame that he had ALS.  Hal perished in 2014.



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