An overwhelming task

By Sergio Lerner.Image result for jorge luis borges

Something amazing happened to me. I was leaving a meeting to enter another, disappointed for not being able to gather time to write and preparing for the adrenaline rush that I get when entering a meeting without any notion of the subject in question, when the secretary approached and warned me that someone was looking for me. It was a good excuse to skip the meeting and I slipped into a room where a person was waiting, looking back at the inner courtyard. I closed the door while getting comfortable in an armchair. The man turned a quarter, looking at the wall. “My name is Sandler” – he hurried.

He was old, but something on his face seemed familiar. He spoke quickly and went to the point: “You’re going to be Satoshi Nakamoto.” “Sorry what did you say?” – I answered confused. In the past someone had suggested that I could be Satoshi for a few rare coincidences, but this man talked about the future, not the past. “On August 7th of 2008 you will arrive from the future with the aim of creating Bitcoin” and while saying this he took from his pocket and placed a strange object on the table, a small box that seemed to have been red hot. I had seen many time travel movies, so space-time jump quizzes were fun for me. I immediately ruled out the possibility that he was lying or trying to con me. If something as strange as this happens to you, it must be real, I thought. Sandler seemed not to be surprised by my silence. 

The possibility of creating Bitcoin, having carefully reviewed its source code hundreds of times, seemed an easy and even fun task for me. So, he wanted me to do it, and clearly there were facts about the future and the past that were totally unbelievable. Even stranger than the mysteries about Satoshi I had posted about. I restrained myself from asking “Why me?” before the words reached my lips. That would not have been useful: we both knew I was someone who would accept the challenge. Instead I asked: “Why in this universe?”. Sandler eyes shone. Then, he sighed and leaded in a sentence: “Not in this universe, in all universes.” “That’s ridiculous!” – I exclaimed. “It’s enough to create Bitcoin in our past for Bitcoin to exists in our future.”. Sandler for the first time relaxed. He sat down and I looked straight ahead: he was a very old man and I estimated he was around 90 years old. A man who had never been tall, but strangely preserved the erect shoulder. A man with ruthless irony and tragic logic. “You know what happens in the universe where Bitcoin does not exist?” – he questioned.

I live in Argentina, and I remembered the last bank run where people banged the glass of the banks with pans and the savings that my father lost overnight.  Well, my family had survived. It was not so terrible. I had not spoken a word, but Sandler suddenly shook his head and with his index finger hit the table abruptly. The dry noise reminded me of the hammering of a typewriter and immediately transported me to the movie “Brazil”, the fly that changes a letter on the sheet, and an individual who is nullified, persecuted, through pervasive control of a state almighty. The dystopian world that we may enter any day. How many databases I did not know today contained my name? How many times had they been hacked or misused? Maybe Orwell was wrong for only 50 years. However, I didn’t get carried away by fear. I looked Sandler in the eye and released something pragmatic, worthy of a Chief Scientist of a Bitcoin company as I was at the time: “we cannot take care of all the universes, it is enough for me to be in the correct universe. It is a matter of resource economics.”. But as soon as I said that I felt that it was kind of selfish to say, and I was unconvinced, so I dropped lazy on the couch. “How many are they?” I asked. “There are infinite” – he responded. “Are they countable at least?” I asked again. “Yes. But in every universe where Bitcoin does not exist the suffering is eternal. “. As soon as he spoke these words, I felt that Sandler had abandoned logic to fall into sentimentality. I had found a sore to attack. “If Bitcoin fails in a universe then surely someone will create a next iteration of technology, using Proof-Of- Space-Time or Avalanche. There is no limit to science.” – I reproached him. That was a mistake in his reasoning, I thought. He looked at me with a hint of fury and then he was relentless: “Apparently that doesn’t happen, and I’m not going to risk everything for a weak promise. Bitcoin was an anomaly. It didn’t have to happen, but it happened. Now Bitcoin must be defended. I keep track of the number of universes where I have planted Bitcoin and it is astronomical. Well, not myself, but my person. It is a bit depressing, but what comforts me is the amount of universes that I leave behind where Bitcoin is the universal currency for savings and payments, and ample prosperity is lived. ”

So it was true what Theymos said. We had all the probabilities against. I didn’t know whether to laugh for the achievement or cry for impoverished universes. But I gather forces to try to unravel the problem: “If so, you should go directly to 2008 and look for me then. And not be making unnecessary temporal jumps, wasting energy that you could very well turn into bitcoins. That has more logic. ”- I lashed out. “But in 2008 you were an uneducated slacker! “ – he replied. “You would not have believed me. It took you 5 years to believe in the potential of Bitcoin”- he said. He was right, I had missed all the opportunities to buy cheap Bitcoin because of my insatiable distrust.  “But my time is finite and is running out, and this is a game of coaching inn.” – he added. And then I knew what it was. The purpose of Sandler’s trip was then clear to me. Sandler would make a single temporal jump, and I had to make the next jump, to August 2008, but in another universe. And then I would have to create Bitcoin and disappear without a trace, just like Sandler would do today. 

I spent some minutes trying to imagine what the future would look like: “But at least I’ll have Satoshi’s bitcoins,” I said with some hope. “Those are mined by this capsule, and it will never give you the private keys” he responded. And the time capsule will only turn on again when the blockchain reaches 2 million blocks. “It’s for your own protection” he said, and then Sandler smiled, and his smile was mine, and he was me and we were joined by a bond of resignation and sad pride. And so, we said goodbye. I wanted to ask him who had invented Bitcoin in the first universe, but he was already gone, leaving me the little time capsule on the table. In it, a small display showed an endless number indicating the temporal jumps already made, with unstoppable scrolling like a Ledger wallet display. In another, it showed the hash of the genesis block, waiting for the moment to begin mining. The destination universe, date and time had already been set. Sandler’s project was pharaonic, and I had a small part, a negligible part on it. A point on a line. I had to invent Bitcoin not in this universe, but in another one, and then disappear like Satoshi. Sandler, who was none other than the personality that I would take upon disappearing, would look for another version of myself not in this or that one, but in a third universe, thus spreading Bitcoin among all possible ones, one by one, in a perpetual loop, forming a chain, until eternity.

 

Inspired on the time-traveler bitcoiner.

 

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