Who is Wei Dai?
Hello again, its Tim. I am continuing my write up on the whereabouts of the illusive Satoshi Nakamoto. We have covered a few people already. Today I am focusing on Wei Dai, a computer engineer that truly valued privacy. He was inspired by the writings of Timothy May (well known Cypherpunk and author of “Crypto Anarchy”), though Timothy May admits that he doesn’t Even know if Wei is male or female. Wei was a very important member of the Cypherpunks and he contributed heavily to the creation of what we now know as Bitcoin (although not as directly as someone like Hal Finney). But the fact remains, Wei was a visionary and he saw issues a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin would face before it was even created. It is even documented that Satoshi tried to get in touch with Wei which creating Bitcoin to get his advice. There is a lot to learn about this mysterious person. So lets get to it.
Wei Dai, Cypherpunk, computer scientist and crypto-anarchist
Wei Dai was a proponent of smaller govt (even no govt) which is not surprising when you look at the other Cypherpunks. Dai even created “Crypto ++” which is a collection of cryptographic algorithms (which Wei still maintains). Wei was the creator of “B-Money” which is very similar to the way BTC functions in many ways. Public keys are used instead of names ensuring a degree of privacy. The problem with the first version created by Wei is B-Money did not solve the double spending issue. His second proposal for B-Money actually solves the double spending issue by creating a proof of stake like situation. None of his work was truly implemented by Wei, but they would be used as a reference for Satoshi Nakamoto while Satoshi created BTC. Wei Dai proposed a proof of work system in the first proposal that was similar to Bitgold (Created by Szabo) and RPOW (created by Finney). Wei was one of the few that actually saw the value of a proof of work consensus mechanism. The fact that Wei can be mentioned with the likes of Nick Szabo and Hal Finney is an accomplishment all in its own. Not to mention Dai even suggested a form of smart contracts long before they were even implemented into coins like Ethereum. His proposal for smart contracts would be perfected in the coming years, but it all started with the Cypherpunks back in the 90’s.
Now there are differences between Dai’s B-Money and Bitcoin. One of the biggest differences was the way the coins would perform. Wei wanted his coins to remain stable unlike BTC, which is anything but stable. For example, if a television costs 100 B-Money coins it would remain 100 B-Money coins (no matter if you bought the new television today or bought a television 10 years from now) This would create a stability that is unique when compared to Bitcoin. The way a stable cost was achieved was is done through a variant of proof of work that works a bit differently than BTC as a stable price is not the goal of Bitcoin so much as it was in Dai’s vision.
Dai did not ever implement the B-Money protocol. He really couldn’t implement it as it was incomplete. Even Dai admitted the proposals made were not achievable due to the fact it wasn’t a complete system as BTC is today. There were flaws in his creation, but the B-Money proposal was noticed by Satoshi Nakamoto and utilized while creating Bitcoin. Wei ultimately gave up on his work due to the fact he was positive it would only be a niche currency used by very few people (mostly in the Cypherpunk community) Wei was emailed by Satoshi while Satoshi was creating Bitcoin, but Wei didn’t respond to Satoshi. Wei wishes he did respond to Satoshi today though. The main reason is Wei sees a few flaws in Bitcoin that Weil believes could have been ironed out in the beginning. Wei seems to dislike the idea of a “fixed supply”. Satoshi decided to take the route of limiting BTC to 21 million. For this reason I believe that Dai is not Satoshi. As influential as Dai was in the creation of Bitcoin, at the end of the day he was a proponent of stable valued crypto while Satoshi created a cryptocurrency that is the opposite of stable (at least for now) There is even a stable coin called Maker that refers to their currency as “Dai” which is not a replica of Wei Dai’s vision, but it was likely named after Dai for obvious reasons.
Not too much is known about Wei Dai. Wei was a graduate of Washington University. Wei was a Cypherpunk. But most of all Wei was a proponent of privacy. Wei didn’t like the idea of the govt controlling our monetary supply and Wei decided to try and do something about it. Inspired by the writings of Timothy May, Wei made a big impact of the crypto community that is still felt to this day. I learned a lot about this mysterious person today! I hope you did as well.
Written by: Tim Pace 4/1/2019