Nick Szabo is a computer scientist, legal scholar and cryptographer known for his research in digital contracts and digital currency. The phrase and concept of “smart contracts” was developed software de la divisa Szabo with the goal of bringing what he calls the “highly evolved” practices of contract law and practice to the design of electronic commerce protocols between strangers on the Internet. Szabo influentially argued that a minimum granularity of micropayments is set by mental transaction costs.
At one time Szabo was a proponent of “extropian” life extension techniques. In 1998, Szabo designed a mechanism for a decentralized digital currency he called “bit gold”. Bit gold was never implemented, but has been called “a direct precursor to the Bitcoin architecture. In Szabo’s bit gold structure, a participant would dedicate computer power to solving cryptographic puzzles. When attempting to design transactions with a digital coin, you run into the “double-spending problem. Once data have been created, reproducing them is a simple matter of copying and pasting. Most digital currencies solve the problem by relinquishing some control to a central authority, which keeps track of each account’s balance.
This was an unacceptable solution for Szabo. In 2008, a mysterious figure who wrote under the name Satoshi Nakamoto released a proposal for bitcoin. Nakamoto’s true identity remained a secret, which led to speculation about a long list of people suspected to be Nakamoto. Although Szabo has repeatedly denied it, people have speculated that he is Nakamoto. Research by financial author Dominic Frisby provided circumstantial evidence but, as he admits, no proof that Satoshi is Szabo.