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  • Allistair Mitchell

Tales from the Edict 26B - The Squeeze

Updated: Apr 30, 2021

In late 2028 a Princeton computer expert sat down in front of a computer terminal and started analysing transaction records for Bitcoin. She wanted to see exactly how a small transaction she had made would show up in the system, and whether it would be possible to create an algorithm to trace a Satoshi through a series of transactions. We will call her Martha as she had connections with the intelligence community. She had access via her secure terminal to the power of Langley, or Fort Meade and could call on the expertise across many fields. Cryptocurrencies had grown to being extraordinarily complex, impossible-to-map networks with hundreds of thousands of nodes around the world. Over the years hardforks had further complicated the matter to the point where no one was sure about how the system might be managed and calls for softforks and hardforks became so frequent that communication between nodes had been reduced to nothing more than instruction sets. The system was ungoverned, turning a strength into its weakness.

So, when Martha stumbled upon the correct hash after her third try (the odds of that are about 7,280,000 times more likely than to win the Powerball), alarm bells rang in her head. Martha had never considered herself to be lucky, simply hard working. And luck does not sit well in a mathematical equation. She began to dig.

By December 2028 Martha believed she had a theory as to what may – or may not – have been going on with crypto currency, and it was all to do with the very first time Bitcoin made a name for itself, in 2011. Bitcoin's price jumped from $1 in April of that year to a peak of $32 in June, a gain of 3200% within three short months. That steep ascent was followed by a sharp recession in crypto markets and Bitcoin's price bottomed out at $2 in November 2011. What was interesting about this meteoric rise and fall as well as there being no paper trail, nothing to say what had caused the sudden changes upwards or downwards; when analysed it proved to be a very thin market. In other words, only a few timely transactions appeared to push the price skyward. Only raw information that pointed to no one or anything. So why had the prices spiked? Would investment bankers or criminals invest to drive prices up and down, losing value deliberately or foolishly.

By August 2012, the price of Bitcoin had moved up to $13.20 on the back of the first wave of speculators. From then on it was all a game rigged and speculated for the insiders, but with a mechanism that would cover their tracks the bigger and wider the market for crypto currencies grew. And these investors were in it to win big, which turned out to be the long term. But what did that matter when their initial investment was, virtually, nothing.

To Martha, with hindsight, the events over those three months in 2011 looked more like a test to see what would happen? Had the original idea been to use cryptocurrency as the next boiler room scam? The next gen Stratton Oakmont? If so, crypto currencies were, by 2029, a barrel of napalm in a room full of monkeys and it was going to hurt.

In 2030 Martha’s theory was put to the test.

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