Julian Assange used the Bitcoin Blockchain to prove that he’s alive and well, being the first person to provide a blockchain-based “proof of life.”
Assange is Alive and Well, Says Bitcoin
After being presumed dead by several internet fans, Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of the WikiLeaks organization, decided to prove his well-being by reading out block #447506 and its hash, which is a string of numbers and letters that are unique to that specific block and impossible to predict.
The block number and its hash were read out during a during a live feed on a Reddit AMA (Ask me Anything) session, in response to the rumors that he was dead, imprisoned, or in danger after the Ecuador government cut off his internet access following a series of leaked emails in October.
As so, Julian Assange has made history as the first public figure to use the Bitcoin blockchain as a proof-of-life. Although he did make a small mistake when reading out the block hash, he was quick to correct it and to prove speculators that he was indeed alive and that the interview was not pre-recorded.
Why the Blockchain?
Assange’s choice to use the Bitcoin blockchain for this matter does not come as a surprise given his friendly relationship with the cryptocurrency. Even though this is a somewhat unusual use-case for Bitcoin, it’s a welcome step up from the scenario found in old movies, when people used to hold up the day’s newspaper to prove they were still alive.
The blockchain’s transparent and immutable design make it the perfect method to prove just about anything. Bitcoin can be (and is) used as a means to store information, ensuring it can not be tampered with, censored or deleted, as it would take unfathomable computing power and electricity to do so. Since the blockchain is public, any information within it can be publicly verified making it the perfect place to timestamp any information.
Julian Assange & Bitcoin
Assange’s relationship with Bitcoin goes way back. In 2011, Wikileaks became one of the first organizations to accept bitcoins for donations, a move that worried Satoshi Nakamoto:
It would have been nice to get this attention in any other context. WikiLeaks has kicked the hornet’s nest, and the swarm is headed towards us.
Furthermore, Julian Assange was a cypherpunk and a hacker long before Wikileaks. His name was also on the mailing list where Satoshi Nakamoto first announced Bitcoin. According to Peter Todd, a well-known Bitcoin expert and developer, the two have previously met to discuss how Bitcoin/blockchains can be used for verifying documents. These factors all contribute to his knowledge of Bitcoin and its inner workings.
Moreover, this is not the first time Assange tapped the blockchain, although the proof was far less concrete than the one recently provided. In October, Julian Assange used it to prove his well-being in response to a post created on the image board, 8chan. In said post, someone impersonating a member of the organization stated that WikiLeaks personnel had been raided and that they were not in control of their Twitter account.
A cryptic message was then sent in the form of outgoing transactions to vanity addresses, which spelled out “We’re Fine 8chan Post Fake.”
Since then, fans have also sent their own messages to Assange, including a Happy New Year’s message on the 30th of December, which spelled out “Happy New Year” in three transactions and another one on the 1st of January, spelling “Where is Proof” in response to the first message created by Assange.
Is the blockchain the best way to prove someone is alive? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, blockchain.info, IBTimes UK