Timothy May, the Crypto Anarchist Who Prophesised Bitcoin, Dies at 67

Timothy May, the Crypto Anarchist Who Prophesised Bitcoin, Dies at 67

Computer scientist and privacy advocate Timothy May has died this weekend at the age of 67, it has emerged.

Technology Libertarian

Best known as the author of The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto, May was one of the original founders of the cypherpunk movement, a group of technologists who, during the 1980’s, both identified and promoted cryptographic methods as the basis for re-defining communications, the economy and citizenship.

May made a number of notable prophecies – some appearing in the Crypto Anarchist Manifesto – about the ability of distributed, encrypted networks to transform the relationship between citizens and their governments, usually in support of his own libertarian views, many of which have since transpired to be true in the thirty years since they were written – including the creation of Bitcoin.

In the opening lines of his Manifesto, he stated: “Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner. Two persons may .. conduct business, and negotiate electronic contracts without ever knowing the True Name, or legal identity, of the other,” adding that “These developments will alter completely the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation.”

His writing also foresaw many of the criticisms that would accompany crypto-technology: “The State will of course try to slow or halt the spread of this technology, citing national security concerns, use of the technology by drug dealers and tax evaders, and fears of societal disintegration,” although recognised that “Many of these concerns will be valid” whilst concluding that “they will not halt the spread of crypto anarchy.”

A committed libertarian, he also espoused a number of other, perhaps more controversial views, particularly in relation to gun control, stating that “private ownership of firearms”  was a form of “public good.”