This past week featured the cresting of a new wave of interest into the long-standing mystery of Satoshi Nakamoto’s actual identity.
With Bitcoin Cash Satoshi’s Vision getting delisted due to the fraudulent claims of Craig Wright promising to sue everybody who claims that he’s not real Satoshi, we thought that it would be fitting to devote this edition of Max’s Corner to the foundation myth underlying the rise and development of blockchain development: the mystery of Satoshi Nakamoto.
The Satoshi story highlights, among many things, the integral role anonymity has played in the flourishing of this industry, a role those of us at Bytecoin would like to see expand in the future.
In the beginning, was the code and the code was Satoshi’s and the code was Satoshi.
In October 2008, someone operating under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto, published a paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” on the cryptography mailing list at metzdowd.com. In January of the following year, Nakamoto went on the release the original Bitcoin software on Sourceforge, an action that effectively launched a thousand ships of the decentralization movement.
Since those early years, questions regarding who this original developer really has only gotten more persistent as Bitcoin and the blockchain have etched themselves into the public imagination.
The story, as it was first presented, was that Satoshi Nakamoto was a Japanese programmer in his mid-30’s. However, his perfect use of English and the fact that none of his Bitcoin software was written in Japanese led many to speculate from the start that the name Satoshi was a pseudonym.
Whoever was behind the pseudonym also created the bitcointalk forum where he went on to post frequently, though without ever offering much personal information in posts that were mainly concerned with technical aspects of the nascent technology.
After analyzing the linguistic components of Satoshi’s work and his posting patterns, concerning location and likely sleep pattern, a few possible candidates for his true identity were named.
Among them was Craig Steven Wright, an Australian businessman and computer scientist who has found himself in the headlines once again in connection to the aforementioned delistings of the coin he is attached to, BCHSV.
Craig Wright’s name was first connected to Satoshi in 2015 after two independent investigations, one by Wired the other by Gizmodo, alleged that he could be the inventor of Bitcoin. The claims made by these journalists were backed up by emails and documents taken from Wright’s personal computer.
Among the evidence was a draft trust agreement for the disposition of a total of 1.1 million Bitcoins, to be held by a company in the Seychelles whose ownership, according to the agreement, is linked with an email address and public keys known to have once been under the control of Satoshi Nakamoto.
The journalists also wrote about Dave Kleiman, Wright’s now-deceased former colleague, and documents that allege Kleiman helped Wright conceal his identity as the inventor of Bitcoin.
The articles, which never explicitly ruled out the possibility that Wright’s connection to Satoshi was a fabrication, nevertheless caused a stir in the press and may have been behind the Australian Federal Police’s decision to raid two of Wright’s properties shortly after publication in connection with a tax fraud investigation.
Wright himself declined to speak about the allegations in the articles, and in their aftermath removed pages from the internet connected to himself and various businesses he had been connected to.
Originally the editors at Gizmodo stuck to the deductions reached in their article, saying:
“Until more substantial facts come to light, we continue to believe what we wrote in our story: that the most likely answer to this mystery is that Craig Wright is the inventor of Bitcoin, and that the second most likely answer is that he’s staged an elaborate, strange and long-planned hoax.”
But as more information came to light, revealing the various business schemes Wright had concocted on the back of his specious origin claims, Gizmodo changed their tune, writing:
“New clues point to that second, strange scenario.”
Fast forward three-and-a-half years later, and, despite there being no new evidence to support the old claims, Wright has publicly embraced the theory linking him to Bitcoin’s creation and used it to cajole support for BCHSV, a double fork off of the original BTC currency.
But many people have grown tired of Wright’s antics and the suspicion it has drawn to the industry, and as a result, a number of major cryptocurrency exchanges have delisted BCHSV. Wright has responded to the delistings aggressively, suing people that have questioned his assertions for unjust damage to his reputation and the well-being of the BCHSV coin.
Perhaps not wanting the sunlight of attention to shine more brightly on Wright, John McAfee has taken to Twitter to proclaim that Wright is a fraud, and he knows that Wright is a fraud because he knows who the real Satoshi is. McAfee’s proof? He is John McAfee and he knows things:
“How do I know about Satoshi? Yes, I drink, use drugs, chase women, run from the law – which I have done since I was 19. But it does not obviate the fact that I created a great company whose focus was stopping hackers. I had to know hacking. I am still John F—— McAfee.”
McAfee has explained that his reason for lifting the veil on the true identity of Satoshi, providing he does, in fact, have that capability and will follow through with his word, is that the mystery behind Bitcoin’s creation has allowed bad actors like Wright to con people and make profits to the detriment of the entire industry.
While it is a reasonable point, and a handful of people have been able to use the Satoshi mystery to benefit themselves financially and otherwise, the anonymity behind Bitcoin speaks to its true intended value and the vision that many of us have had of cryptocurrency since its founding.
Cryptocurrency is not supposed to be about influence peddling and ego building, it is supposed to be a vehicle of returning financial power to the hands of the individual, regardless of what the individual’s name is or what any of the material circumstances of his life are.
For too long the economic reigns have been held by corporate hands whose interests are at odds with individual prosperity. Cryptocurrency was introduced to end that and attempts to curb anonymity in the cryptosphere, regardless of how well-intentioned they may be, run contrary to one of the fundamental aspects of our original vision.