Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

Published December 9, 2015

I'm going to call it now: Dr Craig Wright, the Australian who's been 'unmasked' by Wired, is not Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin.

Satoshi is a man (or woman, or child, or dog, or extra terrestrial) who clearly shuns the limelight and has invested great amounts of effort in being off the radar. Dr Wright doesn't fit this profile at all. He has done the standard publicity generating thing of being just secretive enough that everyone pays attention to him, which perfectly fits his professional interests of being CEO and founder of DeMorgan Ltd, a "pre-IPO" cryptocurrency firm. With publicity comes money.

The Wired article seems pretty compelling until about half way through when they admit that at least some of their best evidence has definitely been doctored. Dr. Wright supposedly made some cryptic hints in posts from 2008 that he was at the centre of an upcoming cryptocurrency (Bitcoin was released in 2009), but it turns out that these hints were actually inserted into older posts in 2013, so actually look more like attempts to rewrite history rather than premonitions.

One of the points about Dr Wright inviting replies using a public key which is associated elsewhere to "satoshin@vistomail.com" address is also not as interesting as it first seems, because there is no record of Satoshi ever using that address. Satoshi instead used "satoshi@vistomail.com". This itself looks like intentional impersonation.

What we have here is a volume of circumstantial evidence, a lot of which can be faked relatively easily (update: Vice has investigated and it looks like some of it is faked: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/satoshis-pgp-keys-are-probably-backdated-and-point-to-a-hoax). The evidence never quite provides the definitive proof you might wish for, and indeed, since we are dealing with cryptographic identity, could legitimately ask for. If Satoshi wanted to reveal himself he could do it with a cryptographically signed message.

It's clear that Dr Wright wants people to believe he is Satoshi, but it is entirely unclear that Satoshi wants people to think he is Dr Wright.

Filed under: technology, bitcoin

Talk is cheap

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