Sep 152014
 

The article was originally published at EverydayBitcoin.org. Author Ben Saylor has joined our growing list of contributors and we will be running some of his older posts here. This two part blog is very timely with the recent news of Satoshi’s old email account being hacked.

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto – Part I

In 2008, someone using the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto” published a paper proposing a new kind of digital currency that uses cryptography for security and a public ledger to eliminate the need for a central authority to prevent fraud.  He, she, or they (we’ll say “he” to respect Satoshi’s choice of a male name) were proposing a revolutionary concept that had never been tried before.  In January of 2009, Satoshi launched the Bitcoin network and we are now 5 years in.  Needless to say, his identity has become the subject of wild speculation.  I can think of 3 reasons why Satoshi’s identity might be of interest.

Genuine Curiosity

I will admit, it is super fascinating that a system that has the potential to transform finance in at least some areas of the world was created by a mystery man/woman/group.  There is bound to be some benevolent speculation about who Satoshi is.  It would be interesting to learn about his background, motivation, and life since the launch of Bitcoin.

Exploitation

Whether he is the target of more articles like Newsweek’s or of hackers who believe he has a lot of bitcoins ripe for the stealing, Satoshi would be a big target if his identity were public.  We already know from the Dorian Nakamoto blunder that even a relatively small amount of speculation and media hounding can profoundly damage the victim’s life.  If we were somehow able to confirm Satoshi’s real identity, I would do everything I could to draw attention away from him and give him privacy. But that probably won’t happen, because it seems like he’s smart.

Conspiracy

It’s no secret that the invention of Bitcoin threatens the powers that be.  Even if Bitcoin only achieved limited adoption around the world, its impact on society would be profound.  Some of the people who have the most to lose are the people with the money (bankers) and the people with the guns (politicians, who tend to be bought by the people with the money).  The Bitcoin network paves the way for the decentralization of currency, financial innovation, global economic activity, contracts, smart property, and a thousand other things that creative people will think of in the coming years. Needless to say, bankers/politicians have a vested interest in making sure Bitcoin’s impact is contained.  Imagine the fire that would rain down from these powerful people if Satoshi were identified.  Even Russia couldn’t save him! (Bitcoin threatens not only the American banking/political system, but that of the whole world).

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto – Part II

Several people have been “outed” as the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. Most of these people are computer scientists that I’ve never heard of. And of course there was the Newsweek fiasco about Dorian Nakamoto. Despite all of the uncertainty, Satoshi did leave some clues in his writing for us to sift through.  All of these clues come from his original white paper, emails, and his posts on cryptography and Bitcoin message boards.
Clues
  • Satoshi said in 2009 that he was a 37 year-old Japanese male
  • His paper is in English
  • He used British formatting
  • He uses two spaces after a period
  • There are occasional American spellings (either attempts to mask identity, or evidence of group of multinational individuals)
  • The code writing was elegant in some ways and inelegant in others (so I’m told)
  • His statements in blog posts imply political motivation

I gave these clues to a friend, who produced the sketch at the top of this post. We may be getting closer…

The most important thing to remember when considering the identity of Satoshi is that it doesn’t matter. Bitcoin is open source, transparent, and not a pyramid scheme with Satoshi at the top waiting to press a button to steal everyone’s bitcoins… The invention of a blockchain-based cryptocurrency is what really matters.  The sooner we treat the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto as an amusing side note instead of a witch (or wizard) hunt, and start focusing on implementing a financial system that can 1) take away power from people who would presume they have the right to rule over others and 2) improve the lives of billions of people, the better.

Ben Saylor

Music educator, composer, homebrewer of extreme beers, and Bitcoin enthusiast. Along with his wife and two children, Ben resides in an apartment in Western Pennsylvania that smells of rich mahogany and houses many leather-bound books. When he isn't tickling the ivories or conjuring off-centered ales, he spends his time spreading the word about all things crypto on EverydayBitcoin.org. Ben's stated mission is to engage technological laymen like himself and promote the benefits of Bitcoin in a way that is accessible to anyone. His backup mission is to eradicate the world of light beers.

  One Response to “Who is Satoshi Nakamoto – Part I & II EverydayBitcoin.org”

  1. Great article! I’m glad I could help by providing you with A picture of the unusual suspect 😉