Australian Entrepreneur Craig Wright Says He’s Satoshi Nakamoto, the Creator of Bitcoin

5 months after Craig Steven Wright, an Australian computer scientist and entrepreneur, was outed against his will as Satoshi Nakamoto, he says he is indeed the creator of bitcoin.

Craig Steven Wright seen here in a video talking about his security company Panopticrypt. Photo: YouTube

Craig Steven Wright seen here in a video talking about his security company Panopticrypt. Photo: YouTube

The real identity of Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto is reportedly Australian entrepreneur Craig Steven Wright. Today we can say that the biggest mystery in the bitcoin world and years of speculation about who came up with the original ideas underlying the digital cash system must have been ended.

Mr. Wright has apparently proven his identity to three media organizations – BBC, the Economist and the London Review of Books – by digitally signing messages using some of the earliest Bitcoin cryptographic keys, which are linked to Bitcoin blocks mined by Nakamoto himself. “These are the blocks used to send 10 bitcoins to Hal Finney in January [2009] as the first bitcoin transaction,” he said.

“I was the main part of it, other people helped me,” Wright said in a televised interview with the BBC. Mr. Wright also published an elaborate blog post Monday, explaining, in very technical terms, how he proved he is Satoshi Nakamoto.

When asked about his pseudonym, Mr. Wright explained that he chose to call himself “Nakamoto” after a 17th-century Japanese philosopher and merchant, Tominaga Nakamoto, who was highly critical of the normative thought of his time and favoured free trade. However, he kept silent about the origin of name “Satoshi” – “Some things should remain secret.”

The admission of Mr Wright doesn’t only reveal the true origin of bitcoin – it can also influence the future of the controversial cryptocurrency greatly. The bitcoin project was launched in 2008, bitcoin software was released in 2009 and a year later Mr Nakamoto stepped back from active involvement. If he returns now, that could have a considerable impact on the definition of bitcoin’s future direction. As for now, the bitcoin society has divided into those who want to keep bitcoin pure and those who sees its modification as the only way to allow it growing rapidly – even by means of making it more like a conventional payment system.

The Economist team admits that the statement of Mr. Wright has almost fully convinced them to admit the real identity of Mr Nakamoto. However, nagging questions remain.

First of all, Mr Wright must prove that he is in possession of cryptographic keys that only Mr Nakamoto should have. Second, he must have a rational explanation for the holes in the story which came to light when he was first outed in December. Third, it is necessary to make sure that Mr Wright is technically savvy enough to develop a system as complex and clever as bitcoin. And finally, do those computer scientists who have collaborated online with Mr Nakamoto believe in the admission of Mr Wright. The answer to all these questions will mean whether Mr Wright has serious intentions to convince the world that he is real bitcoin’s creator.

Soon after Mr Wright went public, Gavin Andresen, chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, published a blog post backing his claim. “I believe Craig Steven Wright is the person who invented Bitcoin,” he wrote.

Jon Matonis, one of the founding directors of the Bitcoin Foundation, said he was convinced that Mr Wright was who he claimed to be. “During the London proof sessions, I had the opportunity to review the relevant data along three distinct lines: cryptographic, social, and technical,” he said. “It is my firm belief that Craig Wright satisfies all three categories.”

As we have already mentioned, Craig Wright made his first shocking disclosure of the real identity of bitcoin’s creator in December. At that time a number of evidence was announced as if proving the words of Mr Wright.

Wired cites a number of leaked emails, transcripts, and accounting forms with one leaked message from Wright to his lawyer dated June 2008 in which Wright describes “a P2P distributed ledger”—an apparent reference to bitcoin’s public record of transactions known as the blockchain, long before it was publicly released.

Another leaked email from Wright to computer forensics analyst and his close friend David Kleiman, dated just before bitcoin’s January 2009 launch, contained information about the paper they’d been working on together.

In the beginning of November 2015, Gizmodo got several emails from someone who claimed to not only know the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, but also claimed to have worked for him. The message read: “I hacked Satoshi Nakamoto. These files are all from his business account. The person is Dr Craig Wright”. Indeed email contained a package of email files apparently pulled directly from an Outlook account belonging to Craig Wright.

Despite the provided evidence there were many of those who didn’t believe Mr Wright and his admission. Emin Gün Sirer, an associate professor at Cornell University, knew Craig Wright and insisted that the whole story of him being Satoshi Nakamoto was just a plot. Relying on his teaching experience, Mr. Sirer stated that Satoshi had a unique intellect and Wright “does not fit the bill”. Craig Wright is not Satoshi. Could not have been. And before him, Dorian was not Satoshi, either — or rather, he was very much Satoshi Nakamoto, the model railroad enthusiast, not the fellow behind Bitcoin,said Mr Sirer.

Soon after the unmasking, Mr. Wright went into hiding. His digital existence almost completely disappeared. Several of his public accounts, including Facebook, YouTube and Google+, were completely deleted.

It was time for the experts to look at the situation rationally and a whole bunch of contradictions was found. It turned out that the evidence provided by Wired and Gizmodo was sent to at least three other outlets (Newsweek, Yahoo News and Nathaniel Popper at The New York Times). Thus someone wanted the story to get out as soon as possible.

If Mr Wright had once tried to convince the bitcoin community to admit him as real Satoshi Nakamoto, obviously this time his words must undergo serious examination to be absolutely sure. His present arguments have already faced some opposition. The information appeared that the signature on Craig Wright’s blog post is not a signature of any “Sartre” message, but just the signature inside of Satoshi’s 2009 Bitcoin transaction. Thus, it doesn’t show that Wright is Satoshi, and it does very strongly imply that the purpose of the blog post was to deceive people.

So the question remains: if Mr Wright really invented bitcoin or he just invented this plot for the media? We will keep you updated!

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