Still in the Wind: Satoshi Nakamoto

Bitcoin is bigger than Nakamoto. Much, much bigger.

Back in December, the folks at WIRED released an extensive analysis of Craig Wright, supporting the idea that he may well be mystery man Satoshi Nakamoto. A week later, they issued a single follow-up sentence:

New clues following the publication of this story have shown inconsistencies in Wright’s academic and supercomputing claims that may point to the second, strange possibility we noted: an elaborate, long-planned hoax.

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Speculation has heated up over the past couple weeks after Wright took his claim public: he is the founder of Bitcoin. Gavin Andresen and Jon Matonis, the chief scientist and founding director, respectively, at the Bitcoin Foundation, supported his claims. Those in the community, on the other hand, have been less willing to accept the claims which have all been categorically circumstantial.

A New Wrinkle

Responding to the backlash in the community and throughout social media, Wright balked. Not necessarily a retraction, he wrote:

I’m Sorry.

I believed I could do this. I believed that I could put the years of anonymity and hiding behind me. But, as the events of this week unfolded and I prepared to publish the proof of access to the earliest keys, I broke. I do not have the courage. I cannot.

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When the rumors began, my qualifications and character were attacked. When those allegations were proven false, new allegations have already begun. I know now that I am not strong enough for this.

I know that this weakness will cause great damage to those that have supported me, and particularly to Jon Matonis and Gavin Andresen. I can only hope that their honour and credibility is not irreparably tainted by my actions. They were not deceived, but I know that the world will never believe that now. I can only say I’m sorry.

And goodbye.

Does It Matter?

Yes. And no. It has been believed that everybody from Michael Clear to Vili Lehdonvirta are behind Nakamoto’s identity. It could’ve been a collaboration of multiple people, or it could’ve been Californian physicist Dorian Nakamoto. Nick Szabo has also been mentioned. It is worth noting that as they are named as potential Nakamotos, most just as quickly refute the claims. Others have come to the conclusion that Nakamoto, or the people who together identified as Nakamoto, are deceased.

Because Nakamoto mined a plurality of the earliest blocks in the network, his fortune, if it is still accessible, may be worth over a million bitcoins. In the wrong hands, a firesale of those bitcoins could cause a market crash. But, that brings up the ideological component of bitcoin. It is more than solely code.

While Nakamoto’s emergence may give him, her, or them a platform from which to help guide the future of bitcoin’s libertarian community, it is incumbent on us to recall a key aspect of the bitcoin movement: decentralization. Theoretically, this means governing bodies, financial institutions, and even the innovator(s) behind it all, could never control it, even if they wished to. In this way, bitcoin is axiomatically bigger than Nakamoto. Much, much bigger.

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