Yesterday morning’s announcement from a serial Australian odd-ball claiming to be Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto took just 90 minutes to de-bunk. Craig Steven Wright’s ‘evidence’ amounted to little more than a copy of a signature from the genuine Satoshi from a 2009 transaction. So why were the BBC, The Economist and so many other credible news sources so quick to corroborate the story? Why would someone even claim to be S.N? The biggest question is, why does it matter?
We’re all Satoshi Nakamoto..
@drpauljennis hmm.. wonder how the BBC will react when it comes out that I am, in fact, Satoshi..? I mean, oh dear, forget I said anything
— Reuben Godfrey (@ReubenGodfrey) May 2, 2016
When looking at the CV of MrWright it is hard to understand why the media took the bait; just six months ago he made the same claim which rubbished just as quickly. Cynically one could suggest that it was a slow Monday and the ‘news’ sources wanted to generate some clicks, which they certainly did. The announcement was initially just a blog entry by CSW but was followed eagerly by the BBC and, the great all-knowing, Economist. Both organisations had been sworn to secrecy (signed non-disclosure agreements) and I think they believed they had a major scoop. This may have been a case of sending a reporter to do a cryptographer’s job; a reporter going for the juicy headline where a cryptographer would focus more on the actual evidence. So what evidence was there? As above, a copy of a ‘real’ signature and the word of some key bitcoin developers. It’s unclear why these devs were keen to confirm the claim but the truth is still unfolding – expect to hear more from Gavin Andresen and Jon Matonis
BREAKING NEWS: I hereby announce that I, Vitalik Buterin, am the founder of ethereum.
— Vitalik Buterin (@VitalikButerin) May 2, 2016
Claiming to be the sole creator of bitcoin is not the first lofty claim Mr Wright has made. As I mentioned, his CV is littered with degrees, diplomas and PhDs from a range of institutions on a range of subjects, some more credible than others. While there is little doubt that he has been involved from early-on with bitcoin and is a very smart man, there are few that believe he has the ability to create bitcoin; there are very that believe bitcoin could be the work of a single individual. So, why bother? Hard to know but the Australian Tax Authority have shown a lot of interest in him.. perhaps he’s trying to dazzle them with science?
My belief is that the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto may never be known and, more importantly, that it doesn’t really matter. Just as reading Alan Turing’s wikipedia page won’t help me with writing code, knowing the identity of the creators of bitcoin and the blockchain will not affect how the technology is used.
I’m reminded of the old PR truism; I don’t think he cares as long as they spell his name Wright.