New Satoshi Nakamoto claimant emerges, plans tell-all book
Someone new claiming to be bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto has published a brief bitcoin history.
nakamotofamilyfoundation.org has sprung up with a 21-page excerpt purported to be written by Satoshi Nakamoto and with suggestions of a tell-all book yet to come.
Satoshi Nakamoto invented bitcoin, but nothing is known about who he/she/they are except that Satoshi Nakamoto is almost certainly not their real name. There have been several people misidentified as Nakamoto over the years, but this new writing doesn't seem to be the work of any of them.
The most likely suspect for this site might have been the publicity-hungry Australian Craig Wright, who has repeatedly insisted that he invented bitcoin despite evidence to the contrary. But he took to Twitter after the release of the excerpt, saying it's getting the details wrong and that he had nothing to do with it.
There's no reason to believe that this new paper is not the work of the real Satoshi Nakamoto, but no reason to believe that it is. It could just as easily be a PR stunt or someone trying to make a quick buck from a "tell-all" fiction. Either way, there's some neat food for thought in the excerpt.
A matter of money
The quick excerpt, titled Duality (PDF link), included musings on what made blockchain take off with bitcoin, after previous projects had already devised similar systems without much traction.
The author attributes it all to money.
"Plenty of projects on Sourceforge at the time were just as well coded, well maintained, if not better, by teams, and even if someone else had created the blockchain before me, had it been used for something else beyond currency, it probably would not have had much of an outcome," they write.
"Why did bitcoin succeed? ...I view the fact that something like blockchain which had already been done in a similar fashion but without much fanfare was not the prime reason, rather it was because of the very nature and premise bitcoin. Here, for once, was this idea that you could generate your own form of money. That's the primary and sole reason, is because it was related to this thing called money. It wasn't about the profficiency (sic) of the code or the novelty, it was because it had to do with money. It centered around money.
"Look at the projects using the blockchain today and which are the most successful? Which are most popular, most utilized? All of those that center around money."
It's hard to disagree with the author on this point, when a glance at the prices makes this pretty self-evident. Some of the biggest names around are projects like bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Monero, Dash, Dogecoin and hundreds of knock-offs of each, none of which actually do anything except follow in bitcoin's footsteps in an attempt to serve as a replacement for money.
For a long time now, the actual potential of cryptocurrency has been buried under a mountain of functionally near-identical cash equivalents, but the prices are what brought in mainstream interest.
To really make their point, the author points out that it's self-evidently all about the money rather than the technology. If it was actually about the technology, other projects that came before and after bitcoin would have gone places instead.
"So it is by no surprise then that bitcoin took off the way it did. At least not now. But for the last decade, yes it was hard to reason why it succeeded when other projects had not. I refer to the thousands upon thousands of projects that preceded it and have since surpassed it."
Was it really written by Satoshi Nakamoto?
Stylometry is the practice of analysing a person's writing style to identify the author. The theory is that every person's writing style can serve as a unique, if somewhat smudged, fingerprint. Nakamoto left behind plenty of writing, in the form of message board discussions, emails now in the public domain and the bitcoin whitepaper itself.
The catch is that to identify an anonymous author with stylometric analysis, you either need to have a good idea who the potential candidates are or have access to a lot of computational power and a sprawling database of likely suspects.
The former has seen some analysis pointing at early bitcoin developers Nick Szabo and Ian Grigg as the most likely to be Satoshi Nakamoto, while the latter has seen unconfirmed rumours that the NSA knows who Satoshi Nakamoto is.
With so much new writing out there, purported to be from Satoshi Nakamoto and written in a fairly stream-of-consciousness way, it would probably stand out more if it was the real Satoshi Nakamoto.
Plus, it doesn't seem to bring many new details to the table. As Adam Back, an early bitcoin developer mentioned in the excerpt, pointed out to Wired, most or all of the details in the book were already in the public domain and could be found by anyone who cared to dig for them. The new Satoshi Nakamoto claimant was supposedly unable to answer some specific questions Back asked them, strongly suggesting that it's not the real deal. Hal Finney's widow, Fran Finney, also notes that the writing doesn't include any new details.
The excerpt author says, in the same somewhat rambling broken way as the rest of piece, that "the truth is one that people will not come to expect. Because the truth is too special to give away, requires a long answer, which will be in the book."
If they were the real Satoshi Nakamoto, there are plenty of ways they could confirm their identity without giving away too much. Instead, they just tell you to buy their book for the real details.
It's probably just as well that this is most likely just a PR stunt. Bitcoin and Satoshi Nakamoto are much bigger and more meaningful than any one person. It's probably better for everyone that Nakamoto remains unknown to help keep the magic going.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VET, XLM, BTC and NANO.
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