FIVE months after Craig Steven Wright, an Australian computer scientist and businessman, was outed against his will as Satoshi Nakamoto, he says he is indeed the creator of bitcoin. On May 2nd he published a blog post offering cryptographic proof, backed up by other information, to make his case. Along with two other media organisations, The Economist had access to Mr Wright before the publication of his post. Our conclusion is that he could well be Mr Nakamoto, but that nagging questions remain.
In fact, it may never be possible to prove beyond reasonable doubt who really created bitcoin. Whether people, particularly bitcoin cognoscenti, actually believe Mr Wright will depend greatly on what he does next, after going public.
In December, after he was outed, Mr Wright stayed silent. So why has he now changed his mind? “I’m not seeking publicity, but want to set the record straight,” he explains. He says he called 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. (He doesn’t want to say why he picked “Satoshi”: “Some things should remain secret.”) (Source)
So why is this a big deal?
In essence it is a big deal because it will if Mr Wright is indeed Mr Nakamoto that would not only help to illuminate the origins of bitcoin—it could also have a big impact on the future of the controversial cryptocurrency. Mr. Wright could explain in a lot more detail the dynamics and his intentions with this new currency.
This in turn would allow others to take his work a step further. Many would love to see Bitcoins be traded as a regular currency and bring it closer to our every day usage. Bitcoins are used only by a small group of people so far, who have loved the idea from the start. The digital currency itself is still in its very early days, and many struggle to take it seriously. Maybe giving it a “face”, will make bitcoins more tangible to the common perception and open up entirely new opportunities.
Having launched the bitcoin project with the publication of a paper in 2008, and then the first release of bitcoin software in 2009, Mr Nakamoto stepped back from active involvement in 2010. His return from obscurity would most certainly change the dynamics of the debate about bitcoin’s future direction.
picture by Mark Harrison – The Economist