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Author Topic: The Bitcoin Crypto-Currency Mystery Reopened  (Read 1325 times)

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The Bitcoin Crypto-Currency Mystery Reopened

A New Yorker writer implies he found Bitcoin's mysterious creator. We think he got the wrong man, and offer far more compelling evidence that points to someone else entirely.In a recent New Yorker story, Joshua Davis wrote a story on Bitcoin, the crypto-currency that has ignited the imaginations of the technorati and led to a rush of media coverage. But this is no usual magazine feature. Not only does Davis, a marvelous writer whose work I've long admired, offer a primer on Bitcoin--what it is, how it works, why it’s important--he sets off on a journey to find its mysterious, secrecy-obsessed inventor, who goes by the name Satoshi Nakamoto. I think the man he found at the end of his search is the wrong guy. And by transparently sharing my own process for tracking Bitcoin's elusive inventor, I will show how a stream of stunning coincidences can end up pointing to not one, but three potential candidates.

As Davis reported, Nakamoto published a research paper in 2008 that detailed the ideas underpinning Bitcoins and wrote hundreds of posts to a forum in "flawless English." After one last post in April in which he claimed he had "moved on to other things," he vanished, yet his footprints are everywhere. Davis pored through Nakamoto's online writings, all 80,000 words and searched for clues. The mystery man's prose was quite clean, he noted, very few typos, and after his first post, in which he employed American spellings, he switched to the Queen's English for all the rest. Color was "colour," gray, "grey," an apartment was a "flat" and he wrote "bloody hard" at least once. What's more, embedded into the Bitcoin code is a tag that relates to a Times of London headline from January 3, 2009, on the government being on the brink to rescue Britain's banks with a second bailout. Then Davis interviewed a leading computer security researcher who sifted through Bitcoin's code, searching for flaws. He didn't find any, concluding that Nakamoto would have to be "a world-class programmer" with "a deep understanding" of C++--the programming language--and an extensive background in cryptography, economics, and peer-to-peer networking.

Davis reasoned that Satoshi Nakamoto was probably a British national and set off for the Crytpo 2011 conference in Santa Barbara to find him. It led him to Michael Clear, a 23-year-old graduate student in cryptography at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Clear had worked at a bank, co-authored a paper on peer-to-peer, and, unsurprisingly, employed British spellings. The first time Davis asked Clear, who was named Trinity's top computer student in 2008, if he were Bitcoin's creator, Clear just laughed. The next time Davis asked, Clear replied, "I'm not Satoshi, but even if I was I wouldn't tell you."
After the article was published and numerous media outlets picked up on the sleuth-mystery angle, Clear denied he was Satoshi Nakamoto. He told IrishCentral, "My sense of humor when I said 'even if I was I wouldn't tell you' is missing, this was said jokingly." Clear "found it funny that the New Yorker reporter thought I was Satoshi, but I have always (beyond conversational jokes like the quote above) vehemently denied it. I could never allow myself to be even remotely given credit for someone else's creativity and hard work."
This is where I come in. Like Davis, I too had been trying to find Satoshi Nakamoto and had accumulated a body of circumstantial evidence--including some crazy coincidences--that, taken as a whole, led me to believe that Bitcoin's creator was probably someone else entirely. I wondered if the British spellings and the headline inserted into Bitcoin's code were red herrings, placed there to throw pursuers off the scent. Wasn't Nakamoto's first post written with American spellings? It wouldn't take much for someone as bright as Nakamoto to create a modest disinformation campaign.

Read the full article at
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