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Here is what we know about Wright for certain: he is a pathological liar, he has serious problems with the Australian tax service and he has been interested in Bitcoin for quite a while.
In truth, it’s fairly easy to prove that you’re Satoshi. One just has to sell or transfer bitcoins from any of the earliest blocks, which are known with almost complete certainty to have been generated by Nakamoto.
The IT industry is usually quite boring, when compared to, say, drug trafficking, and it’s not even about the lack of rowdy people.
On the contrary, there are a lot of rowdy people in IT, it’s just that when an introverted nerd riots, it usually ends up with them moving to another corner of the room and tapping on their keyboard louder than usual.
Even Jobs and Zuckerberg turned out to be mediocre movie heroes. However, all that sea of IT tranquility was violently disrupted the other day, and the news came from an unexpected direction: a glorious detective plot, which makes “The Thomas Crown Affair” look like a bedtime story in comparison. The story is about the resurrection of Satoshi Nakamoto.
Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym used by a person (or a group of people), who developed Bitcoin and blockchain eight years ago.
They were also the ones who programmed the first version of Bitcoin source code and published it in the public domain. And it was Satoshi who said “So long and thanks for all the fish” to the other developers back in 2010 and then mysteriously vanished.
Who is (or who are) Satoshi Nakamoto remains unknown to this day. In November 2013, when one bitcoin was worth more than $1000, Nakamoto’s net worth exceeded one billion dollars. Naturally, that is a purely technical evaluation, as any attempt by Satoshi to sell any significant amount of their bitcoins would result in a collapse of the price rate. In any case, they have not sold a single cent’s worth of bitcoins.
The fact is, Satoshi had not displayed any lifesigns up until 2014, when Newsweek reporters found an unfortunate old man with the same last name living in the US, deciding that he is none other than Bitcoin’s maker.
About that time the last message to date was sent by the supposedly actual Satoshi Nakamoto - “leave the grandpa alone”. Not everyone was convinced that that message was sent by Nakamoto himself, but the grandpa was left alone regardless.
During the years of their absence, Satoshi turned into a myth, a quasi-religious symbol.
Any argument about the future development of Bitcoin - and there are furious arguments aplenty - just has to include the phrase “what would Satoshi say to that?” at some point.
Nobody can truly know what would Satoshi say, because Satoshi was not very talkative when they were around; however, it’s usually quite easy to finish the opinion of someone without their actual input, after they have been missing for several years.
And now, that finely balanced system of hopes and beliefs has been violently disrupted by an Australian businessman Craig Wright, who says: “guys, all I want is some peace and quiet, but the thing is, I’m Satoshi. Dudes, it’s me, your Old Testament god who has left the heavens for a couple of years, but I’m back now!”
However, here comes the funny part: Craig Wright is a very bad Satoshi, in the sense that he’s nothing like the Satoshi mythos.
Here is what we know about Wright for certain: he is a pathological liar (up to his own LinkedIn profile containing completely false information about his scientific degrees), he has serious problems with the Australian tax service, he has been interested in Bitcoin for quite a while, and he also appears to have spent some tens of millions of dollars on buying supercomputers.
But Wright has chosen a different approach. Firstly, he has contacted The Economist, BBC and, for some reason, GQ (such a great plan, when all you need is peace and quiet). Secondly, he has personally met Gavin Andersen, one of the core developers of Bitcoin, who has been communicating with the actual Satoshi a lot via email. For the sake of the experiment’s purity, one of Wright’s assistants bought a new, clean laptop, which Wright then used to prove to Gavin, that he has access to Satoshi’s private keys. Thirdly, he hasn’t even touched Satoshi’s blocks.
“It’s him,” said Gavin.
“It’s him,” said BBC.
“It’s not really clear,” said The Economist.
Wright then goes on to publish another proof in his blog, but several hours later it is discovered that that proof doesn’t prove anything; in fact, it’s not proof at all, but rather sleight of hand.
“No no,” says Gavin, “it’s him, believe me!”
The developers’ community is at a loss. Gavin is either an accomplice of a con artist, a victim of some secret service, or an idiot. Any one of those options is not satisfactory. Gavin is quickly eliminated from the core devs of Bitcoin, with the sole exception of the right to read code. There was another factor at play here: Gavin has been bothering everyone in that team for a while now, but the excuse itself is nonetheless suiting.
Dan Kaminsky, who could not believe that Gavin is an idiot, sent him an email.
“Gavin, what the hell?” - wrote Dan.
“I’ve no idea myself,” answered Gavin, “I had hoped that Satoshi would publish a good proof, but he has published some rubbish instead. I should probably have not said that he’s Satoshi beforehand.” But it’s already too late.
In the meanwhile, Wright-Satoshi who has successfully set Gavin up, publishes a new post.
“Guys,” Wright wrote, “I know that my previous proof does not prove anything, so I’ll be publishing the proof one of these days. Maybe, I’ll even move some of my bitcoins, so stay tuned.”
It’s completely unclear, as to why he did that, because moving some bitcoins is much faster than writing pointless blog posts, provided that Wright does have access to said coins.
So here’s the bottom line: there are some Bitcoin old-timers who have confirmed that Wright is Satoshi (jeopardizing their reputations in the process). There is Wright himself - a rather shady figure, who has claimed several times over the past couple of days to have irrefutable proof, but has never provided it. And there are several millions of dollars worth of Satoshi’s bitcoins.
It’s not clear why Wright does what he does, if he’s the real Satoshi. It’s not really clear why he does it if he’s not Satoshi - I mean, this can’t go on forever, even Gavin has to become doubtful at some point.
However, there are several elegant theories about Wright’s reasons.
The first option is that Craig Wright is, in fact, Satoshi, and his behavior is explained simply by him being insane (and it’s our fault for deifying the guy - you have to be simpler than that), or, alternatively, this is all a ruse to make everyone believe that he’s actually not Satoshi.
The latter being less probable, because nobody would even guess that Wright is Satoshi, if not for Wright’s own actions.
But personally, I like a different theory. It’s beautifully intriguing, albeit a quite fantastic one.
According to that theory, the real Satoshi Nakamoto is a friend of Craig Wright, David Kleiman. He’s a much more likely genius loner; additionally, he is already deceased (and the dates more or less match up - Kleiman got significantly worse at about the same time when Satoshi said their goodbye and went missing).
Strictly speaking, it’s irrelevant for this theory if Kleiman was actually Satoshi or not; what’s important is that Craig believes that.
So, Kleiman dies, a billion dollars is left untouched, and the only person who knows about that is Craig Wright. He tricks Kleiman’s relatives (father and brother) into giving up his private files (they were colleagues, after all), but the tricky part is that the files are encrypted.
OK, says Craig, goes to investors to tell them that he’s Satoshi, and takes several tens of millions of dollars to build a supercomputer, which will crack the code.
A couple of years later, he manages to access parts of correspondence (that’s how he tricked Gavin), but still can’t reach the money.
“Maybe you’re not Satoshi, after all,” the investors start wondering, “think about it.”
At that point (late 2015), Wright has, for the first time, started releasing the rumors that he’s Satoshi, but since even Beyonce looks more like Satoshi, the investors still have the same question.
“Hey man. Do you remember promising us a billion of dollars? You are Satoshi, right?”
“Hey man. Do you remember promising us a billion of dollars? You are Satoshi, right?”
That leads to Wright launching a second wave, heavy artillery included (The Economist, GQ, BBC, and Satoshi’s closest peers). During all that time he hopes that the code is on the verge of being finally cracked. That’s where the current events end, but one can’t help but fantasize about what could happen next.
A couple of weeks later, when everyone - even Gavin - realize that there is no proof, Wright goes missing. Optimists believe that he was captured and killed by some secret service; pessimists, that he was captured and killed by the investors. Craig himself lives a reclusive life in a Cambodian village under the name of Ivan Nikiforov and tries to hack Kleiman’s cipher with his Sony Vaio laptop (Columbia Pictures, who will obviously buy the rights to that movie, always have a shot of Sony Vaio).
All hope seems to be lost, as one day the code is finally decrypted. Wright enters the folder, but there is no “wallet.dat” in it. There is just a simple text file. “The instructions must be inside,” Wright smiles and opens the file. A shot comes with Craig’s face, followed by the file’s contents:
And at that exact moment, a message comes on screen, telling that Satoshi Nakamoto has sent 1 bitcoin to Gavin Andressen.
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One fine body…