It may surprise you to learn that despite the massive attention bitcoin has received this year, no one knows the true identity of its creator.
In 2008, a person or group of people named Satoshi Nakamoto published the digital currency’s original spec paper. After lingering around cryptocurrency forums for a year or two, “Satoshi” dropped off the map.
There have since been numerous attempts — comprehensively tracked by Hilary Sargent, aka Chart Girl — to determine Satoshi’s identity, but nothing conclusive has yet emerged.
The latest stab comes from an equally unknown blogger, who on a WordPress site called “Like In A Mirror” apparently created just for the post explains how he used analysed speech patterns used in the Satoshi paper to determine that a blogger and former economics George Washington University economics professor named Nick Szabo “is probably Satoshi.”
“…reverse-searching for content similar to the Bitcoin whitepaper led me to Nick’s blog, completely independently of any knowledge of the official Bitcoin story. I must stress this: an open, unbiased search of texts similar in writing to the Bitcoin whitepaper over the entire Internet, identifies Nick’s bit gold articles as the best candidates.”
Among the similarities “Mirror” found:
- “Repeated use of ‘of course’ without isolating commas, contrary to convention (‘the problem of course is’)”
- “Starting sentences with ‘It should be noted’ (found in 5.25% of [all] crypto papers)”
- “Use of ‘preclude’ (found in 1.5% of [all] crypto papers)”
- “Expression ‘timestamp server’, central in the Bitcoin paper, used in Nick’s blog as early as January 2006
- “Repeated use of expression ‘trusted third party’ ”
- “Repeated use of ‘timestamp’ as a verb”
Szabo has denied to Wired that he is Satoshi. If he’s lying, he’d have been more or less hiding in plain sight. An active writer at a blog called Enumerator, Szabo has written extensively on a mind-boggling amount of topics including hermeneutics, deep-sea resource exploitation…and cryptographic security.
“Mirror” admits that the matches could just be coincidences, arguing there were only a handful of people using these types of expressions in the context of cryptocurrency in 2008 and earlier — although this would seem to suggest a pool of potential candidates, not just Szabo.
And “Mirror” explains away Satoshi’s use of Britishism like “favour” by arguing Satoshi may have had co-authors, but does not state who these might be.
Still, the similarities seem interesting. We’ve sent an email to Szabo to comment.