The Satoshi Nakamoto Circus Sideshow

Smart guy and self-proclaimed bitcoin creator Craig Wright.

Smart guy and self-proclaimed bitcoin creator Craig Wright.

Just in time for the Consensus 2016 conference (“Making Blockchain Real”), a man named Craig Wright, claiming to be the shadowy bitcoin inventor known as Satoshi Nakamoto, emerged. This little event temporarily derailed Consensus as a disproportionate amount of attention was suddenly diverted to the circus sideshow that ensued. A rather wild ride followed, with seemingly incontrovertible evidence presented by Wright at the outset, which went on to be rather conclusively controverted. All the while, what would seem to be a simple way of proving his claim (sending some of the bitcoin known to reside in Nakamoto’s bitcoin wallet) never happened.

So now the whole world is piling on Wright, causing him to send out a semi-suicidal sounding mea culpa.

Case closed, right?

Not so fast.

Remember in March of 2014, Newsweek Magazine attempted to reveal the real Satoshi, in the form of Dorian Nakamoto? Very shortly thereafter, the forum ID known to belong to the real Satoshi was activated for the first time in years, with a simple message: “I am not Dorian Nakamoto”. This is a conclusion everybody else eventually reached anyway.

What I’m left wondering is why, if Craig Wright is not in fact Satoshi, has Satoshi’s forum account not disclaimed him? The flip side of that question is: if Craig Wright does control that account, why has he not used it to bolster his claim?

But the question is most likely moot anyway, since, as this episode has made clear, bitcoin itself has outgrown its creator. It now belongs to the universe and as we’ve seen, the opinions of any one person in this universe tends to not hold excessive weight – likely up to and including that of the creator.

I do believe it’s interesting to have founder’s intent to consider as a factor when wading through the process of keeping bitcoin viable into the future. But as with the writers of the US Constitution, founder’s intent only one factor of many to consider and rarely of greater value than actual case law precedent. So no, I don’t think that at this point, Satoshi would have much success guiding the debate over changes to the bitcoin block size.

So before people get so worked up over the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, I suggest they first answer for themselves whether or not the question is even important anymore.

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