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The Face Behind Bitcoin
March 6, 2014 6:34 AM   Subscribe

"I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it," he says, dismissing all further queries with a swat of his left hand. "It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection." Newsweek claims to have found Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin.

There is surprise at his whereabouts, real name, and background and career history. And concerns that Newsweek has published many personal details of someone who is sitting on an estimated $400 million digital fortune.
posted by memebake (470 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
So Satoshi Nakamoto wasn't an alias? Talk about hiding in plain sight.
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:36 AM on March 6


sitting on an estimated $400 million digital fortune

Isn't that fortune only accessible in pizza and illegal drugs at the minute?
posted by The River Ivel at 6:38 AM on March 6 [24 favorites]


Nonetheless, it's the closest anyone has gotten to actually finding Nakamoto, which also raises ethical questions — is it fair to so thoroughly expose a man who has gone to great lengths to stay anonymous?

It's fair to remove any element of the mysterious from something that wants to become the future of all currency.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:38 AM on March 6 [10 favorites]


Wait - it's not the guy that Ted Nelson claimed... The professor who dropped a mathematical bombshell of a proof of some conjecture that's infuriating to many in the math field, since he won't help explicate it?

That's a shame, that would've been damn awesome. Though, I suppose just some mundane guy is kinda interesting, too.
posted by symbioid at 6:39 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I hope I can find the creator of dogecoin and give him a good scritch behind the ears.
posted by Luminiferous Ether at 6:39 AM on March 6 [28 favorites]


someone who is sitting on an estimated $400 million digital fortune

Hey, he could buy 400 million Newsweeks with those comic books.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:41 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


How likely is it that, given he is from and lives in the US, he wasn't already known to the authorities? They must have looked into the founder of Bitcoin's identity, and that he used his real name (or at least part of it) would have made him easy to track down.
posted by Thing at 6:42 AM on March 6


That's a photo of his house, and his car and plate. All easily locatable. Article has a bundle of other family details in it, most of it unnecessary, but that's the privacy of several people blown just for a story. The future of journalism?

I kinda hope he cashes in a few of his Bitcoins, buys Newsweek and shuts it down.
posted by Wordshore at 6:43 AM on March 6 [28 favorites]


I think its really interesting that when the journalist eventually met him, he had requested the presence of police officers. Because how does he know that she is really a journalist? Imagine you're the secret inventor of Bitcoin and suddenly someone turns up asking questions and wanting to meet you. You're a prime kidnapping target.
posted by memebake at 6:43 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Oh he's not mundane. That said - he worked in security (which is good, since, you know... crypto), but... Skeptical now, due to the fact that he has connections to the national security state (at least... the military).

He's an asshole, eh? Did you expect anything different from bitcoin? Now, if he made dogecoin, on the other hand! ;)
posted by symbioid at 6:45 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


How likely is it that, given he is from and lives in the US, he wasn't already known to the authorities? They must have looked into the founder of Bitcoin's identity, and that he used his real name (or at least part of it) would have made him easy to track down.

Especially considering he did top secret work for the Federal Aviation Authority.
posted by memebake at 6:45 AM on March 6


Isn't that fortune only accessible in pizza and illegal drugs at the minute?

I dunno know man a fella could have quite a weekend with 400 million dollars worth of pizza and drugs.
posted by The Whelk at 6:45 AM on March 6 [30 favorites]


> He's an asshole, eh? Did you expect anything different from bitcoin? Now, if he made dogecoin, on the other hand! ;)

...he'd be an asshole with a sense of humor?
posted by ardgedee at 6:46 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


I kind of love it that Reddit couldn't find this guy and Newsweek could.
posted by escabeche at 6:47 AM on March 6 [48 favorites]


Isn't that fortune only accessible in pizza and illegal drugs at the minute?

You can also spend them at Overstock.com or buy a trip to space.
posted by memebake at 6:47 AM on March 6


What a strange (and delightful) time to be alive.
posted by Skorgu at 6:48 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


buys Newsweek and shuts it down.

I thought Newsweek was doing just fine in that regards on their own?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:50 AM on March 6 [13 favorites]


The Newsweek article reads like the confessions of a stalker.
posted by Houstonian at 7:00 AM on March 6 [10 favorites]


Great, we used to just have to "not talk to the police." Now we have to "not talk to the press" either. Way to go, Ms. McGrath Goodman.
posted by spacewrench at 7:02 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Especially considering he did top secret work for the Federal Aviation Authority.

What makes you think it was "top secret"? Here's what the article says:

Nakamoto worked as a software engineer for the Federal Aviation Administration in New Jersey in the wake of the September 11 attacks, doing security and communications work, says Mitchell.

"It was very secret," she says. "He left that job sometime in 2001 and I don't think he's had a steady job since."


I'm not sure about the FAA's protocals specifically, but "very secret" is not a classification I've ever heard of. Maybe he just didn't feel like talking about work with a woman he was on the road to divorcing. Lots of people do security and communications software development for government agencies. He could have been creating a badge reader system for their offices. That would be classified work. So would encrypting emails or seeting up a program that removes metadata from outgoing messages. Just because someone does classified security and communications for a government agency doesn't make them a spook.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:06 AM on March 6 [5 favorites]


I think every time someone mentions having 800 gazillion billion dollars in Bitcoin in an article they should be required to put an asterisk next to it with the explanation, "May actually be worth between 0 and infinity dollars."
posted by codacorolla at 7:06 AM on March 6 [16 favorites]


I am the wealthiest human on the planet. In MondoDollars.
posted by mondo dentro at 7:07 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Great, we used to just have to "not talk to the police." Now we have to "not talk to the press" either. Way to go, Ms. McGrath Goodman.

What did you think would happen if you talked to the press? They were going to keep it to themselves?
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 7:08 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


The punctuation in the proposal is also consistent with how Dorian S. Nakamoto writes, with double spaces after periods and other format quirks.

FUCK YOOUUUUUUUUUU
posted by exogenous at 7:11 AM on March 6 [50 favorites]


"I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it," he says, dismissing all further queries with a swat of his left hand.

But he owns the most bitcoins, and is perfectly free to discuss it.
posted by Brian B. at 7:12 AM on March 6


I hold $12 million in MeFiCoin. Unfortunately, it's only useful for purchasing cat food and therapy appointments.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:13 AM on March 6 [8 favorites]


What did you think would happen if you talked to the press?

I thought they might respect the privacy of some of the people involved and focus on the issue(s) of public concern. Does it matter where the guy lives, what kind of car he drives, what his hobbies are, what his relative's names are? How, exactly?

Given the amount of money lost in the MtGox clusterfuck, it's entirely foreseeable that somebody with a shaky understanding of the system and poor impulse control would see his way clear to assaulting Nakamoto or his siblings.
posted by spacewrench at 7:13 AM on March 6 [12 favorites]


"He is very wary of government interference in general," she says. "When I was little, there was a game we used to play. He would say, 'Pretend the government agencies are coming after you.' And I would hide in the closet."

Train collector, paranoid libertarian asshole who worked for the government for most of his life, estranged from his entire family. I can confirm: this is probably the guy who invented Bitcoin.
posted by codacorolla at 7:15 AM on March 6 [62 favorites]


So - how do you approach this guy as a journalist. Clearly he didn't want to talk about bitcoin, but yet, he couldn't have assumed a journalist would want to talk about anything else, right? Or was he that naive? How does a journalist track him down, and then say?

"Oh hi, I'm just a journalist, and, I don't know who you are, random stranger who has absolutely nothing to do with bitcoin... Can we talk about... model trains?"

Like, clearly there must have been some form of pretext, no?
posted by symbioid at 7:16 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Isn't that fortune only accessible in pizza and illegal drugs at the minute?

So, the basic necessities of life then?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:17 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


Other than providing stalkery details, what public interest did this article serve to balance doxing a guy with possible/probable access to around $400 million in digital cash? Is there any actual news here relevant to the bitcoin ecosystem or the general public?
posted by bashos_frog at 7:19 AM on March 6 [5 favorites]


how do you approach this guy as a journalist

Sounds like she didn't - she social engineered his address out of a model train forum and then posed as an enthusiast, as far as I can see.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:20 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


"I obtained Nakamoto's email through a company he buys model trains from."

Perhaps Reddit et al can direct a bit of wrath towards the company that did this.
posted by Adam_S at 7:21 AM on March 6 [5 favorites]


This story filled me with a weird and heavy sadness. Nakamoto sounds like an unhappy person.

He has $400 million in BTC, but that's only if you pretend that the current exchange rates would apply IRL to that many BTC.

Also, what the hell was up with the photo of his house and car? What purpose did that serve?
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:22 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


This reads like fanfic.
posted by cellphone at 7:22 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Is there any actual news here relevant to the bitcoin ecosystem or the general public?

Bitcoin scammers now have a name and face to their next target. Kidnappers and extortionists, too.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:22 AM on March 6 [5 favorites]


He has $400 million in BTC, but that's only if you pretend that the current exchange rates would apply IRL to that many BTC.

Yeah... he doesn't have $400 million, except in a very abstract sense, because that would require someone or someones to want and be able to afford $400 million worth of Bitcoin. He couldn't, say, easily cash $10 million of that in and move to a gated community with 24-hour security without finding someone(s) interested in buying $10 million worth of Bitcoin.

From the comments:
Gates and Zuckerberg have the liquid wealth required to pay for good security.

Satoshi clearly does not. He's basically a sitting duck with a massive pile of illiquid Bitcoins.

Indeed, even if he lost the wallets and they were no longer accessible to him, how would he prove that to a home invader trying to get them? Most likely the attacker would try to beat it out of him.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:23 AM on March 6 [15 favorites]


Finding out who the guy is is a valid journalistic enterprise, but that is way to much information to give out about a guy who is sitting on half a billion dollars. Someone is going to murder/kidnap/extort the poor guy.
posted by empath at 7:26 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


There aren't nearly enough tinfoil hats in this thread. It's clearly all a very elaborate misdirection and/or proves that the government actually sponsored the creation of Bitcoin.
posted by Slothrup at 7:26 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


I wonder if Newsweek had any CERTAINLY NOT THE US GOVERNMENT help in outing this guy?

What better way to scare folks away from alternate currencies than having their inventor kidnapped for ransom?
posted by leotrotsky at 7:26 AM on March 6 [5 favorites]


Interesting, but yeah, the level of detail makes you queasy. Although I'm sure some of the outraged forums and blogs denouncing the article would have printed a lot of the same info if they had it. It doesn't seem impossible that a cranky, ill, reclusive retiree who hates the government would call the police on someone asking questions though.

I was under the impression that there was a Trinity College Dublin connection to the early messages and coding or whatever. Was that debunked? I know almost nothing about bitcoins but went to TCD myself and liked the idea the inventor was a Dub.
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:30 AM on March 6


Not that he didn't have good reason, but I'm always a bit tickled when the first thing uber-paranoid libertartians do is run to the police for protection and/or redressing of grievances.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:31 AM on March 6 [27 favorites]


> I thought they might respect the privacy of some of the people involved and focus on the issue(s) of public concern. Does it matter where the guy lives, what kind of car he drives, what his hobbies are, what his relative's names are? How, exactly?

A journalist doesn't get paid for writing nonstories. "I Think I Found Bitcoin's Inventor But I Can't Prove It To You" is not a story, and it will not run.

What did get published is, I agree, incredibly invasive for somebody who up-until-now has not been a public figure. I doubt there would have been any other way to out the inventor of Bitcoin, though; any combination of adequate identifying information will be sufficient, even if it's just an adequately-unique name and city of residence.
posted by ardgedee at 7:32 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


What better way to scare folks away from alternate currencies than having their inventor kidnapped for ransom?

That would make one hell of an Elmore Leonard book. *sigh*
posted by valkane at 7:33 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


What better way to scare folks away from alternate currencies than having their inventor kidnapped for ransom?

You must pay us in small, unmarked.... I mean, bitcoins with nonconsecutive serial numbers... huh.
posted by norm at 7:33 AM on March 6


And this article makes him, his family members, etc. all prime targets for kidnappers, government thugs, etc. sadly.  If he still possesses the BTC then he should cash-out enough to live a more secure and politically influential lifestyle.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:33 AM on March 6


I'll look at some market depths and currency converter maxes and we'll see how much he could cash out today and how that would immediately affect the market.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:37 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Hm, so is this the week the public learns the meaning of "dox"?
posted by maryr at 7:39 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I think the point of the concern for the level of doxxing is that he's not really able to cash out for that secure and influential life style. Indeed, I think given his level of concern over the government? I doubt he's ever going to cash out since that requires providing your IRL identity (ALL OF IT) to an entity for reporting to various agencies because holy jeeze lots of money and lots of laws about how that money changes hands. Given that he's been sitting on it this whole time? I can't see this newsweek story pushing him into changing that path.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:39 AM on March 6


the government actually sponsored the creation of Bitcoin.

HONEY POT!!
posted by octobersurprise at 7:39 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Why is everybody going straight to the assumption that, now he's been outed, he's going to continue to be isolated from the world and only the various randoms intent on evil will be lurking in his shadow?

Odds are far more likely he's the victim of attention from are throngs of people ready to camp on his lawn for interviews, his voice mail and email are be piling up with business offers, and so on.

It's not a fabulous outcome, but it's better than certain death.
posted by ardgedee at 7:40 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


"I would like to ask him about Bitcoin. This man is Satoshi Nakamoto."

"What?" The police officer balks. "This is the guy who created Bitcoin? It looks like he's living a pretty humble life."
When I drove a cab, I always got really annoyed with the assumptions people made about me based solely on my career. (Actual quote from a tourist to her husband: "Our cab driver's reading the London Review of Books, isn't that a hoot?") Therefore, I'm going to say that, sure, it's entirely possible that a sheriff's deputy from the suburbs of Los Angeles would be able to recognize the name of the Bitcoin creator. Why not?

But having said that, this "dialogue" sounds like fakiest fake that ever faked.
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:41 AM on March 6 [40 favorites]


(Oddly, this puts me in mind quite considerably of the Dr V's Magical Putter story. There's a tension between "of interest to the public" and "in the public interest"...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:42 AM on March 6 [8 favorites]


Unfortunately, it's only useful for purchasing cat food and therapy appointments.

I don't know what you're doing to your cat for it to need $12 million worth of therapy, but stop!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:43 AM on March 6 [9 favorites]


Seeing comments on YCombinator and Reddit about how unprofessional and unethical and wrong it is to doxx somebody is delightful.

I haven't clicked seen the guy's picture yet, but from this I can infer that Satoshi Nakamoto is a guy of unremarkable appearance, who holds predictable political views? Because if Nakamoto was an attractive younger woman with an opinion about something, it'd be all aboard the doxxmobile and man the turrets, let's go wreck her life.
posted by mhoye at 7:44 AM on March 6 [30 favorites]


The 10th Regiment of Foot Lots of people do security and communications software development for government agencies. He could have been creating a badge reader system for their offices. That would be classified work. So would encrypting emails or seeting up a program that removes metadata from outgoing messages. Just because someone does classified security and communications for a government agency doesn't make them a spook.

Yes, good point.
posted by memebake at 7:47 AM on March 6


When I drove a cab, I always got really annoyed with the assumptions people made about me based solely on my career.

I have a friend who has multiple, marketable advanced degrees (think engineering and biotech) and is literally the scion of the royal family of a small region in the Himalayas who drove a cab (and later a sedan) for a while because it was a quick way to make money for a south asian guy when he first moved to New York.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:48 AM on March 6 [6 favorites]


I am the wealthiest human on the planet. In MondoDollars.

I'm sure all that pales in comparison to my index funds. What kind of index? Guess.
posted by LionIndex at 7:48 AM on March 6 [16 favorites]


That would make one hell of an Elmore Leonard book. *sigh*

BTC were on a recent episode of Justified! That's as close as we're getting.

If I were Satoshi Nakamoto, I would cash out for whatever I could get and get the fuck out. It's absurd to think that he could get $400M for his BTC, but he could get something. Maybe he could work something out with the Winkelvii.

If the hacked exchanges ever had a chance in hell of scraping together even $1M, it would be like BTC Christmas if they could buy his BTC on the cheap and give those BTC to the victims of hacked exchanges.

It would be a humorous (and almost touching) end to the BTC saga if the creator would make the victims whole again...with post-Tulipmania BTC that are hardly worth anything.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:48 AM on March 6 [6 favorites]


Seeing comments on YCombinator and Reddit about how unprofessional and unethical and wrong it is to doxx somebody is delightful.

There are a few suggesting the internet detectives get on doxxing the journalist and model train CS rep who gave out the email address ASAP, too.
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:48 AM on March 6


"My brother is an asshole. What you don't know about him is that he's worked on classified stuff. His life was a complete blank for a while. You're not going to be able to get to him. He'll deny everything. He'll never admit to starting Bitcoin."

Great he's a government agent. Maybe this is in one of the unexploded Greenwald Snowden files bombs.
posted by bukvich at 7:49 AM on March 6


Sadly, I traded all my wealth for Flooz in the late 90s. Screw you Whoopie Goldberg!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:50 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Great he's a government agent. Maybe this is in one of the unexploded Greenwald Snowden files bombs.

BTC WAS A FALSE FLAG OPERATION DESIGNED TO MAKE THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC SYSTEM APPEAR TO BE BASICALLY FUNCTIONAL AND EFFECTIVE

WAKE UP SHEEPLE
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:53 AM on March 6 [30 favorites]


I think if the genders were reversed -- a man constantly contacting a woman after repeatedly being told to back off, then the man marching up to the woman's house while she phones the police and asks for officers to show up before answering the door, and then him posting photos on the Internet making it easy for anyone to find her... no, I don't think that would be an "all-aboard the doxxmobile" call. Quite the opposite, really.
posted by Houstonian at 7:54 AM on March 6 [14 favorites]


You know, I'm having a hard time substantiating the article's claim that Satoshi self-identifies as libertarian, unless distrust of the government is all that makes one qualified for the label.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:55 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


What's the most anyone has cashed out of a bitcoin exchange? Twenty bux?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:01 AM on March 6


One of the first people to start working with Bitcoin's founder in 2009 was Martti Malmi, 25, a Helsinki programmer who invested in Bitcoins. "I sold them in 2011 and bought a nice apartment," he says. "Today, I could have bought 100 nice apartments."

I don't know my Helsinki real estate, but an apartment has got to be worth more than $20. But maybe he didn't use an exchange?
posted by Area Man at 8:04 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


mondo dentro: "I am the wealthiest human on the planet. In MondoDollars."

Redeemable at Mondo Burger!
posted by Chrysostom at 8:06 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Satoshi Nakamoto's 2008 online proposal also hints at his age, with the odd reference to "disk space" - something that hasn't been an issue since the last millennium

Ho ho! Man ain't it the truth - I haven't been concerned about "disk space" since aught one. That's why I literally save and install everything I come across. Everyone smile while I screenshot this bad boy.

The punctuation in the proposal is also consistent . . . with double spaces after periods and other format quirks.

*clicks pen*
You just made the list, pal!

Seriously though, from the fakiest fake opening dialogue to the disregardiest faux-sleuthing, this thing reeks.
Boooo, I say. Boooo!
posted by petebest at 8:07 AM on March 6 [7 favorites]


Redeemable at Mondo Burger!

There goes my diet.
posted by mondo dentro at 8:08 AM on March 6


I am not seeing the photo of the house and car a bunch of people are complaining about. Was there a photo posted that Newsweek has now taken down?
posted by bukvich at 8:08 AM on March 6


It does indeed look like the photo of his house/car has been removed. Ostensibly still in the print issue, though?
posted by jbickers at 8:10 AM on March 6


Turns out, it was Nathan Fielder all along!
posted by inturnaround at 8:12 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


"I sold them in 2011 and bought a nice apartment," he says.

That's at the peak of the tulip craze. I should re-calibrate my question:

What's the most anyone has cashed out in, say, the past six months to a year? Are the glory days of cashing out a few hundred thousand over? Is it chump change only now? Or has the market remained robust, with plenty of players flipping five- and six-figures amounts back and forth?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:13 AM on March 6


aaaaaaannnd he's a meme now.
posted by jbickers at 8:13 AM on March 6 [8 favorites]


Things that Dorian has posted online (that I will not link to) look nothing like things Satoshi would have written. Everything about this looks sensationalist and flat-out wrong.
posted by bh at 8:15 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Houstonian: "I think if the genders were reversed -- a man constantly contacting a woman after repeatedly being told to back off, then the man marching up to the woman's house while she phones the police and asks for officers to show up before answering the door, and then him posting photos on the Internet making it easy for anyone to find her... no, I don't think that would be an "all-aboard the doxxmobile" call. Quite the opposite, really."

Depends on which hat they're wearing that day -- the fedora or the shiny knight's helmet...
posted by symbioid at 8:16 AM on March 6


Was there a photo posted that Newsweek has now taken down?

Yes, and the photo was detailed enough to show the house address on the curb. That was enough information, combined with the city, to readily identify his home address. I see that news sites in the Netherlands are reporting his complete home address.
posted by RichardP at 8:16 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


What's the most anyone has cashed out in, say, the past six months to a year? Are the glory days of cashing out a few hundred thousand over? Is it chump change only now? Or has the market remained robust, with plenty of players flipping five- and six-figures amounts back and forth?

The bitcoin economy has remained fairly healthy and stable. Mt. Gox is just one company involved here (and hasn't had credibility for a long time). It is very easy to move money in and out.

And the price of bitcoin did not hit $130, that was the price of coins on Mt. Gox when it looked like all of the coins were probably gone. Or to put it another way, the price of gox credit for coins which likely didn't even exist.
posted by bh at 8:18 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


RobotVoodooPower: You know, I'm having a hard time substantiating the article's claim that Satoshi self-identifies as libertarian, unless distrust of the government is all that makes one qualified for the label.

Furthermore, if the article is accurate then it means that he's a 70-something Japanese-American; his parents could very well have lost everything after being stuck in the internment camps. He doesn't have to be a libertarian in order to have a pretty damn good reason to have some significant ambivalence about the government.
posted by PsychoKick at 8:20 AM on March 6 [8 favorites]


Yeah I think the main reason for the last update to MultiBit was to rid it of the MtGox exchange rate calculation.
posted by localroger at 8:21 AM on March 6


In related news, Newsweek's first issue since going back to print is now a collector's item, complete with now-pulled photo from online article. Congratulations, viral marketing agency!
posted by jbickers at 8:21 AM on March 6


Poor guy is going to rapidly lose his quiet life now. Every beggar, crank, crook and extortionist is going to be beating a path to his door because of an unsubstantiated claim that he has $400m tucked away somewhere. And if (as is entirely possible) he no longer has those coins (he may have deleted them, lost them, transferred them etc) he can't prove it to anyone's satisfaction.

I'm not convinced of the ethics of this "outing" :(
posted by samworm at 8:22 AM on March 6


Why all this talk about kidnapping? That's not a thing that happens in Southern California.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:25 AM on March 6


There are a few suggesting the internet detectives get on doxxing the journalist

Her name is right there on the article.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 8:35 AM on March 6


his parents could very well have lost everything after being stuck in the internment camps.

Well no, if you read the article it says his mom brought him to California in 1959.
posted by todayandtomorrow at 8:37 AM on March 6 [6 favorites]


From Hacker News: Meeting Satoshi

tldr: 2011 someone buys at their creperie and pays in Bitcoin - the first customer to do so. Declined to have a celebratory picture taken. Today they recognise him in the Newsweek photo.
posted by memebake at 8:38 AM on March 6 [5 favorites]


Great self-PR by the Reddit BTC crew as usual: the response to a totally normal article about the founder of Bitcoin = GET THE JOURNALIST SEE HOW HE LIKES BEING ABDUCTED
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:38 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


The author is responding to criticisms on Twitter.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 8:44 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Great self-PR by the Reddit BTC crew as usual: the response to a totally normal article about the founder of Bitcoin = GET THE JOURNALIST SEE HOW HE LIKES BEING ABDUCTED

Going by Reddit's previous AWSUM SLOOTHING SKILLZ, they'll probably end up sending 100 pizzas to some poor woman three states away who writes for the neighborhood newsletter.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:46 AM on March 6 [8 favorites]


Satoshi is awesome. I hope the libertarians help him protect his quiet life.

Is that a Member's Only jacket? I think I had one of those in like 1985.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:46 AM on March 6


Why is journalistic integrity always measured in units of shreds?
posted by oceanjesse at 8:49 AM on March 6 [10 favorites]


What better way to scare folks away from alternate currencies than having their inventor kidnapped for ransom?

I wanted to unpack the illogic here. To start with, there's the fact that there are plenty of people who have _actual_ money in the US and no bodyguards yet they manage not to be kidnapped. But say this happens. Exactly how do you think this is going to scare people from using their own bitcoin? Do you think they'll suddenly be covered with kidnapping pheromones?
posted by tavella at 8:52 AM on March 6 [5 favorites]


The bitcoin economy has remained fairly healthy and stable.

Well, not really, but we've covered that extensively in the Mt Gox thread.

It is very easy to move money in and out.

No, it is not. This is blatant falsehood. Again, this was covered extensively in the Mt Gox thread.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:59 AM on March 6 [6 favorites]


todayandtomorrow: Well no, if you read the article it says his mom brought him to California in 1959.

Thanks, I must have missed that part. Though frankly, I think that makes distrust even more understandable than internment camps. Living in a country that was firebombing your parents (figuratively speaking) makes things rather muddier.
posted by PsychoKick at 9:01 AM on March 6


I'm also curious about Satoshi's ability to cash out as it relates to bitcoin liquidity.

The *coin exchange I have any experience with is vaultofsatoshi.com, though the extent of my use of the site is to sell dogecoins in the amount of approximately 0.05USD. Anyone can view their order book without signing in: https://www.vaultofsatoshi.com/orderbook

If someone with bitcoin wanted to unload it, the top 20 bids at the moment would get you $16093 for about 25.25BTC, an average price of $637.30 per coin. The low is $598 and the high is $652. Because only the top 20 bids are shown, I don't know how quickly the price drops off. The next 25 coins might only get you $10k for all I know. (the last 24 hour volume was only 26.6BTC)

To actually get a check or wire transfer, you have to complete an identify verification process, which involves sending images of photo ID and proof of residence (such as a utility bill). (I haven't completed this process). Having done that "level 1" verification, you can withdraw a very limited amount of USD, $9500 per week.

So, using this site and the basic level of verification, Satoshi (or anyone with a large amount of coin) could convert it into dollars on a website's ledger, and supposedly withdraw just shy of $40k per month. But the devil is in the details. It doesn't look like you can do it particularly quickly on a single exchange, both because of small trade volume and legal restrictions on fiat currency transfers.
posted by jepler at 9:03 AM on March 6


I'm going to be pretty amused if it turns out, after all the sleuthing and noise others have made about trying to find the mysterious person hiding under the alias "Satoshi Nakamoto", someone found him by... looking for Satoshi Nakamoto.
posted by tavella at 9:09 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Why all this talk about kidnapping? That's not a thing that happens in Southern California.

Kidnappings are many times more common than people who own $400M in internet funny money. I mean, I don't think he's going to be kidnapped, but I could easily see people at least wanting to. Bitcoin is a weird universe with more than a few unsavory people in it.

Total side note: The Birthday Party is a terrific book about a real-life kidnapping in NYC - I believe it's been optioned by Scorsese's people, but who knows if it'll ever get filmed. It's about a federal prosecutor who gets kidnapped when muggers see that he has an exorbitant amount of money in his checking account. He has to survive the weekend, while the muggers try to finagle a way to get him to withdraw all of his money when the bank opens on Monday. Also, Alpha Dog is a terrific, underrated movie about a real-life kidnapping in Southern California, although that case involved a teenager.

...

More likely than kidnapping, however, he'll just be harassed, and otherwise made to feel uncomfortable.

On the one hand, there's nothing inherently wrong with tracking down the creator of Bitcoin. Stuff like showing a picture of his house and car crosses the line, but the general idea of finding the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto is fair game as a story.

On the other hand, it is obvious that he prefers his life to be private, and it's not even as if his internet persona is all that public-facing. Judging from how Satoshi appears in this article - avowedly libertarian, reluctant to ask for help, unwilling to delegate, grumpy, meticulous, prone to calling people "idiot" and cutting off contact - there's every chance that he has developed a critical view of what Bitcoin has become.

I can't imagine that being in the newspapers makes him feel good. At all.

I also imagine that having $400M in internet funny money is as much of a curse as it is a gift. How do you unload that amount of BTC, while also retaining a modicum of privacy, without every fedora-on-the-fora either trying to cheat you, or calling for your head because you may be devaluing Bitcoin?
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:11 AM on March 6


I'm also curious about Satoshi's ability to cash out as it relates to bitcoin liquidity.

Maybe he could just sell some of them to Winklevii directly, without going through an exchange, or to one of the purported ETF's being created?
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:12 AM on March 6


No, it is not. This is blatant falsehood. Again, this was covered extensively in the Mt Gox thread.

I have had no issues whatsoever with Coinbase. I realize that some people like to stay anonymous, but that is not something I am concerned about.

Coinbase is also not the only company that can do this without acting like a criminal enterprise.
posted by bh at 9:17 AM on March 6


I'm going to be pretty amused if it turns out, after all the sleuthing and noise others have made about trying to find the mysterious person hiding under the alias "Satoshi Nakamoto", someone found him by... looking for Satoshi Nakamoto.

Just wait until you read this, then! (That is what happened. No if about it.)
posted by Houstonian at 9:18 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Amusingly, there are surely libertarian leaning personal security firms who'd be honored to let Satoshi Nakamoto pay for their services in BTC, especially some very old BTC.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:22 AM on March 6


This is the least cyberpunk article I have ever read about Bitcoin.
posted by aubilenon at 9:26 AM on March 6


I have had no issues whatsoever with Coinbase.

That is not the experience of most people. Again, we've been over this extensively: it is nontrivial to turn BTC from Magic Internet Dollars into Actual Real World Dollars.

I'm ending this derail but seriously, go read the other thread where far more intelligent people than I have deconstructed exactly how not easy it is.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:27 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


To start with, there's the fact that there are plenty of people who have _actual_ money in the US and no bodyguards yet they manage not to be kidnapped.

Sure, but most people with 400 mil keep it in a bank, not tucked under their mattress. If you knew someone had a few hundred million in cash, in their house, that would be a very different situation.

And since there basically aren't any functioning banks for Bitcoin right now, it's fairly easy to deduce that he probably has those Bitcoins either at home, or in somewhere accessible to him, as a sort of cash equivalent.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:27 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Yes, Houstonian, I read the article, thus my amusement (especially since I do genealogy and have done the same sort of sleuthing in much the same databases to figure out if Mary Doe was the Mary Doe I was looking for). The 'if' was just because it hasn't been absolutely confirmed yet.
posted by tavella at 9:28 AM on March 6


This is the least cyberpunk article I have ever read about Bitcoin.

For realz? A grumpy Japanese American crypto antique model train collector? Sounds dead like Bill Gibson wrote him to me.
posted by valkane at 9:30 AM on March 6 [16 favorites]



And since there basically aren't any functioning banks for Bitcoin right now


Safety deposit box?
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:30 AM on March 6


it is nontrivial to turn BTC from Magic Internet Dollars into Actual Real World Dollars

But it is trivial to make purchases on Overstock.com with BTC, right? Not saying it's an elegant solution, but they certainly carry high-dollar items that could easily be resold.
posted by jbickers at 9:32 AM on March 6


That's not the same as 'easy.'
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:35 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


So are you not going to stop the derail after all, or...? I guess only on your last word.
posted by Mapes at 9:39 AM on March 6


maryr: "Hm, so is this the week the public learns the meaning of "dox"?"

MtDox, in fact.
posted by chavenet at 9:39 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Feckless fecal is full of shit, here are actual numbers. The five constituent USD exchanges of the winkdex are my source, minus local bitcoins which is not relevant plus Coinbase.

On the exchanges, he could sell about $7 million without dropping any price below 600. Coinbase talks about volume discounts at 1 mill a month, so I assume they would buy a million immediately.

This assumes a spherical frictionless market - everyone is asleep but Satoshi. IRL I think more bids would come in as people looked to buy cheap coin from Satoshi.

If he wanted to cash out more than a few million at once, he should seek a wealthy, possibly institutional buyer. Falcon Global offered to buy 15 million worth of FBI seized coin. Barry Silbert is buying or bought 20 mill for an institutional exchange. I am sure the Winklevosses would be honored.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:40 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


The article is in google cache, that way you don't reward (pay) newsweek for doxing the guy. @petrakramer
posted by jeffburdges at 9:41 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Reddit is strictly anti-doxxing or sees it as violence or vigilantism, I don't see it incongruous they are a bit critical.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:43 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Reddit is strictly anti-doxxing or sees it as violence or vigilantism

BWAHAHAHAHAHA--

*wipes tears off cheeks, catches breath*

HAHAHAHAHA
posted by zombieflanders at 9:46 AM on March 6 [13 favorites]


Having recently been on the receiving end of some unwelcome publicity, I would like to say that the people talking about this guy's life being "ruined" are real drama queens. Not that I agree with publishing the guy's address publicly. That's a bridge too far, IMO.
posted by wierdo at 9:49 AM on March 6


The article is in google cache, that way you don't reward (pay) newsweek for doxing the guy.

. . . but you still get to avail yourself of the service they're providing.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 9:49 AM on March 6


On the exchanges, he could sell about $7 million without dropping any price below 600.

But you may or may not be able to withdraw that $7 million dollars from the exchanges.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:50 AM on March 6


Meanwhile, a CEO of bitcoin was found dead in Singapore yesterday. Says it was not foul play, but people who lose a fortune want to find someone to blame.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:55 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Because if Nakamoto was an attractive younger woman with an opinion about something, it'd be all aboard the doxxmobile and man the turrets, let's go wreck her life.

Exactly what I was thinking.
posted by KathrynT at 9:57 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Bitcoin isn't a company and there is no such thing as a CEO of bitcoin. Autumn Radtke was CEO of First Meta, a company which runs exchanges for multiple currencies and which got its start peddling virtual credit cards in Second Life.
posted by localroger at 9:58 AM on March 6 [5 favorites]


That's not the same as 'easy.'

Yeah, what's hilarious about discussions of bitcoin is that the "easiness" is always asserted, then qualified with scenarios like buying expensive watches and reselling them or seeking out super-high-rollers and assuming they'll just snap them up. It's never "X amount of cash for X amount of bitcoin in X amount of time," it's more like 5/8ths hope and 3/8ths anecdote. Which is fine, I guess, if you're all about the art of the deal, but less so if you just want to use it as currency.

A grumpy Japanese American crypto antique model train collector? Sounds dead like Bill Gibson wrote him to me.

Once again demonstrating that it's Bill Gibson's future. We just endure it.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:01 AM on March 6 [12 favorites]


There are, however, Official Shibes of Dogecoin.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:01 AM on March 6


While I think publishing someone's home address in a major periodical is not cool, I feel like the line between "journalism" and "doxxing" has gotten pretty hazy in the last few years. Digging up the shadowy founder of Bitcoin strikes me as a pretty solid journalistic endeavor and I'm not sure comparing investigative journalism to stalking or whatever is entirely fair.

I mean, it sort of is, but that's also sort of how they do their jobs well.
posted by jess at 10:05 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


"I don't think he's in any trouble," I say. "I would like to ask him about Bitcoin. This man is Satoshi Nakamoto."

"What?" The police officer balks. "This is the guy who created Bitcoin? It looks like he's living a pretty humble life."


Really? The deputy knew the creator of Bitcoin by name?
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:10 AM on March 6


Judging from how Satoshi appears in this article - avowedly libertarian

Again, I can't find any such admission by Satoshi himself, assuming you are using the definition of "avowedly" that means "open admission". But that doesn't mean he isn't, we just lack a fool-proof test for libertarian sympathies. Perhaps this 1955 pamphlet on How To Spot A Communist might give us a head start.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:10 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


Can we really not derail this thread with tales of how libertarians are victims of a cruel society?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:11 AM on March 6 [8 favorites]


People keep saying he doesn't 'really' have $400 million. Okay, sure, maybe he couldn't cash it all out today.

But it would be fairly trivial for him to slowly sell over a 100 day time frame, and probably come out with $50 million USD or so, without losing too much to slippage. Who is to say he hasn't already done that? People act like he's 'not really rich' or doesn't 'really' have access to money. That's bullshit. The Winklevoss twins have been buying BC for a year now. What would happen if he called them up and said "Hey, want to buy $10mm worth of BTC, I"ll sell it to you for 20% lower than market value if you buy it all 'under the radar.' They do it, he comes away with a staggering amount of liquid USD. Again, who is to say he hasn't done this already?
posted by jjmoney at 10:16 AM on March 6


I have been reading the MtGox thread since it was started, and I definitely don't get how it's "all about how hard it is" to convert Btc to USD. It appears to be relatively straightforward -- one might even say "easy" -- if you have a modest amount, say under USD$1000, and you're willing to fill out the paperwork documenting yourself, and you stick with reputable exchanges.

On the other hand if you want to convert USD$400,000,000 or even $1,000,000 or you want to hide your conversion from your soon to be ex-wife or the DEA, that will be another story for a variety of practical and legal reasons.

The wave of exchanges requiring all kinds of documentation isn't surprising, and derives both from general anti-money-laundering requirements and the exchanges getting That Memo (which PayPal got a year or two into its startup) that says you do not get to be exempt from the banking regulations just because your website says "we are not a bank" if you are in fact doing certain things (like holding deposits for your customers) which are customarily defined as "banking." You will be asked for similar documentation when you go to whatever brick and local mortar bank you want to open an account at so that you can receive the check or wire transfer from your Btc exchange. And make no mistake, the reason is that they need to show they can fill out the CTR correctly if you ever come in with 150 pictures of Ben Franklin.
posted by localroger at 10:17 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Reddit is strictly anti-doxxing or sees it as violence or vigilantism, I don't see it incongruous they are a bit critical.

Reddit is only anti-doxxing if the person being doxxed is one of their own.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:17 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


localroger: "Bitcoin isn't a company and there is no such thing as a CEO of bitcoin."

Hey, you're talking to the CEO of the Roman denarius here.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:20 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


This article is fascinating and troubling. I think it's ethical reporting; the identity of the Bitcoin creator is a matter of public interest. And not just prurient curiosity; the origin of Bitcoin speaks both to its technical credibility and its political motivations.

I don't think it's very solid reporting. It's plausible, but it's just not quite enough. It's so strange he'd use his birth name. But I can believe the guy thought using that name was anonymous enough since it's a name he didn't use for 40 years, indeed was only found in some funky citizenship database. Also the guy was apparently working out of his house solely via email, that carries a false sense of anonymity for a lot of people. So.. maybe?

Hard evidence of identity would come from tracing the Bitcoin we know belongs to Satoshi. The Meeting Satoshi story memebake posted speaks to that, the folks there are already trying to find the transaction and trace the coins.

I worry about the poor guy in LA, whether he actually has $400M or not. Not just his physical safety, but also his privacy. Going to be a stressful few days at his house.
posted by Nelson at 10:21 AM on March 6


Didn't some sub-reddit dox an Olympic volunteer for no reason other than her appearance?
posted by Area Man at 10:23 AM on March 6


Anyone else think this guy didn't think BitCoin would take off like this and now can't get out? Maybe he's to BitCoin what L. Ron Hubbard was to Scientology.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 10:32 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Satoshi Nakamoto's 2008 online proposal also hints at his age, with the odd reference to "disk space" - something that hasn't been an issue since the last millennium

Ho ho! Man ain't it the truth - I haven't been concerned about "disk space" since aught one. That's why I literally save and install everything I come across. Everyone smile while I screenshot this bad boy.


Ironically, I spent yesterday and today so far trying to figure out what I can delete, what I’m going to regret deleting, what I can move, and how many new drives I need. I’ve got 10T+ of drives, but no amount is ever enough and big drives just make it harder to go through and clean out data.
posted by bongo_x at 10:46 AM on March 6


Also, it kind of amuses me how the previous investigators got fucked over by their own biases. "Such a weird name! Clearly an exotic pseudonym put on by a Westerner!" As opposed to, y'know, someone's name.
posted by tavella at 10:47 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I believe newsweek removed links to the picture, but the picture is still there at the actual picture URL. (I'm here to nitpick)
posted by rmd1023 at 10:52 AM on March 6


jamesonandwater: "Seeing comments on YCombinator and Reddit about how unprofessional and unethical and wrong it is to doxx somebody is delightful.

There are a few suggesting the internet detectives get on doxxing the journalist and model train CS rep who gave out the email address ASAP, too.
"

Who will dox the doxxers?
posted by symbioid at 11:00 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


In related news...Bitcoin setups!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:01 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


I-N-D-O-X-I-O-N


Indoxication!
posted by symbioid at 11:01 AM on March 6


Again, who is to say he hasn't done this already?

Not an expert, but:

The Bitcoin blockchain is a public record of balances and transactions. There are a few wallets with a staggering number (nominally worth $400m) which were mined very early on, presumably by Satoshi.

If he had sold a large amount, they would have been transferred to a different wallet controlled by the buyer*. Since nobody's found any such transactions in the blockchain, whoever (presumably Satoshi) can't have cashed those wallets in. Those coins haven't moved since before Bitcoin were worth anything.

* If he gifted someone the private key** and promised cross-my-heart to destroy his key, effective control of a wallet could have been transferred that way. But whoever bought them would also then have had to sit on them. Also, nobody does this.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:22 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


drove a cab (and later a sedan) for a while because it was a quick way to make money for a south asian guy when he first moved to New York.

Not once, but twice in five years, NYC South Asian car service drivers, upon learning that I was a professor at Well Known University interested in and slightly knowledgeable about South Asian culture, have handed me thick book manuscripts they have been working on in between fares for my perusal in the back seat, and my professional evaluation.

One of them was actually quite erudite, on the feminine spirt in Hindu metaphysics. The other was a memoir, but mostly seemed to be an ode to the local Basmati rice of the man's boyhood, as far as I could tell. Dude was obsessed with rice, and insisted I had never tried *real* Basmati if I hadn't been to his home village.

I used to work in a kitchen many years ago where the line cooks and dishwashers were Haitian undocumented immigrants. A bunch of them were dentists and engineers back in Haiti, yet here they were chopping onions and scraping shit off white peoples' plates while discussing very sophisticated matters in French.

So yeah, never assume.
posted by spitbull at 11:38 AM on March 6 [24 favorites]


Again, this was covered extensively in the Mt Gox thread.

Time for a Bitcoin 101, amirite?

I kid, I kid.
posted by spitbull at 11:41 AM on March 6


This sheriff thing, you realize this stuff has been front/home page news, cops can read...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 11:47 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Satoshi is awesome. I hope the libertarians help him protect his quiet life.
What would this look like? Are we talking about a Bioshock type deal here?
posted by Bwithh at 12:12 PM on March 6 [5 favorites]


Well, maybe it would just be, "sell some bitcoin and move your family to Malibu and learn how Alec Baldwin, et. all shield themselves, etc., ...."
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:17 PM on March 6


> Digging up the shadowy founder of Bitcoin strikes me as a pretty solid journalistic endeavor

Right, but revealing personally-identifiable information about someone who has an obvious need for privacy is going too far.

They could have written exactly the same article and redacted, for example, the name of the small town in California which he lives, or the different first name he actually uses, and it'd be exactly as interesting, and a lot more dangerous.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:27 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


learn how Alec Baldwin, et. all shield themselves

Can you picture Satoshi screaming homophobic epithets at Newsweek reporters?
posted by spitbull at 12:34 PM on March 6


Okay, bad example.

et al. not et. all (Jeez, I'm an idiot).
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:37 PM on March 6


Depends on which hat they're wearing that day -- the fedora or the shiny knight's helmet...

It's almost like Reddit comprises thousands of independent individuals, with wildly differing views among them, rather than being a single collective.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:09 PM on March 6 [7 favorites]


Blazecock: I just think unsolicited pigeonholing is gross. Doubly gross when you consider Satoshi spent his formative years in Japan and likely has a very different perception of privacy and individualism than the average American.

I've composed ripped off a short poem about it:

Bits of my creation, is it real?
Its my creation, I do not know
From my heart and from my hand and
Why don't people understand my intentions?

posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:19 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Joe Bel Bruno is tweeting live about a pack of reporters chasing Nakomto on his way to downtown LA. Apparently he decided to talk to an AP reporter and a bunch of other vultures heroes of the fourth estate are on the hunt. Business Insider has a brief summary complete with video of Nakamoto being harassed while demonstrating his anti-gravity device.
posted by Nelson at 1:28 PM on March 6


(The video is rotated 90°)
posted by Nelson at 1:29 PM on March 6


Nelson: "Joe Bel Bruno is tweeting live about a pack of reporters chasing Nakomto on his way to downtown LA."



This is gross :-\
posted by Strass at 1:32 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


BungaDunga is right; bitcoin transactions are public and there are a bunch of early addresses that mined a lot of coins that are reckoned to belong to satoshi. Generally they have been left untouched with nothing spent or moved.
posted by memebake at 1:33 PM on March 6


He's now crossing over into Michael Larson territory.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 1:35 PM on March 6


The 10th Regiment of Foot: "I don't know what you're doing to your cat for it to need $12 million worth of therapy, but stop!"

Each cat only needs $100 worth of therapy.

MisantropicPainforest: "Reddit is only anti-doxxing if the person being doxxed is one of their own."

Reddit is composed of tens of millions of regular users; it's misleading to say the community as a whole has such a brightline policy on such a nuanced subject.
posted by Mitheral at 1:35 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


This is gross :-\

That's a fucking understatement. What a bunch of assholes.

NOBODY OWES YOU A GODDAMN INTERVIEW, YOU MORONS.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:36 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


complete with video of Nakamoto being harassed while demonstrating his anti-gravity device

Actually, that was Neil DeGrasse Tyson and the video wasn't so much anti-Gravity as pointing out a few of its embarrassing flaws while praising it as a whole.
posted by polecat at 1:37 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I'm only half-clear on what's happening with #bitcoinchase but I find it pretty damn hilarious.
posted by naju at 1:45 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


So Satoshi Nakamoto is found and within 8 hours or so is being chased around the streets by mobs of reporters. This is, as we say so often these days, so William Gibson.

Apart from the concerns for his safety that have been expressed, there are ways that this could work out well for him. He basically wrote singlehanded one of the most innovative and impressive pieces of software engineering in the internet age. (It has since been re-worked a lot, but still he laid all the major foundations). And he gave it away for free, open-source. Once the fuss dies down a bit, perhaps some opportunities could go his way.
posted by memebake at 1:53 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


It's funny to me how people are all "No way he got caught using his real name, he's too smart for that!" If the prosecution's case is correct, "Dread Pirate Roberts" of Silk Road fame was caught via exactly these sorts of simple mistakes. If you read about other investigations of high-level criminals, you see these sorts of things happening a lot; an investigator catching a lucky break because the criminal made some simple error.

I think in real life it's just extremely difficult, if not impossible, to be like the invincible super criminal masterminds we see in stories who always plan for everything, cover every track, and are one step ahead of everybody.

I think the reason people find it hard to believe Nakamoto was traced this way is their own intellectual vanity: they know that they're so smart they would never be caught, so surely Nakamoto would be untraceable. But in reality no one is perfect, and everyone has likely already made a few slips that people tracking them in the future could use that they're likely not even aware of.

Nakamoto is smart, but he's not a god. It's entirely believable he either overlooked this point about using his real name or didn't think it was an issue or didn't even think of it at all because it slipped his mind.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:57 PM on March 6


word coming through on twitter is that he's denying any involvement in bitcoin
posted by memebake at 1:58 PM on March 6


But not clear whether he means now, or ever, from my reading.
posted by memebake at 2:00 PM on March 6


Maybe he used his real name because in 2008 he had no reason to think it would become a big deal.
posted by exogenous at 2:00 PM on March 6 [8 favorites]


Gus Fring: I'm supporting my community. I hide in plain sight, same as you. Are we done?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:02 PM on March 6 [5 favorites]


If you read about other investigations of high-level criminals

Note: no one is saying the inventor of Bitcoin is a criminal. I'm sure you didn't intend to imply that yourself, but your comment could be read that way. As far as we know the Bitcoin creator(s) are smart cryptohackers who wanted to keep a low profile. No particular criminal intent in that. Also an unrealistic hope, particularly given the overtly political aspects of Bitcoin.
posted by Nelson at 2:07 PM on March 6


Note: no one is saying the inventor of Bitcoin is a criminal. I'm sure you didn't intend to imply that yourself, but your comment could be read that way.

Yes, sorry, that was meant to refer to DPR. Bad writing on my part.

Maybe he used his real name because in 2008 he had no reason to think it would become a big deal.

I think this is exactly what happens. If you made something on a lark or as a personal project, you're probably not thinking it will someday become this world-spanning behemoth even if you believe it might happen. You're just not going to be taking the kinds of precautions that might be necessary against future scrutiny.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:13 PM on March 6


This is apparently a legit tweet from LA Times reporter:

@byandreachang: Nakamoto now in DTLA. Told me in elevator that he's not involved with #Bitcoin, engaged in weird car chase "all for a free lunch."

and

@byandreachang: Nakamoto, when I asked him in elevator why he told Newsweek he used to be involved with #bitcoin: "No no no I was never involved."

The plot thickens.
posted by memebake at 2:14 PM on March 6


Is this all an elaborate troll job?
posted by playertobenamedlater at 2:16 PM on March 6


It certainly seems like he's playing one game or another right now. Kind of fascinating.
posted by naju at 2:19 PM on March 6


Awesome!
posted by Houstonian at 2:20 PM on March 6


Apparently it started when he picked a random reporter on his doorstep and drove off to get Sushi. LA Times has a tweet-summary
posted by memebake at 2:24 PM on March 6


wait, after I posted that link they changed it to something else.
posted by memebake at 2:26 PM on March 6


he's not involved with #Bitcoin, engaged in weird car chase

#notOJsrealkillereither
posted by octobersurprise at 2:32 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


the identity of the Bitcoin creator is a matter of public interest

Why?

He's not involved with the project anymore. And probably deleted all his coins years ago.
posted by ymgve at 2:43 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Another example of why you shouldn't get your news just from the news.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 2:43 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


The guy is kinda fucked. He probably is the father of bitcoin; the way he's reported to have initially responded, "that has all gone to other people now," implies a then when maybe he was exactly what the reporter thinks, the guy who wrote the original algorithm and did that early mining.

But he's just a normal guy who never leveraged it, didn't really believe it would get so big and wanted to have nothing to do with it once it did. Others are realizing the experiment which he meant to set in motion which was his major concern, and maybe he's one of those people who doesn't want to own a yacht the size of Manhattan.

But let's say he does have, on a USB drive somewhere most likely, the wallet key which unlocks one of those massive antediluvian bitcoin accounts. Probably not even in a safe deposit box, since when he created that coin it would have been worth less than the USB drive.

There's no way in the current climate for him to reliably leverage such a huge amount; he doesn't have the kind of contacts people with hundreds of millions of dollars to their name tend to develop for the sake of managing and protecting their assets. No, he's got a USB drive in a tin can on top of the refrigerator which, in the hands of the right person who does have such contacts, is worth millions.

It doesn't matter that those people can't exchange the bitcoin for exchange value either; there are enough people who believe in bitcoin as a medium, and who are desperate or ruthless enough to covet such a wallet, that literal small armies of mercenaries could be raised for the purpose of shaking him down.

So he's gone from "it's all behind me" to "it was never me," probably understanding that those early wallets are so potentially valuable that there are people willing to torture and kill him on the off chance that they might be able to get control of them. It's like the world finding out that you have the Hope Diamond in your personal gem collection, protected by locks you bought at Ace Hardware and your pet basset hound.

But here's the rub: He can't even leverage those wallets in more manageable, reasonable amounts, because the blockchain is public, and everyone is now watching those early wallets. As soon as transactions start to get credited against them the cat is out of the bag, and he's announced to the world that he does in fact control all that coin.

At that point all he can do is read The Pelican Brief and try to pick up some survival tips, and hope he doesn't care how many of his relatives get killed by would-be blackmailers.
posted by localroger at 3:08 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


There is a good chance Newsweek got it wrong, and their report misrepresented his denial into a partial denial or twisted it in some way, not wanting to ruin their good story. The Dorian S. Nakamato newsweek wrote about has some online prescence, on Amazon reviews and train message boards etc, and his writing style does not seem much like the Bitcoin founder's style.

If this isn't the real Satoshi Nakamato, you can bet the hunt for the real one is about to really hot up - all the news organisations in the world have seen what a big deal this is now.
posted by memebake at 3:16 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


there are people willing to torture and kill him

Really? I've seen a similar statement in many places today and it seems pretty hyperbolic. Average joes win millions of dollars in the lottery on a fairly regular basis, and while they are certainly the target of scammers no one is kidnapping or killing or torturing them .. and they have actual money.

If indeed he is the Satoshi I see no reason that he couldn't email the Winklevosses or whomever and sell his bitcoins for USD. Hell, they would probably be thrilled to help him out. I would be surprised if they hadn't tried to contact him already to make a deal.
posted by jess at 3:20 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Really? I've seen a similar statement in many places today and it seems pretty hyperbolic. Average joes win millions of dollars in the lottery on a fairly regular basis, and while they are certainly the target of scammers no one is kidnapping or killing or torturing them .. and they have actual money.

On the one hand, probably is hyperbolic. On the other hand, the lottery analogy doesn't work, because crypto true believers see it as a new economy. Right now, that economy, or at least the lion's share of it represented by Bitcoin and the various exchanges, is almost literally in his hands. Combine that with the fact that it had a large appeal to a lot of unsavory businesses, almost all of which were stones that have been overturned by US and international law enforcement, and there's a very good chance a bunch of people are out for actual blood.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:28 PM on March 6


If this isn't the real Satoshi Nakamato,

...then the guy has one hell of a lawsuit coming. He might end up owning a TV network.

Average joes win millions of dollars in the lottery on a fairly regular basis, and while they are certainly the target of scammers no one is kidnapping or killing or torturing them

There's a reason for that. Wait for it...

.. and they have actual money.

Right. They can hire managers, put their assets in a bank, and arrange for security.

If indeed he is the Satoshi I see no reason that he couldn't email the Winklevosses

People like this guy do not have the Winklevosses' email address. Even if the Winkoevosses would like to hear from him there really isn't a path to make that connection which both parties would be likely to trust.
posted by localroger at 3:30 PM on March 6


The other reason the lottery analogy doesn't work is because those average joes who won the lottery probably do not have the millions of dollars around that could be stolen the way one breaks in and steals a TV; they have banks and financial services that keep it out of immediate reach, so that trying to physically rob it is more difficult to accomplish.
posted by foxfirefey at 3:30 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


the identity of the Bitcoin creator is a matter of public interest

-Why?


Because any bitcoin-enabled criminal could be the creator if the creator is unknown.
posted by Brian B. at 3:31 PM on March 6


The other problem Satoshi might have is that his highly secret former day job might involve people who would be unthrilled to find their former colleague and holder of their secrets at the center of so much attention. We know who Valerie Plame is today precisely because nobody was supposed to know she was really working for the CIA and not the FAA the nuclear power industry.
posted by localroger at 3:36 PM on March 6


Because any bitcoin-enabled criminal could be the creator if the creator is unknown.

So what? The thing that's cool about Bitcoin is that you can see how it works for yourself. If you don't trust it (or don't understand it) you don't have to use it. But at least some people who do understand it, are interested. If it works, it doesn't matter that a criminal thought it up. (That's getting into the Wagner: Brilliant Composer or Obnoxious Anti-Semite mess. Except in this case, whether it "works" is not just a matter of taste and morals, but math.)
posted by spacewrench at 3:37 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


So what?

So it's a public interest.
posted by Brian B. at 3:39 PM on March 6


I'm afraid the situation pretty much passes the public interest test without breathing hard; few movies have a maguffin as impressive as the USB thumb drive with one less than 1K file on it which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars -- but really only to a few people who are already rich enough to leverage it.

If Satoshi is the Satoshi I don't really believe he'd have destroyed or forgotten the key; the kind of people who do that kind of cryptography tend to be obsessive about that kind of thing.

But it could be anywhere. He could have emailed it to himself via his Hotmail account and it's on their servers. It could be steganographically hidden in a portrait on the wall of his house. It could be printed on paper and locked in a safe deposit box. If he was really hardcore he might have memorized it. It could be on a FTP server anywhere on the planet. It could be inscribed inside his basset hound's collar. It's so small, and so easily hidden, and so portable, that there is no way to know unless he comes clean.
posted by localroger at 3:46 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]




Ah, the Radtke story again. HER DEATH WAS SO UNNATURAL but authorities do not suspect foul play.
posted by localroger at 3:49 PM on March 6


Right now, that economy, or at least the lion's share of it represented by Bitcoin and the various exchanges, is almost literally in his hands.

I do not see how this can be correct. He may have substantial holdings, but not the lion's share - enough to manipulate or affect the markets, but not to completely control them. He is no longer involved in development. Barring some incredibly clever backdoor hidden not just in the reference client but in the actual protocol, I think this is untrue.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 3:55 PM on March 6


winklevosses' email address

They're on Twitter.
If they were interested, they could also trivially hire someone to contact Satoshi as well, since obviously they know where he lives... I don't think this is anywhere near as impossible as you're implying.

But I do agree with others there is absolutely no guarantee he still has those Bitcoins.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:58 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


He may have substantial holdings, but not the lion's share

I'm referring to Bitcoin and the exchanges being the lion's share of cryptocurrency, not Satoshi's holdings.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:04 PM on March 6


Heh... "If you build it, we will find you." Shouldn't be hard for them if they want his BTC given this article.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:07 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Public interest aside, the idea that your privacy is violated by a reporter asking you questions about a public, noteworthy scientific paper that you published under your own name is ridiculous.
posted by tavella at 4:17 PM on March 6 [7 favorites]


feloniousmonk: "Really? The deputy knew the creator of Bitcoin by name?"

Well, just think about this thread. What percentage of the folks who know Satoshi by name, in this thread, do you think work in "I-would-know-the-creator-of-Bitcoin-by-name" jobs? A few economists, a few crypto coders, etc. And the rest of us? Translators, librarians, musicians, railroad engineers, physicists...
posted by Bugbread at 4:18 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


tavella: "Public interest aside, the idea that your privacy is violated by a reporter asking you questions about a public, noteworthy scientific paper that you published under your own name is ridiculous."

There's a difference between "asking questions" and "posting photographs of your house, with address visible, and car, with license plate visible". Not saying the reporter shouldn't have reported on him, but don't mischaracterize peoples' opposition to the article as being because she was "asking questions about a paper".
posted by Bugbread at 4:20 PM on March 6 [13 favorites]


Public interest aside, the idea that your privacy is violated by a reporter asking you questions about a public, noteworthy scientific paper that you published under your own name is ridiculous.

Um, except it's not the same person. Read the article again with a more critical eye, considering that notable evidence of identity included putting two spaces after a period when communicating on a computer. And now this poor guy has a target on his back inviting kidnapping and torture in the hope of obtaining untraceable millions of dollars.
posted by Mapes at 4:26 PM on March 6


Bitcoin ends with LA based journalists chasing Satoshi into a restaurant triggering a mass pie fight. I did not see that coming. We thought we were living Ina Neal Stephenson novel, but actually it is a Mel Brooks movie.
posted by humanfont at 4:28 PM on March 6 [11 favorites]




He's not involved with the project anymore. And probably deleted all his coins years ago.

You really don't see how the creator and early coordinator of one of the most interesting tech developments of the last decade is of public interest?

Sorry, this is silly. The reporter may have gone too far in revealing personal information, but it's beyond question Nakamoto is of public interest, whether he likes it or not, and that doesn't change if he's retired. Getting this guy's perspective on Bitcoin and the world in general would be fascinating.
posted by Sangermaine at 4:50 PM on March 6


Satoshi Nakamoto doesn't exist. We are all Satoshi Nakamoto. We collectively created bitcoin with our minds. And we can destroy it with our minds too.
posted by naju at 4:51 PM on March 6


*professor X forehead touch*
posted by The Whelk at 4:55 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Currency has value because people agree that it has value, right? And MeFi largely agrees that BitCoin has no value. Therefore, we have destroyed it with our minds. We have created a BitCoin black hole, and any Bitcoins saved to the MeFi servers instantly disappear, taking with them any traces that they ever did exist. This explains the strange gaps in the BitCoin blockchain.
posted by Bugbread at 5:03 PM on March 6 [4 favorites]


winklevosses' email address

If this were a novel, he would just transfer a couple thousand BTC to one of the Winklevii's addresses (or even just a null address) with the message, "Call me. -Satoshi"

Sure, he could transfer like 0.001 BTC but why not? He's got bitcoin to burn!

Bitcoin are a bit like bearer bonds, but even easier to steal. What do you do when you wake up tomorrow and realize everyone knows about your $400m in bearer bonds stuffed in the mattress? Hopefully they're actually on a USB key in a safe deposit box somewhere.

it's beyond question Nakamoto is of public interest, whether he likes it or not, and that doesn't change if he's retired.

It's sort of like if Steve Jobs founded Apple and then disappeared.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:10 PM on March 6


It's sort of like if Steve Jobs founded Apple and then disappeared

And then a Newsweek reporter found some guy named Steve Jobs and jumped to the conclusion that this was the same Steve Jobs who founded Apple after stalking the guy for a month. Editors then approved and ran the story based on evidence such as the use of double space after a period. The editor who approved this should be fired. There are no facts here to support the claim.
posted by humanfont at 5:34 PM on March 6


All (not-)Satoshi has to say is "I lost them all to transaction malleability, sorry."

Who's not going to believe him at this point?
posted by spitbull at 5:40 PM on March 6


But evangelists have been telling us transaction malleability isn't a problem anymore, and isn't something to be concerned about with Bitcoin.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:43 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Weeeeelll, if the quotes are accurate, not precisely no evidence.

"I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection."

is not exactly a denial, and in fact a rather strange thing to say if he wasn't involved at all. If he genuinely had never heard of Bitcoin, you'd expect "What are you talking about?" Sure, the reporter could have made shit up, but this was supposedly in the presence of two cops as witnesses.

So I'll wait to see how it shakes out.
posted by tavella at 5:47 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]




I apologize for my premature confirmation. To be fair I put more work into it than Newsweek did.
posted by codacorolla at 6:23 PM on March 6


tavella: "I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection." is not exactly a denial, and in fact a rather strange thing to say if he wasn't involved at all.

Or perhaps it's just out-of-context quoting. Dorian could have very well been referring to his previous government work, not bitcoin.

Sure, the reporter could have made shit up, but this was supposedly in the presence of two cops as witnesses.

Reporters don't need to make shit up to get desirable quotes. They just need to ask the right ambiguous questions.
posted by PsychoKick at 6:31 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Either the guy is the creator of BitCoin, or he didn't actually say "I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection." Either he's lying, or the Newsweek journalist lied.
posted by Bugbread at 6:32 PM on March 6


Currency has value because people agree that it has value, right?

Well, there's the alternative point of view that currency has value because sovereign powers expect you to pay your taxes using it, but don't tell the Dunning-Krugerites about that.
posted by Jimbob at 6:35 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Alleged message from Satoshi claiming he's not the person in the article

I'd say it's pretty likely that's actually from Satoshi, but while I was momentarily impressed, I'm now wondering if there'd be any reason to believe a message like that. It's certainly a pretty handy way to get everyone off of your back.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 6:44 PM on March 6


Well, there's the alternative point of view that currency has value because sovereign powers expect you to pay your taxes using it, but don't tell the Dunning-Krugerites about that.

Promissory notes are considered valuable, whether or not you can pay your taxes with them. Private currencies have a pretty long history- whether they're a good idea or not is another question, of course.


Twist: Dorian Nakamoto was involved in creating Bitcoin, but is not Satoshi Nakamoto- Satoshi is just the public face of the duo or group of creators. I mean, there presumably was a first Dread Pirate Roberts named Roberts. Dorian was the first one. The current Satoshi Nakamoto is someone else entirely.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:45 PM on March 6 [4 favorites]


So this is the guy who is Satoshi because all the other Satoshis got the seats when the music stopped playing?
posted by localroger at 6:47 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Either the guy is the creator of BitCoin, or he didn't actually say "I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection." Either he's lying, or the Newsweek journalist lied.

Except that you're assuming that the word "that" in that quote can only refer to Bitcoin.

A guy whose family claims is very secretive and wants privacy and anonymity and who uses pseudonyms on his other internet accounts decides to use his real name on a cryptocurrency forum? He might be the "real" Satoshi but the article does not provide any evidence for it.

What the article does provide is his name, his wives' names, all of his children's names, his work history, his children's work history, the type of car he drives, the fact that he lives with his mother, his mother's age, etc.
posted by I-baLL at 7:08 PM on March 6


> The editor who approved this should be fired.

I'm thinking that's right but it's not going to happen. This is the number two story behind Crimea/Ukraine/Russia on google news right now.
posted by bukvich at 7:10 PM on March 6


BungaDunga wrote: Twist: Dorian Nakamoto was involved in creating Bitcoin, but is not Satoshi Nakamoto- Satoshi is just the public face of the duo or group of creators. I mean, there presumably was a first Dread Pirate Roberts named Roberts. Dorian was the first one. The current Satoshi Nakamoto is someone else entirely.

This is doubly hilarious given that the pseudonym of the proprietor of Silk Road is/was Dread Pirate Roberts (a/k/a DPR). Busted by the feds, alleged to be Ross William Ulbricht.

I'd buy the "passing the torch" thing (ala the "original" Dread Pirate Roberts), but Satoshi -- the "real" one -- has been quiet. The "turned over to other people" quote from Dorian accurately describes Satoshi's role vis a vis Bitcoin these days, I thought.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 7:23 PM on March 6


I-baLL: "Except that you're assuming that the word "that" in that quote can only refer to Bitcoin."

Ah, oh, yeah. Hadn't even thought of that.
posted by Bugbread at 7:26 PM on March 6


Every discussion of Bitcoin leaves me feeling like I'm listening to a detailed account of someone's more tedious masturbation practices.
posted by latkes at 7:27 PM on March 6 [10 favorites]


If the guy is old and getting dementia, then he may not have been clear on what bitcoin is, and probably doesn't remember all the different things he worked on for the government. A reporter asks him about some secret project, he assumes it was some government thing and says that he passed it on to other people.
posted by empath at 7:28 PM on March 6


This is he or isn't he is maddening. How could anyone publish this story if they weren't 95% sure?
posted by ob1quixote at 7:35 PM on March 6


Lot of trolling going on right now. Via Hacker News, someone signed Satoshi's public key with the date April 1, 2013 (apparently a fake with a forged timestamp via setting one's system clock back).

The AP article was updated with more details about Dorian's denial, in which he claims his statement was related to past engineering projects and NDAs.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:51 PM on March 6


I downloaded the initial Bitcoin whitepaper and a number of writing samples collected by reddit of the individual identified by Newsweek. I also downloaded a number of articles by the author of the Newsweek article. According to my analysis the writings if the Newsweek reporter are much closer to the writing style of the Bitcoin whitepaper than the individual identified by Newsweek.
posted by humanfont at 7:54 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


humanfont: "According to my analysis the writings if the Newsweek reporter are much closer to the writing style of the Bitcoin whitepaper than the individual identified by Newsweek."

Classic tactic, really. Instead of hiding, come out boldly as the person who finds the person who is in hiding.

Also, little known facts: The maiden name of Leah McGrath Goodman, the Newsweek author, was "Leah McGrath Soze". In high school, as president of the German club, her authoritarian style got her nicknamed "Kaiser".
posted by Bugbread at 8:06 PM on March 6 [6 favorites]


What a weird story.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:06 PM on March 6


BungaDunga: "It's sort of like if Steve Jobs founded Apple and then disappeared."

Metafilter's own The Woz would probably be able to confirm or deny his Apple co-founder's identity.
posted by Mitheral at 8:28 PM on March 6






Every discussion of Bitcoin leaves me feeling like I'm listening to a detailed account of someone's more tedious masturbation practices.

Well I don’t enjoy them, so we’ll just have to disagree.
posted by bongo_x at 9:43 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


I'm still baffled by the kidnapping angle. A kidnapping would require an exchange of cash at some point: US dollars pulled out of bank, or Bitcoins pulled off of a hard drive. What difference does it make? Having your funds secured in a bank doesn't somehow immunize you to kidnapping. There are other reasons why people don't get kidnapped regularly in Southern California, and the type of currency involved is not one of them.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:45 PM on March 6


Satoshi Nakamoto's p2pfoundation account just came alive for the first time in 4 years to say, “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.”
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:50 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Golden Eternity: “Satoshi Nakamoto's p2pfoundation account just came alive for the first time in 4 years to say, “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.”
I want to make sure I understand what that means. Does that translate to, "Bitcoin Dude's p2pfoundation account just came alive for the first time in 4 years to say, 'I am not Magazine Dude.'"?
posted by ob1quixote at 12:48 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


that is how i read it, fwiw.
posted by mwhybark at 1:06 AM on March 7


Doesn't mean much, though. If magazine dude were saying "I'm the guy who made BitCoin", and Satoshi's official account said "That's not me", that would be something. But magazine dude is saying "It's not me", and official account is saying "It's not me". So if magazine dude is "the" Satoshi, then he's denying it, and he's going online to deny it as well. And if magazine dude isn't Satoshi, then he's denying it, and the real Satoshi is going online to deny it as well. Either way, the outcome is the same, so it doesn't tell us anything.
posted by Bugbread at 1:25 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


How common are the names "Satoshi" and "Nakamoto" in Japan? Are they like "John" and "Smith", or more like "Benedict" and "Cumberbatch"?
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:09 AM on March 7


Neither extreme. More like "Jacob Thompson" or "Angela Phillips".
posted by Bugbread at 3:20 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


Ok, maybe a bit more rare than that, but definitely not Cumberbarrel rare.
posted by Bugbread at 3:23 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


The longer version of the AP article gives a lot more details. It is as I-ball suggests above: Dorian did say those sorts of words, but he was referring to his government contracting work, not Bitcoin:
He also said a key portion of the piece - where he is quoted telling the reporter on his doorstep before two police officers, "I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it" - was misunderstood.

"I'm saying I'm no longer in engineering. That's it," he said of the exchange. "And even if I was, when we get hired, you have to sign this document, contract saying you will not reveal anything we divulge during and after employment. So that's what I implied."

"It sounded like I was involved before with bitcoin and looked like I'm not involved now. That's not what I meant. I want to clarify that," he said.

Newsweek writer Leah McGrath Goodman, who spent two months researching the story, told the AP: "I stand completely by my exchange with Mr. Nakamoto. There was no confusion whatsoever about the context of our conversation -and his acknowledgment of his involvement in bitcoin."
What with the writing style analysis, Dorian's denial, and the real Satoshi apparently popping up to clarify, I'd say this story is now a story about a disastrous Newsweek relaunch.
posted by memebake at 3:38 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Here's a better link to the 10-hours-ago apparently-real Satoshi forum post that got everyone excited.
posted by memebake at 3:43 AM on March 7


Wait, so the reporter showed up with two cops? Why?
posted by empath at 4:16 AM on March 7


In other Bitcoin news, someone just moved 180k coins that used to belong to gox.
posted by empath at 4:20 AM on March 7


It actually looks like Gox might have recovered their cold wallet private key and are getting ready to start allowing withdrawals again.
posted by empath at 4:22 AM on March 7


Am i the only one who's really, really weirded out that this is a newsweek article?

Not because it's about bitcoin, or an expose on the guy who created it, or anything. But because the entire thing reads like and is presented like some shitty ass extra long gawker blog post.

the weird stalkery photos, the presentation, the fake ass seeming conversations. It all seriously seems like something ye-olde 5 grand for a stolen iphone crew would have put together.

It's just INCREDIBLY unprofessional seeming, with a nice thick slathering of skeevy frosting.

i mean newsweek was never some super highbrow thing, but i remember it being a fairly respectable outlet in the late 90s/early 2000s when i'd occasionally pick it up just for something to read when i couldn't dial in to the ISP or whatever and didn't want to fire up my PS2 and it was pouring rain outside.

Like this,

What the article does provide is his name, his wives' names, all of his children's names, his work history, his children's work history, the type of car he drives, the fact that he lives with his mother, his mother's age, etc.

This is seriously so weird to me, even under the guise of it being some fluff piece like a profile on zuckerberg, that it really makes me wonder if this guy is a fucking plant being set up to get taken down on some kind of like, tax evasion charges or something to set an "example" for the crypto guys.

I mean, yea, that's deep into internet lolbertarian fedora reddit fantasy land... but seriously, this is one of the most bizarre articles i've ever seen come out of a real news agency. It wasn't until i actually loaded it up on newsweeks site that i realized it wasn't just from some blog, since i had been seeing discussion about it all day.

I don't get it.
posted by emptythought at 4:36 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


this is one of the most bizarre articles i've ever seen come out of a real news agency. It wasn't until i actually loaded it up on newsweeks site that i realized it wasn't just from some blog

Ah, I think you've reached the heart of the matter. This is Newsweek we're talking about here, the former magazine sold by the Washington Post for a dollar and merged with the Daily Beast by the folks that run OKCupid to give DB some journalistic street cred, and then dumped off again onto International Business Times who are trying every trick in their internet startup bag of tricks to make it relevent again.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:55 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Wait, so the reporter showed up with two cops? Why?

The cops turned up because Dorian Nakamoto called them - Goodman says the police make clear that their conversation is over, which I assume means they ask her to move along because she's trespassing.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:06 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Could this be the real Satoshi Nakamoto? My sources say: Huh?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:18 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Random thought. If Satoshi Nakamoto turned out to be a MetaFilter mod, it would be the greatest day in online history.
posted by Wordshore at 5:27 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


If Satoshi Nakamoto is a MeFi mod then we'd better be seein' some gold plated ponies up in here!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:58 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Apologies if I missed this posted upthread but this new DorianSatoshi twitter account -- which some speculate is a spoof account run by the real inventor of Bitcoin -- is highly entertaining.
posted by KatlaDragon at 6:28 AM on March 7


You could call it speculating, or you could call it "one guy said so for shits and giggles but everybody's so eager to prove that they know something about this bitcoin thing that bunches of other people are eagerly latching onto the idea."
posted by ardgedee at 6:31 AM on March 7


So - There IS still hope that it's Shinichi Mochizuki!

Mayhaps Ted Nelson, that wonderful crank, has gotten it right after all!
posted by symbioid at 6:42 AM on March 7


It actually looks like Gox might have recovered their cold wallet private key and are getting ready to start allowing withdrawals again.

Is that what those transfers mean? A lot of the redditors seem to think it's somehow proof Karpeles is the goxthief the while everyone's distracted by the Satoshi story. But I can never tell the paranoia from the analysis on r/bitcoin.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:46 AM on March 7


>>>>>the identity of the Bitcoin creator is a matter of public interest

>>>>Why?

>>>Because any bitcoin-enabled criminal could be the creator if the creator is unknown.

>>So what?

>So it's a public interest.

Nelson and Brian B. appear to be talking past ymgve and spacewrench. I think it's because of incompatible understandings of the concept of "public interest".

At a guess I'd say, according to Nelson and Brian B., information of public interest is that which the public finds interesting; where ymgve and spacewrench think that information of public interest is that information which the public has some particular need to know, as if Nakamoto were a criminal of the kind who is likely to reoffend, or a Government Spook.

I tend to favor the latter interpretation because the former elevates, say, paparazzi to the level of journalists. I'm not fond of paparazzi, but clearly a lot of people are.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:57 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Nelson and Brian B. appear to be talking past ymgve and spacewrench. I think it's because of incompatible understandings of the concept of "public interest".

I didn't talk past them very far because its obvious. To revisit, there is a public argument to know the creator from the abusers when the public is prosecuting the latter. It actually helps all sides. Having said that, this guy, IF he is the creator, is probably protecting his assets from civil lawsuits, which is another public interest, almost by definition. Either way, I don't think this guy acted alone in the early beginning, considering the Nick Szabo thing.
posted by Brian B. at 7:13 AM on March 7


"Public interest" is a specific term of journalistic art. I'm not a journalist myself so am a bit fuzzy on the best source for defining it, but this BBC discussion is helpful. I believe that the identity of Bitcoin's creator is of public interest in particular because it is "information that assists people to better comprehend or make decisions on matters of public importance." In particular, whether Bitcoin is a good and secure thing.

Note I'm explicitly rejecting spacewrench's argument that it's sufficient that "you can see how Bitcoin works for yourself". I think in this case you can't separate the art from the artist. The core technical ideas of Bitcoin are quite complex and novel and while I probably should trust that the community has long since reviewed and rewritten all the original work, I'd still feel better knowing the technical origins. Also Bitcoin is fundamentally a political act and I'd like to know the politics of its creator(s).

Having had a whole 24 hours to reflect on the Newsweek article, I think it went too far in a sensationalist direction. There was no public interest in publishing the guy's exact location. The whole article does feel stalkery. And the worst journalistic failing, she failed to get her story. There's really no solid evidence. It's a plausible story, but it's not complete, and I suspect that article would be rejected by a more established newspaper or news magazine.

It's amazing how effective Dorian's stunt with the free lunch has been in deflating the story. I hope he got a good night's sleep, free from the noise of hovering helicopters.
posted by Nelson at 8:06 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why so many bitcoin enthusiasts (bitheads? bitnuts? bitophiles? bitvocates? bitscouts?) think that P2P foundation messageboard posting immediately 100% proves anything. It could be written by Dorian, it could be written by some other guy who may or may not know Dorian, it could have been written by some troll, it could have been written by some automatic program or other newfangled doodad.
posted by Bwithh at 8:33 AM on March 7


Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoti reconnects with P2P Foundation after five years (sic). If it's not a hoax, then someone with the account name "Satoshi Nakamoto" who posted about Bitcoin very early in February 2009 just told everyone that he is not Dorian Nakamoto. My feeling is it's 99% likely the 2009 post is from the real Bitcoin creator. It's still possible yesterday's post was some sort of hack or hoax, this blog post is only mild confirmation. And of course a denial like this could just as easily be a lie that confirms that Dorian really is the Bitcoin creator. Wheels within wheels!

It's hard for me to believe that after years of radio silence the Bitcoin creator would choose to come back in the form of a post to Ning, of all things. The real Satoshi has a variety of cryptographic means by which to provide his identity; unless he burned all his private keys I'd expect him to use one.
posted by Nelson at 8:36 AM on March 7


I don't understand why so many bitcoin enthusiasts think that P2P foundation messageboard posting immediately 100% proves anything.

When bitcoin was launched/proposed in 2009, the original Satoshi posted messages about it in various places asking for collaborators etc. On the P2P Foundation board he used a certain account in 2009 that has lain dormant since. Yesterday, it got used again. So it is quite significant. Either its the same person who did the original 2009 announcement, or it is someone who has managed to steal some of Satoshi's old accounts.
posted by memebake at 8:42 AM on March 7


And no-one has heard anything from any of Satoshi's known accounts since about 2011, so its significant just for that.
posted by memebake at 8:51 AM on March 7


The Satoshi Paradox: Reuters opinion piece that concludes "But Newsweek didn’t want a theory, it wanted a scoop. And so, faced with what was ultimately only circumstantial evidence, it went ahead and claimed that it had uncovered Satoshi". It's pretty thoughtful.
posted by Nelson at 8:52 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


"The real Satoshi has a variety of cryptographic means by which to provide his identity; unless he burned all his private keys I'd expect him to use one."

But if the message is "Dorian is not me," that could still be a lie.
posted by CrayDrygu at 8:53 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


In particular, whether Bitcoin is a good and secure thing.

Since Bitcoin is open source and decentralized, whether it is a good and secure thing can be evaluated on Bitcoin's own merits without bothering with identifying the creator at all.
posted by ymgve at 8:55 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]




Founder of Blockchain fundraising to support Dorian after this harassment and hassle...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:44 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


save alive nothing that breatheth: Founder of Blockchain fundraising to support Dorian after this harassment and hassle...

Wow, as of this writing it's already at ~14 coins (progress here).
posted by PsychoKick at 10:58 AM on March 7


Correction Andreas is not founder it looks like, just bigshot.

Newsweek stands by article: http://www.newsweek.com/newsweeks-statement-bitcoin-story-231242
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:59 AM on March 7


NY magazine: The Hijacking of Satoshi Nakamoto

It's a good piece that hints at some decent questions about religious-style fanaticism of Bitcoin proponents, and how the mystery behind Nakamoto's identity plays into the mythology.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:20 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Since Bitcoin is open source and decentralized, whether it is a good and secure thing can be evaluated on Bitcoin's own merits without bothering with identifying the creator at all.

The number of people fully equipped to make an informed judgement about the Bitcoin protocol and its mathematical underpinnings is as close to zero as makes no difference. Open source isn't magic, and the GPL isn't pixie dust; see the very exciting recent GnuTLS bugs for evidence.

It makes for a pithy slogan, but there's zero evidence that many eyes make bug shallow. The opposite is true: software auditing, particularly around crypto, suffers from a very serious case of bystander effect.

So we use these side-channels - who does he work for? - as a substitute for an in-depth audit, mostly because we have to. Tell me, do you feel comfortable running SELinux, knowing where it comes from?
posted by mhoye at 11:28 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I think developments such as the recent GnuTLS bug ought to give pause to the "given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow" notion, especially as it applies to security. It's an idea which may apply to certain kinds of software, but the complexity factor is just too high with crypto.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:57 AM on March 7


I still think that the bugs you know are there are shallower in the narrow sense that anyone is permitted to solve the bug and share the fix, unlike with non-Free software. Your point about whether subtle bugs are noticed substantially earlier is well taken, though.

I wonder whether the GnuTLS bug was found by testing or by inspection. If by inspection, then the "shallow" quip might still apply, just "not shallow enough".
posted by jepler at 12:06 PM on March 7


@DorianSatoshi is hilarious.

@samrzrkat @pmarca I die a little inside when I don't have room to double space in a tweet.

Moving stuff out of cold storage. Specifically my leftovers from Olive Garden. Cold storage is what I call my refrigerator.

I will deny that I'm Keyser Söze for some crab rangoon and two surprise rolls. #SatoshiNotSatoshi

posted by Golden Eternity at 12:11 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


That's a really tough bug to catch via static analysis because it's not really incorrect behavior in the sense that a buffer overflow or something like that might be. It's a very context-specific usage mistake. It was found by a security researcher at Red Hat.

It's worth emphasizing that this bug is almost a decade old.

Having these pieces of the stack as OSS is definitely a win, don't get me wrong, but there are serious problems with the OSS software that we have. In addition to the issues with GnuTLS, OpenSSL is in a sorry state as well.
posted by feloniousmonk at 12:15 PM on March 7


One problem with crypto-type code is that the question is not whether a bug will be found, but what the person who finds it will choose to do once they find it.
posted by aubilenon at 2:25 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Slate helps you find out if you invented Bitcoin
posted by achrise at 3:17 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]


I think developments such as the recent GnuTLS bug ought to give pause to the "given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow" notion, especially as it applies to security.

To be clear, you are arguing that, therefore, the identity of the one who wrote the specification for BitCoin is useful information in evaluating how secure it is?
posted by LogicalDash at 3:46 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]




No, I'm not making that argument. The creator's identity is not hugely relevant (let's be honest, if it turns out to be a famous cryptographer, that'd matter) to whether I'd feel secure using it but neither is the notion that "all bugs are shallow."
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:02 PM on March 7


Bitcoin was pretty much worthless for its first few years, during which it attracted a lot of attention in certain circles because it was a new and unusual application of existing principles. A lot of the people who looked at it in those days had sharp eyes and nothing to gain by holding flaws they found close to the vest. I think it's a pretty safe bet that Bitcoin itself -- the blockchain and common wallet exchang software -- is pretty solid. The problems have arisen from side applications like Mt Gox's homespun thingy that aren't as public.
posted by localroger at 5:29 PM on March 7


Bitcoin was pretty much worthless for its first few years, during which it attracted a lot of attention in certain circles because it was a new and unusual application of existing principles.

As I say to technical people who are equipped to understand the CS/math mechanics of bitcoin, "It's so goddamn simple and straightforward it took an anonymous genius to figure it out."

I think it would be hilariously appropriate if an instance of being aggressively wrong about bitcoin actually ends up substantially helping flush an oldmedia down the tubes...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:50 PM on March 7


(let's be honest, if it turns out to be a famous cryptographer, that'd matter)

Enh.

Perhaps if I'd never heard of BitCoin and it weren't popular and I were somehow in the market for cryptocurrencies anyway, then I would let the identity of the inventor influence whether I paid no attention, or some attention, to BitCoin. We are... past that point.

I don't really have the faintest idea who invented TLS, I think it was a committee deal. If I were aiming to be a crypto professional I suppose I'd want to have an inkling of the history; otherwise? I want to know what it's meant to do, and if it's got a reputation for doing it well and reliably.

If it's got the reputation.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:56 PM on March 7


The linchpin decision in the whole public interest thing is that of Sidis v. F-R Pub Corp wherein the former entity was a child prodigy who had become reclusive as an adult, and the latter news organization which did a "where are they now" feature on him without his consent. The final result was that the public's interest in a person who had been a celebrity outweighed the great lengths the individual had gone to to be private and unremarkable as an adult.

Considering the ongoing furore over Bitcoin and the possibility that its creator has the Bitcoin Hope Diamond stashed somewhere, it seems like a good bet that Newsweek could prevail on the public interest thing. It doesn't really matter whether his identity has an effect on the trustworthiness of the medium or other technical Bitcoin factors. He's just the kind of thing the public might take an interest in, so there.
posted by localroger at 6:11 PM on March 7


"The whole public interest thing" contains more concerns than the legal, IMO.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:38 PM on March 7


It has whole social/cultural interest things. If viral attention can strike Dorian, why couldn't it strike any one of us? What happens in this new, ubiquitous, super-public, digitally recorded social world? Where do we draw the lines?

Assuming we aren't being gamed. The Newsweek thing is hoaxalishish.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:52 PM on March 7


"The whole public interest thing" contains more concerns than the legal, IMO.

But when considering whether Newsweek has committed a crime or tort, it's the legal concerns that matter.

And all of the references are full of warnings that the existing law is contradictory and incomplete.
posted by localroger at 1:57 AM on March 8


Meanwhile, a CEO of bitcoin was found dead in Singapore yesterday. Says it was not foul play, but people who lose a fortune want to find someone to blame.

Autumn Radtke was found dead in the last week of February. The local Chinese press made the connection between suicide and Bitcoin a week back; the local English press reported it on Thursday.

Disclaimer: Know someone who knew Radtke. The missus did a story on this 10 days back. Don't know anything more.
posted by the cydonian at 5:25 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


>But when considering whether Newsweek has committed a crime or tort, it's the legal concerns that matter.

Is that what we're doing here? Nelson's comment, which started the back-and-forth I thought I was in, was about "ethical reporting".
posted by LogicalDash at 5:26 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Considering the ongoing furore over Bitcoin and the possibility that its creator has the Bitcoin Hope Diamond stashed somewhere, it seems like a good bet that Newsweek could prevail on the public interest thing.

But what about when there is a case of mistaken identity as could be the situation here? I did a quick google (not the best legal search tool I know) but didn't find any case law on point.
posted by exogenous at 6:09 AM on March 8


But what about when there is a case of mistaken identity as could be the situation here?

Oh if they fingered the wrong guy they have a huge tort liability to undo the damage to his life, as much as possible. And the standard is not proof but preponderance of evidence, which makes life even more interesting. They might be renaming their rag NakamotoWeek after the judgement.
posted by localroger at 7:56 AM on March 8


Meanwhile, a CEO of bitcoin

Radtke was not "a CEO of Bitcoin." There is no "CEO of Bitcoin." She was the CEO of a small startup virtual trading platform that, as I recall, wasn't even trading in BTC (yet). First Meta emerged as a way to create virtual credit in Second Life, or something of the sort.

So sneetches' statement above ("a CEO of BTC was found dead") is false. She was a minor player in BTC circles. And it looks a lot like she committed suicide because she was depressed, from all accounts. It does happen.
posted by spitbull at 8:32 AM on March 8


I also wonder whether the Newsweek reporter's "social hacking, er, engineering" of the model train company to get Satoshi's email address, which was disgusting, was also illegal. I seem to recall such tactics falling under computer crime and identity theft laws in the US, at least.
posted by spitbull at 8:34 AM on March 8


They might be renaming their rag NakamotoWeek after the judgement.

If I was on the jury, I would note that he called the witnesses himself to his house, who confirm his admission. I would note that he volunteered to reporters that his son tipped him off to the original reporter asking about bitcoin specifically, also wondering why he didn't learn the connection to his name at that point. I would also wonder why he didn't open the door to her on his doorstep and dodged her instead. I would note that he suddenly broke off the interview after issuing his non-denial when the subject was raised. I assume that plenty of others would also see it as his mistake to undo.
posted by Brian B. at 8:37 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Brian B., it would also depend very heavily on how much actual damage is done. Losing his rights of privacy by being made a public person is itself a tort, but some would say not a very big one. On the other hand, if very bad people decide he can be shaken down for a mllion Btc, NewsWeek could be culpable for painting the target on him. It's not a slam dunk either way, and much would depend both on what happens next and how the lawyering goes.
posted by localroger at 8:43 AM on March 8



One Does Not Simply Find Satoshi Nakamoto
Nermin Hajdarbegovic | Published on March 7, 2014 at 15:04 GMT | Analysis, Events, News, Technology
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:22 AM on March 8


It's not a slam dunk either way, and much would depend both on what happens next and how the lawyering goes.

I think some people will wonder if Mr. Genius is as dumb as he claims. As more things go wrong (block-chain control issues, quantum computing thefts, etc) people might think that a shadowy someone may have invented a way to make lots of money on the ground floor, pyramid-style, and then disappear. It was easier to mine in the beginning and that pyramid, deliberate or not, was aided by the constant promotion of the idea that avoiding a centralized transfer function was the main goal, as a correction to central failure. This is misleading when considering that it easily allowed theft from a computer, or loss from the malfunction of a storage drive. That rhetoric also served as a subtle anti-tax message, with money-laundering functions too, which can be seen as another scam, and which traditionally serves as a way of inducing participation.
posted by Brian B. at 10:39 AM on March 8


I think some people will wonder if Mr. Genius is as dumb as he claims.

LOL. Is this why bitcoiners find Dorian so distasteful? They were expecting a Galtian Übermensch living on his own private island with his sex slaves breading the next generation of superhumans.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:29 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


breading
posted by every_one_needs_a_hug_sometimes at 1:29 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


He does seem to fit the bitcoiner profile though. Libertarian, but still lived off government money, still lives in his mothers house, ect...
posted by Iax at 1:31 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


Ouch
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:32 PM on March 8


I have to share the best BTC joke I've heard yet, I think I saw it on /r/Buttcoin

"How many bitcoin geeks does it take to screw in a HOLY SHIT SOMEONE STOLE ALL THE LIGHTBULBS!"
posted by spitbull at 1:38 PM on March 8 [8 favorites]




Man, breaded superhumans are, like, the tastiest of all the human meats!
posted by five fresh fish at 2:07 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


I'm sure there was an episode of Hannibal featuring breaded superhuman treats.
posted by localroger at 2:31 PM on March 8


That David Seaman piece is excellent, homunculus. Thanks. It gets at what is more objectionable than the simple outing/doxing of Nakamoto, assuming he is The Satoshi We've Been Waiting For.

It's the disrespect, the tabloidy chase narrative, the look of a gossip rag chasing a Kardashian. What makes this man a figure of public interest is a brilliant invention, even if it's being currently put to childish and perverse uses and attracting corruption. The article doesn't explain the idea that inspired so many people, or show any respect for Nakomoto as a scientist. He is just a weird recluse nerd.

I'd think a real journalist would make the positive case to their subject and attempt to fairly assess his contributions as a reason for pursuing his identity. Satoshi may be an old crank, but if he invented distributed open source cryptocurrency, as a concept and a technology, he is also very seriously smart and deserves honor and respect, not this shoddy crap.

I wonder if Ars Technica could get him to sit down for a real conversation, just about the protocol.
posted by spitbull at 2:37 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


Also, lightly breaded, please.
posted by spitbull at 2:39 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


It was easier to mine in the beginning and that pyramid, deliberate or not, was aided by the constant promotion of the idea that avoiding a centralized transfer function was the main goal, as a correction to central failure.

One of the articles someone linked above goes into some detail on the real Satoshi's perspective from when he was posting, and says that he very clearly never saw Bitcoin as a world-changing substitute for national currencies but rather as a more convenient and universal medium of exchange, sort of like a better distributed non-private PayPal. It was when the rhetoric about replacing the dollar and all started to ramp up that Satoshi bowed out.

It may be that Satoshi reserved himself a fat chunk of bitcoins with the idea of cashing in for things on a relativley modest scale; as long as the wallet codes haven't been burned somebody has such a chunk, it's right there in the blockchain. But Satoshi probably never dreamed the Bitcoin exchange rate would get so high, and his stash would be in the much more difficult to leverage range appropriate for buying fuck-you yachts and private islands. Even if there weren't so many practical difficulties trying to do anything with such a huge early wallet, the scale of it is now kind of embarrassing and for him to start crediting against those wallets at all would leave a very bad impression both of him and Bitcoin itself.
posted by localroger at 2:41 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]




I have to take exception with something the author of homunculus' most recent link said:
revealing the identity of one of the most important technical thinkers since Tesla or Edison.
Assuming Bitcoin is the guy's only claim to fame, that's some serious exaggeration. Don't get me wrong, it was a breakthrough idea that may well one day change the world, but Bitcoin itself is a pretty bad implementation of crypto-currency. It can't scale to any reasonable size.

It is remarkable for both what it represents the beginning of and the social phenomenon it has become, but technically it's not up to the challenge of being the sole currency of a small city, much less a whole country or the entire world. Bitcoin is like one of Edison's early bulbs that burned out after a couple of days. Unfortunately, Satoshi decided that was a good enough place to quit.
posted by wierdo at 3:28 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Bitcoin is like one of Edison's early bulbs that burned out after a couple of days. Unfortunately, Satoshi decided that was a good enough place to quit.

I agree that it's hyperbolic to a ridiculous extent to compare Satoshi to either Tesla or Edison, but my reason is a little different.

Edison and Tesla, like the rabid libertarian Bitcoin promotors, wanted to change the world. Satoshi never saw Bitcoin as a world-changing force and ducked out of the conversation when it became dominated by those arguments.

It's more like, Satoshi developed an early LED that wasn't very bright or efficient or colorful but did last forever, making it very good for displays and readouts, and he thought that was a good deal. When people started pestering him for LED's that could be used as room lighting he ducked out because knowing the inherent limitations of the tech he thought that was ridiculous. Years later we are using LED's for room lighting but only because of further invention that pushed the tech far beyond its early days with entirely different chemistry.

It seems that the Real Satoshi only ever saw Bitcoin as greasing the rails for modest transactions. I've sold a couple of items to fellow hobbyists in northern Europe and collecting USD$100 from someone in Norway is a pain in the ass all the way around. With Bitcoin, you just point and click and it's done. If Dorian is the real Satoshi then he probably never saw his private stash at the base of the blockchain as anything but a ticket into a really fine model train setup. Now it's all blown up into something huge and, to a person like that, embarrassing.
posted by localroger at 4:31 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


There's no way Dorian is the real Satoshi.

He tried to deny it to the Newsweek reporter, she (perhaps willfully) got the wrong end of the stick and took it as a tacit admission, then rapidly changed into 'publish' gear. The story explodes, the first decent opportunity Dorian gets he tries to set the record straight.

Couple that with the abundant evidence that Dorian's writing style is nothing like the real Satoshi's.

The only way you could try and bend the story so that Dorian is the real Satoshi is to paint him as playing a big public game of 'oh yes I am, oh no I'm not', but why would anyone as secretive as Satoshi want to do that.

Newsweek were wrong and since that AP interview they know it, they're just trying to climb down now with the least damage possible.

Members of Dorians family appear to be talking to the folks at reddit, could be hoax but could be legit.
I am affiliated with the media's Nakamoto family.
Arthur Nakamoto: My brother, Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto...

They are raising money* for Dorian on r/bitcoin to buy him some model trains. Or possibly a real train. Currently at 40BTC

* = although you have to be skeptical of 'raising money' for someone in such an environment. Did that jamaican bobsled team ever get their Dogecoin?
posted by memebake at 5:12 PM on March 8


Good CNN video piece that features Dorian talking on camera to a reporter, and then an interview with a (to my eyes) very stressed looking Leah Goodman.

In the video Dorian says:
"I have nothing to do with bitcoin. I never worked for the company, I don't know any people there, I never had a contract there or anything like that. I wasn't even aware of the product."
That really speaks for itself, unless you reckon the real Satoshi also happens to be some fantastic olympic level trolling loki trickster.
posted by memebake at 5:17 PM on March 8


"I have nothing to do with bitcoin. I never worked for the company, I don't know any people there, I never had a contract there or anything like that. I wasn't even aware of the product."

This isn't in fact a denial of inventing bitcoin. He's stumbling across the concept itself like he's reframing the original encounter, and one could make the case that he's doing it poorly, depending on how ignorant one imagines him to really be. He could take a lie detector to help his case.
posted by Brian B. at 5:34 PM on March 8


Couple that with the abundant evidence that Dorian's writing style is nothing like the real Satoshi's.

Yeah, the writing evidence is pretty convincing. Unless he is the grpeatest troll of all time, it appears Dorian is not bitcoin Satoshi. But as someone said on reddit said, what a "bitcoincidence."
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:43 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


aside: to answer my own question: yes it seems the Dogecoin did reach the Jamaican bobsled team. Confirmation on the Crowdtilt page
posted by memebake at 5:50 PM on March 8


as someone said on reddit said, what a "bitcoincidence."

I thought that at first. But what's really the coincidence? That there's a guy whose name used to be Satoshi Nakomoto? That he's got some libertarian politics and used to do some classified technical work? That's all pretty minor. In retrospect, that Newsweek article really has no useful evidence at all. It's just masterfully written to make you think it has a case.
posted by Nelson at 6:04 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


People here keep mentioning that Dorian is Libertarian? Where does it say that?
posted by I-baLL at 6:10 PM on March 8


The fabulous article
A libertarian, Nakamoto encouraged his daughter to be independent, start her own business and "not be under the government's thumb," she says.
posted by Nelson at 6:23 PM on March 8


People here keep mentioning that Dorian is Libertarian? Where does it say that?

In the article, there's this bit:
A libertarian, Nakamoto encouraged his daughter to be independent, start her own business and "not be under the government's thumb," she says. "He was very wary of the government, taxes and people in charge."
There's a bit more from Dorian's daughter later on about him being wary of the government. But its not clear whether she ever used the word Libertarian or whether that was a label Newsweek introduced to help their case.

I mean, being wary of the government doesn't really make you a Libertarian. I'm wary of my government, but thats because they all went to Eton, not because I think government shouldn't exist.
posted by memebake at 6:28 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the writing evidence is pretty convincing. Unless he is the grpeatest troll of all time, it appears Dorian is not bitcoin Satoshi. But as someone said on reddit said, what a "bitcoincidence."

The original article discussed this.

In his correspondences and writings, it has widely been noted that Satoshi Nakamoto alternates between British and American spellings - and, depending on his audience, veers between highly abbreviated verbiage and a more formal, polished style. Grace Mitchell says her husband does the same.

Dorian S. Nakamoto's use of English, she says, was likely influenced by his lifelong interest in collecting model trains, many of which he imported from England as a teenager while he was still learning English.


And this:

"My brother is an asshole.... You're not going to be able to get to him. He'll deny everything. He'll never admit to starting Bitcoin."
posted by Brian B. at 8:21 PM on March 8


I mean, being wary of the government doesn't really make you a Libertarian. I'm wary of my government, but thats because they all went to Eton, not because I think government shouldn't exist.
posted by memebake at 6:28 PM on March 8 [1 favorite +] [!]



mmm, I dunno, I feel that this quote does come across as pretty libertarian. (I mean, maybe the government agencies want to give you universal healthcare but that doesn't seem to be the implication here):

"He is very wary of government interference in general," she says. "When I was little, there was a game we used to play. He would say, 'Pretend the government agencies are coming after you.' And I would hide in the closet."
posted by Bwithh at 8:54 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


The Arthur Nakamoto: My brother, Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto... reddit thread is fascinating. It seems fake to me, but who knows. He bashes Leah, but still never directly denies that his brother created bitcoin. This comment takes the cake:
It's sad that the delusional members of /r/bitcoin have whipped themselves into such a frenzy that they've managed to scare these poor people. I have bad news, but whether or not he is the creator of Bitcoin, the only people that are going to care about this at all by next week will be.. /r/bitcoin. Actually, "next week" was a dramatic overstatement of the facts, because the entire frenzy was centered on /r/bitcoin in the first place. The only reason the story existed at all was because you guys freaked out and wanted to get revenge on Newsweek for implicating that your anonymous God may just be some cranky old train collector. The story hasn't been about Dorian and his family since midmorning Thursday, it's been about following up on the crazy redditors who are claiming Newsweek made a mistake.

The hyperbole around here is intense, yelling about how some guy's LIFE WAS RUINED!!1! ZOGM@!!!1! because 9 reporters showed up to his house for a couple of hours 1 day and bought him lunch. The horrible indignity he must have felt will haunt him for the rest of his years, I'm sure. The crazy freakout around here (chartering a f'in plane for pete's sake?!) just goes to show the drastically self important religion you've created out of your pretend money is full of itself. It's like you think it's going to be a race between mercenary hit men working for Goldman Sachs, the CIA and a gang of 11 notorious international bank robbers lead by Danny Ocean himself to see who can torture and kill Mr. Nakamoto first. You should seriously get yourselves examined by professionals, those voices in your head are not real and your paranoia is likely due to a chemical imbalance.

But of course, that's the problem you all face, if the inventor of magic pretend internet money is found and no one really cares, then it shows how unimportant your pretend internet money really is! It doesn't matter how many billion trillion gazillion pretend dollars that bitcoinity.org says this man has, he's in no real danger. But hey, you totally got 9 reporters to give up almost 3 hours of their day, I mean that's practically a media circus! (lol)
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:41 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


Wait, where is that comment from and who said it?
posted by I-baLL at 3:48 AM on March 9


That comment misses the most important point about why outing Dorian was uncool.

The /r/bitcoiners may be mad as hatters. Bitcoin may be "magic pretend internet money" but there are a lot of people, perhaps mad as hatters but very real, who have plowed millions of real dollars into Bitcoin. Tulip bubbles aside, within the last few weeks millions of real dollars have been either stolen or lost by several major players.

So mad or not, there are a lot of people some of whom are not very nice who are very heavily invested in Bitcoin. The furore in r/bitcoin actually demonstrates the real problem. Publishing X random middle-class person's home address and vehicle license plate on a major news site as the mysterious and elusive bitcoin creator who everyone also thinks has a million bitcoin stash is like dangling a hamburger over a pack of hungry pit bulls.

The article was laid out like a giant treasure map with a big X on Dorian's house. Anyone with any sense had to know that was a bad idea precisely because of the number of crazy people obsessed with bitcoin.
posted by localroger at 5:47 AM on March 9


We are all Satoshis now.
posted by spitbull at 7:18 AM on March 9


Something's off about people continuing to insist that Dorian is likely Satoshi... being pushed by several in crypto and media I've already been keeping an eye on for ulterior motives.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:13 AM on March 9


The article was laid out like a giant treasure map with a big X on Dorian's house.

So, honeypot?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:35 AM on March 9


Wait, where is that comment from and who said it?

Link
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:05 AM on March 9


That's obviously a troll comment.

"The story hasn't been about Dorian and his family since midmorning Thursday, it's been about following up on the crazy redditors who are claiming Newsweek made a mistake."

and

"The hyperbole around here is intense, yelling about how some guy's LIFE WAS RUINED!!1! ZOGM@!!!1! because 9 reporters showed up to his house for a couple of hours 1 day and bought him lunch."
posted by I-baLL at 10:23 AM on March 9


crazy people obsessed with bitcoin.

So far he has unwanted fame and close to 50 BTC (if he wants them and the fund isn't a scam.) I'm more concerned about McGrath. She's going to need money for anti-depressents after ruining her career and making a mockery of Newsweek. "Cypherpunks" have taken a break from coding their assassination markets or whatever to dox her and tweet out all of her personal info. I would be surprised if she isn't harrassed more seriously.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:34 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


People are disgusting.
posted by Nelson at 11:00 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


I'm more concerned about McGrath. She's going to need money for anti-depressents after ruining her career and making a mockery of Newsweek.

We'll see how this plays out. Unless she got the story 100 percent wrong, it seems like McGrath's stock just increased a thousandfold. Even if she got the story wrong, that doesn't necessarily mean her career is over. Look at Judith Miller now.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 11:17 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


If my future was to be Judith Miller, I'd be seriously considering the shotgun mouthwash.

I think McGrath comes off very badly in that video that's currently below the Newsweek article. She's not "up on terms like doxing" and besides, everything she published is publicly available anyway? Well maybe if she was more up on her internet terms she'd know why that's not a defense. "Publicly available" doesn't mean "neatly gathered together in a neat package in a highly visible place for the convenience of would-be stalkers."
posted by localroger at 12:10 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


She looked the most haggard of anyone I've seen on a TV interview.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:45 PM on March 9


I think she has the flu. I really do. However she comes off quite strangely in a recent Bloomberg interview.
posted by I-baLL at 12:01 AM on March 10


"So far he has unwanted fame and close to 50 BTC (if he wants them and the fund isn't a scam.)"

That's not all he has. The article said that he has $400 million dollars in his house. So he basically has a "Rob me" target on his back.

Also:

"I'm more concerned about McGrath. She's going to need money for anti-depressents after ruining her career and making a mockery of Newsweek. "Cypherpunks" have taken a break from coding their assassination markets or whatever to dox her and tweet out all of her personal info. I would be surprised if she isn't harrassed more seriously."

While I'm worried about her as well I don't see a need for such a character attack on cypherpunks.

" taken a break from coding their assassination markets or whatever "

Seriously? You're basically equating advocating cryptography with murder?
posted by I-baLL at 12:35 AM on March 10




This morning, twobitidiot backed away from that threat.
posted by spitbull at 4:25 AM on March 10


Seriously? You're basically equating advocating cryptography with murder?

No, I was saying many self-proclaimed "cypherpunks" like the idea of assassination markets and actually create them. The dox-ing of McGrath also seems somewhat sadistic to me, to a much lesser degree obviously (not equal to). And the tweets I saw linking to her info were from "@cypherpunk something or other." I'm glad to see assassination market equated with mruder, though, as it should be. I get the sense that somehow advocates of them don't consider contributing to an assassination betting market to be murder.

Wikipedia:
Technologies like Tor and Bitcoin have enabled online assassination markets as described in parts one to nine of " Assassination Politics". One was created by a self-described "crypto-anarchist".[5] The first assassination market that adopted a Jim Bell protocol became available in autumn 2001.[citation needed] It remains a continuous project called ' APster' which is a name that was used quite often by various cypherpunks ( archives http://cypherpunks.venona.com/ )

Online Cincy Cop Threats Probed
In a telephone interview, "proffr" said he is trying to further the ideas of Jim Bell, author of the controversial Assassination Politics essay who was convicted in April of two counts of threatening federal officials.
Bitcoin-powered assassination market targets Obama, Bernanke, and others

Cypherpunk Guilty of Stalking
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:01 AM on March 10


Bwithh: "Meanwhile, back at the Bitcoin Foundation..."

Regardless of the veracity of the accusations, the author of that piece sounds more than a bit unhinged.
posted by wierdo at 8:55 AM on March 10


Golden Eternity: Maybe you should read up on who cypherpunks are before you say stuff like:

"many self-proclaimed "cypherpunks" like the idea of assassination markets and actually create them"

Many?

Here's as list of noteworthy cypherpunks:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cypherpunk#Noteworthy_cypherpunks

The reason why you can do online banking, have secure conversations, and not have your password sniffed in passing on the internet is because cypherpunks made it happen. I'm not sure why you feel that a few examples should give the whole a bad name. It's like calling doctos murderers because a few doctors are angels of death.
posted by I-baLL at 9:44 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Yeah the cypherpunks go back a long way, and are responsible for PGP and a whole bunch of other things that helped stop the internet from getting corporatized. Their manifesto is:
Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. ...

We cannot expect governments, corporations, or other large, faceless organizations to grant us privacy ...

We must defend our own privacy if we expect to have any. ...

Cypherpunks write code. We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and ... we're going to write it. ...
Jim Bell would seem to be an outlier among them. He does seem to be skating on rather thin ice.
posted by memebake at 10:09 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


The Cypherpunk Revolutionary
The most authoritative political voice among the majority libertarian cypherpunks was Tim May, who, in 1994, composed a vast, truly remarkable document, “Cyphernomicon”. May called his system crypto-anarchy. He regarded crypto-anarchy as the most original contribution to political ideology of contemporary times. May thought the state to be the source of evil in history. He envisaged the future as an Ayn Rand utopia of autonomous individuals dealing with each other as they pleased. Before this future arrived, he advocated tax avoidance, insider trading, money laundering, markets for information of all kinds, including military secrets, and what he called assassination markets not only for those who broke contracts or committed serious crime but also for state officials and the politicians he called “Congressrodents”. He recognised that in his future world only elites with control over technology would prosper. No doubt “the clueless 95%” – whom he described as “inner city breeders” and as “the unproductive, the halt and the lame” – “would suffer, but that is only just”.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:18 AM on March 10


Literally next sentence from your quote "May acknowledged that many cypherpunks would regard these ideas as extreme."
posted by memebake at 10:24 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Newsweek alleges Dorian is "Libertarian" and "obsessively private, a man of few words who screens his phone calls, anonymizes his emails and, for most of his life, has been preoccupied with the two things for which Bitcoin has now become known: money and secrecy."

Dorian Nakamoto attended a Temple City Council meeting on 4th March to suggest the council put extra stop signs around a dangerous intersection. Video (Nakamoto appears around 21min mark)

"My name is Dorian Nakamoto, and I've been in residence with Temple City since 1967. I love this city very much .... I'd like to thank all of you councilmembers for letting us hear what your plan is and letting us have time to voice our wishes and requests. My request today is to make the intersection of Longden and Encinita safe ... "

He goes on to politely express his concerns and some length and to ask the council to look into the matter. Are Libertarians always so polite when they ask the government for something?

Meanwhile Forbes ran some of Dorian's writings that had been unearthed by Reddit through some more linguistic analysis and they conclude he's not Satoshi "with some conviction".
posted by memebake at 10:37 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Are Libertarians always so polite when they ask the government for something?

Only when petitioning for more government regulation.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:50 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Brian B: [quoting Arthur Nakamato] "My brother is an asshole.... You're not going to be able to get to him. He'll deny everything. He'll never admit to starting Bitcoin."

I get the impression that Leah McGrath Goodman spoke at length to various members of Dorian's family and then cherry picked the bits that fit her hypothesis. I guess she did this in good faith, but was suffering from confirmation bias. She thought she was onto the scoop of the year.

Arthur Nakamoto seems to be a pretty colourful character (especially if that reddit post is genuine) and given that she basically say him down and explained that his brother was a secret genius inventor and multi-millionaire he was liable to say some pretty strange things.

When reading that Newsweek article you've got to assume that Leah has used 'journalistic license' to bolster her case (cherrypicking quotes and evidence etc). On my first reading it held water because (a) that killer quote about 'no longer involved' and (b) it was newsweek - which is why I posted this FPP. But as soon as Dorian starts denying it, and has a reasonable explanation for (a) (confusion, worries about confidentiality clauses, etc) Newsweek's case falls apart.

Leah McGrath Goodman literally went looking for people whose real name was Satoshi Nakamoto (a ridiculous approach to begin with, when you think about it). She got lucky with an engineer who could fit the bill at a stretch. Spoke to some excitable family members and then misunderstood a panicked exchange on Dorian's doorstep. Then she published. I think she was sincere, but too hasty.

By now Newsweek must know they fluffed it but instead of admitting it they are trying to maintain that Dorian is a liar. So this ageing gentleman is now saddled with having to prove that he is not someone who nobody knows the identity of. You have a giant corporation calling an old man a liar because the corporation is more worried about its shareholders than it is of telling the truth.
posted by memebake at 11:17 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Leah McGrath Goodman literally went looking for people whose real name was Satoshi Nakamoto (a ridiculous approach to begin with, when you think about it).

Everything else about this aside, it's not a ridiculous approach. It's maybe not one you expect to pay dividends, but it's an absolutely sane let's-clear-the-easy-stuff-first thing to do. You've got a name, you've got a lead; chase it down to either establish that (a) there's no joy, time to roll up the sleeves and dig in on something else, or (b) holy shit, the guy was hiding in plain sight. But you do your homework and you check the obvious stuff first.
posted by cortex at 11:24 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


By now Newsweek must know they fluffed it but instead of admitting it they are trying to maintain that Dorian is a liar. So this ageing gentleman is now saddled with having to prove that he is not someone who nobody knows the identity of. You have a giant corporation calling an old man a liar because the corporation is more worried about its shareholders than it is of telling the truth.

Newsweek is certainly not a giant corporation anymore. In fact it may be worse, Newsweek is trying to revive it's once decent reputaion in journalism and chose this article to be its big, splashy re-debut. The problem now is that it's full of holes (if not full of shit) and Newsweek cannot possibly backpedal because they are already trying to fight a major reputation deficit.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:33 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Everything else about this aside, it's not a ridiculous approach.

OK, I suppose its something you'd want to cross off the list. Perhaps Satoshi Nakamoto was a psuedonym that was borrowed from somewhere, so its worth looking into the origins of the name. But Leah never had a convincing explanation for why this "obsessively private", email-anonymising inventor who "went to great lengths to protect his anonymity" might use his real surname. An anomaly like that needs a really good explanation.
posted by memebake at 11:33 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Thanks regiment, OK, so Newsweek aren't a giant corp. They are still a big brand name though. Fighting dirty because they're on the ropes, from the sound of it.
posted by memebake at 11:36 AM on March 10


(I'm in the UK and never really noticed that Newsweek's fortunes had dipped. So when I read the article I read it like something from NYT or Wall St Journal or Time or whatever)
posted by memebake at 11:40 AM on March 10


> Newsweek alleges Dorian is "Libertarian" .... Are Libertarians always so polite when they ask the government for something?

Not only is Dorian not showing libertarian attributes, the creator(s) of bitcoin didn't either and all of the B.S. that has been hung on the bitcoin flagpole might be part of the reason he/she/they doesn't participate. It[PDF] was just PayPal without account freezes and high fees, not a replacement for fiat currency.
posted by morganw at 2:14 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


...the creator(s) of bitcoin didn't either and all of the B.S. that has been hung on the bitcoin flagpole might be part of the reason he/she/they doesn't participate. It[PDF] was just PayPal without account freezes and high fees, not a replacement for fiat currency.

This part goes goes beyond paypal - discussing 'mining,' circulation of bitcoin, and preventing inflation.
6 Incentive

By convention, the first transaction in a block is a special transaction that starts a new coin owned by the creator of the block. This adds an incentive for nodes to support the network, and provides a way to initially distribute coins into circulation, since there is no central authority to issue them. The steady addition of a constant of amount of new coins is analogous to gold miners expending resources to add gold to circulation. In our case, it is CPU time and electricity that is expended.

The incentive can also be funded with transaction fees. If the output value of a transaction is less than its input value, the difference is a transaction fee that is added to the incentive value of the block containing the transaction. Once a predetermined number of coins have entered circulation, the incentive can transition entirely to transaction fees and be completely inflation free.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:57 PM on March 10


I think a Libertarian being nice to people in city hall is about as weird as one of MeFi's self-professed anarchists being nice to people at the Department of Motor Vehicles, or one of MeFi's Occupy participants being nice to the teller at the bank when they go to withdraw some money...not at all. Having a loony political belief does not mean you automatically act like the absolute worst people who share your same political beliefs.
posted by Bugbread at 5:18 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Hell, I figured it was the anarchists who RAN the damn DMV.
posted by spitbull at 5:48 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Thats a fair point bugbread but for the sake of argument: its not just that he's polite, its that by being there he's recognising the legitimacy of local government and then by asking them to place a "stop sign" he's inviting them to use their powers and authority and tax dollars for the greater good etc etc. And he doesn't seem to be there grudgingly - he seems comfortable with the process.

I suppose you could still say "he's a libertarian that can deal with a large amount of cognitive dissonance" - which come to think of it, is perhaps a fairly common thing.

I don't mean to submit him to even greater scrutiny, but to have him turn up at a public meeting like that seemed notable. Anyway, whatever his political colours, there's plenty of other holes in the Newsweek story.
posted by memebake at 6:09 PM on March 10


I'm guessing (and it's just a guess) that like many things in life, he's thinking "this system sucks, but right now we're stuck with it, so the only way to accomplish my goals is to deal with it. But in my ideal world, this wouldn't be how I'd get stuff done." I don't even know that I'd call that cognitive dissonance.

Like, I think that making people take their shoes off at airports is stupid, but I take my shoes off at airports, because that's what it takes to get on a plane. It's not cognitive dissonance in that case, and I'm nice to the person at the airport, but I'm just jumping through the hoop because that's what you've got to do. And, likewise, he's probably just jumping through the hoop of asking city hall, because that's what you've got to do to get a stop sign put up.
posted by Bugbread at 6:25 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]




I'm just jumping through the hoop because that's what you've got to do.

I can't be the only person that raises his middle fingers, just enough to be ambiguously intentional, whenever I have to assume the position for the full body scan (in US airports).
posted by spitbull at 5:24 AM on March 11


I can't be the only person that raises his middle fingers, just enough to be ambiguously intentional, whenever I have to assume the position for the full body scan (in US airports).

I imagine this is the only time some of us experience a legal intrusion of any kind, which is common in most places for anyone suspected of not being enthusiastically supportive of the cultural regime.
posted by Brian B. at 7:13 AM on March 11


spitbull: "I can't be the only person that raises his middle fingers, just enough to be ambiguously intentional, whenever I have to assume the position for the full body scan (in US airports)."

Personally, I take the free massage and avoid the pornovision machine, but I've never been very good at just doing what the security people say.
posted by wierdo at 7:57 AM on March 11


the only time some of us experience a legal intrusion of any kind

That we are aware of. Since Snowden, I feel like adding an image of a middle finger to all my email signatures.
posted by spitbull at 9:08 AM on March 11


That we are aware of. Since Snowden,...

I was also suggesting that we are sheltered. I also wonder if the draft could ever come back, even for the best cause.
posted by Brian B. at 7:38 PM on March 11


The original Newsweek article has been posted on lyrics/annotation site RapGenius and then annotated by various commentators and technologists including Mosaic inventor/VC guy Marc Andreessen. Annotations by 'verified' peeps are in green, unverified peeps in yellow.
posted by memebake at 11:51 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


More anonymous hijinks - someone calling themselves "savethemhood" "Artist. Pickpocket." and kinda representing that they have stolen fiat from the rich (but explicitly denying theft of coin) just finished the doge4water fundraiser with 14 megaDOGE, over $10k USD.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:05 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]




That denial seems pretty unequivocal. The fact that he can't afford an internet connection would speak pretty strongly against his being the creator of Bitcoin.
posted by alms at 9:31 AM on March 17


That denial seems pretty unequivocal. The fact that he can't afford an internet connection would speak pretty strongly against his being the creator of Bitcoin.

I think that protesting too much after a tacit admission, and seeing only a downside in being associated with it, in pleaded poverty no less, is rather more evidence of hiding something. Also, his paranoia never changed a beat, from misunderstanding the question to fully understanding the question (implying that the state of fear is constant). Also, cutting a home internet connection is not evidence someone isn't hiding, especially bitcoin. The best evidence that this a giant misunderstanding would be a lie detector.
posted by Brian B. at 4:31 PM on March 17




Brian B: so Dorian is Satoshi until proven innocent?
posted by memebake at 11:52 AM on March 18


TOUS NOUS SOMME SATOSHI
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:59 AM on March 18


The best evidence that this a giant misunderstanding would be a lie detector.

Lie detectors are useless for providing any kind of evidence whatsoever. So no.

That denial is as flat out "This isn't me" as you can get.

Newsweek screwed the pooch and severely impacted this guy's life negatively. I'd sue.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:17 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


My understanding is that libel or defamation in the US requires that the author be aware that they were spreading false information or to have asserted something as factually correct without a reasonable basis for that fact. The corroborating statements from the police officers and the evidence presented in the article gives Newsweek ample legal cover. A lawsuit would take a long time, be expensive and subject Satoshi to additional disruptions and intrusions on his private life.
posted by humanfont at 12:53 PM on March 18


Brian B: so Dorian is Satoshi until proven innocent?

Two things. He blatantly admitted it, perhaps to divert a story, but when that didn't work, days later after the report, which he read, he basically reenacted what he said he was thinking when he was first interviewed, but as a fresh interview repeating itself, "I never even heard of that company..." etc. That was weird, and innocent or not, it was terrible acting. Secondly, he never wanted to be known. His denial is expected, and even foretold for him personally. Regardless, like anyone else wrongly accused of anything, they can deny, issue polygraph reports, and in this case, laugh and make some money on talk shows.
posted by Brian B. at 3:27 PM on March 18


There is no recording of the incident where he "blatantly admitted it" Many people have read the Newsweek quote and suggested that a misunderstanding may have occurred. The reporter wanted him to be the creator of Bitcoin. The cops were excited that he might be the creator of Bitcoin. Under those conditions it is likely that the participants remembered what they wanted to hear.

The remaining evidence that Dorian Nakamoto created bitcoin seems fairly weak. Anything is possible, but the odds seem pretty long at this point.
posted by humanfont at 5:39 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


Brian: List the evidence that he worked on bitcoin.
posted by empath at 8:05 PM on March 18


Brian: List the evidence that he worked on bitcoin.

He admitted it, to end an interview he saw coming for weeks. Feel free to list the evidence that he worked on something else, anything, that he should be so ashamed of, to fear a reporter (although I risk confusing those who don't credit the fact that a Japanese-born American would likely experience a sense of responsibility or shame over inventing bitcoin and Tokyo's Mt. Gox scandal).
posted by Brian B. at 8:24 PM on March 18


So that's it? He said so?

He can't have done it because I wrote bitcoin.
posted by empath at 10:19 PM on March 18


Untrue! I 'm the real Dorian Satoshi!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:24 PM on March 18


I'm Brian of Nazareth and so's my wife!
posted by Chrysostom at 10:42 PM on March 18


Correction, some gawker-esque fame hungry reporter says he said that. There's no recording or anything of that statement, and the same person came out later and said it wasn't them.

Basically everything humanfont said over and over to infinity.
posted by emptythought at 10:43 PM on March 18


It's a shame nobody thought of the possibilities of using this moment as a viral for a GoPro advert, really...
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:36 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I think one of the most compelling things to me about whether Dorian Nakamoto is the inventor of Bitcoin is how much of a total Uber Mastermind of Deception he'd need to be if Newsweek's conclusions were true.

Mike Hearn published a lengthy analysis of the facts and writings attributed to Dorian and the Bitcoin Satoshi -- he calls it the "Newsweek Credibility Matrix".

One of Hearn's major points seems to be that for Dorian Nakamoto to be the inventor of Bitcoin, he would have to have engaged in an amazingly elaborate act of linguistic deception, in which his "Satoshi" personna exhibits amazing facility with the English language, along with using colloquialisms that are inconsistent with a 64-year-old non-English speaker. That, on top of other acts of concealment.

If Newsweek's conclusions are true, then Dorian went to great lengths to plant false seeds about his identity, skills and linguistic aptitude. While such levels of deception are certainly possible -- think sleeper agents and such -- that analysis strongly suggests to me which way Occam's Razor cuts here.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 11:19 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]


that analysis strongly suggests to me which way Occam's Razor cuts here.

If you assume only a few things, it fits rather neatly. The first assumption would be an expert genius who invents a money machine that pays himself first, and easiest, who then sits atop an empire of digital liquidity as it rises in value. The second would be his attempt at avoiding detection by a straightforward computer analysis of the entire internet to determine who the inventor was. This method was likely attempted many times. He no doubt saw this detection as inevitable if he didn't take steps. Avoiding this detection is not nefarious, but simple privacy and fair game where internet money is concerned. He was probably very proud of his machine, and in the future reserved the right to be associated with it. What he perhaps didn't see was Mt. Gox coming, timed with a methodical out of band analysis of his original name. This would be very embarrassing to someone like Dorian, who would very likely, initially, first acknowledge his role when confronted, though limit his responsibility. When that backfired, he might desperately but carefully deny involvement without explicitly denying it. He would also be terrified for lack of control, naturally unable to behave in a way that expresses the full range of options for being mistaken for the genius inventor of digital money. All of those things happened.

As for the any parts where he is using complex English in a professional presentation, much of it is standard language where economics and digital currency intersect, and it's been around for awhile.
posted by Brian B. at 6:21 AM on March 20


So he used his real name?
posted by empath at 8:01 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


It's the last thing they'd expect!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:10 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Ok I'm convinced, Brian B. is the inventor of Bitcoin.
posted by humanfont at 5:33 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


MT.GOX just found roughly $100million in bitcoins under a couch cushion.
posted by Justinian at 2:42 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


(no, really).
posted by Justinian at 2:42 AM on March 21




Oh man, this is too funny.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:48 AM on March 21


I preferred the /. writeup : ".. MtGox has 'found' 200,000 Bitcoins in a 'forgotten' wallet that they thought was empty (PDF). The value of the coins is estimated to be $116 million USD, which happens to cover their $64 million USD in outstanding debts nicely and might offer them the chance to emerge from bankruptcy. There is no explanation yet of why the sneaky thieves that 'stole' the bitcoins used a MtGox wallet to hide them."  lol
posted by jeffburdges at 8:54 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


These guys are a bunch of clowns. Or possibly criminal masterminds.

Or both?
posted by Justinian at 11:16 AM on March 21


Criminal masterclowns?
posted by Chrysostom at 11:20 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]


Insolvent clown posse.
posted by cortex at 11:35 AM on March 21 [10 favorites]


Aurora airdrop has begun to Icelanders. Blockchain got jammed up with difficulty and slow for a while but things look functioning and legit for now. National coins are the new hotness, with Spain and Cyprus (AphroditeCoin) making good spots in CoinMKTcap listings so far and a bunch more (many obviously not serious efforts if not flat scams) at various points in the launch process.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:59 PM on March 24


save alive nothing that breatheth: "Aurora airdrop has begun to Icelanders."

Rabbit chuckle bombs onning train tracks.
posted by Bugbread at 9:30 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]




IRS Declares Bitcoin Is Property and Must Be Taxed As Such

Q-8: Does a taxpayer who “mines” virtual currency (for example, uses computer resources to validate Bitcoin transactions and maintain the public Bitcoin transaction ledger) realize gross income upon receipt of the virtual currency resulting from those activities?

A-8: Yes, when a taxpayer successfully “mines” virtual currency, the fair market value of the virtual currency as of the date of receipt is includible in gross income. See Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income, for more information on taxable income.

I bet USian Bitcoin miners are super thrilled to be paying taxes on their freshly-mined BTC.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:08 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Which is the only sensible finding, in my opinion. If bitcoin has value, then it is subject to tax.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:35 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Satoshi Nakamoto's Neighbor: The Bitcoin Ghostwriter Who Wasn't. A sweet and heart-breaking update on Hal Finney, one of the more important and productive cypherpunks. (He wrote a lot of PGP, also was user #2 of Bitcoin.)

Also Bitcoin and me (Hal Finney), his own story from last week.
posted by Nelson at 1:50 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


I bet USian Bitcoin miners are super thrilled to be paying taxes on their freshly-mined BTC.

Even more interesting is that the IRS notice is retroactive, i.e. if bitcoin miners didn't report the fair market value of their mined bitcoins on their prior year tax returns they are going to have to file 1040X amended returns for those years. Having to pay those (possibly unanticipated) back taxes might be quite burdensome. More worrisome for those miners is answer A-16 on the notice, in which the IRS declines to rule out the possibility of having to pay penalties for failing to report those older transactions (although they do appear to be open to the possibility of penalty relief if the miner can demonstrate reasonable cause).
posted by RichardP at 4:11 PM on March 25


Nelson, the post from Hal Finney (i.e. "Bitcoin and me") is a year old, not a week old.
posted by RichardP at 4:17 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


If consistency or sense was required of politics, making bitcoin "property" like a shoe would free the BTC/USD exchanges from a lot of onerous regulation, since they're no more than an online shoe store, but somehow I think BTC will still be considered like currency for those purposes.

This guidance could be worse, but could be a lot better or at least clearer. They don't seem very clear as to exactly what point(s) of the mining process is the taxable transaction - block time in the blockchain, deposit into the pool account, withdrawal from the pool...

They could be an intentional or unintentional paperwork attack, perhaps requiring recordkeeping for every purchase or gift of crypto, but I'm not too worried about that, that political problem being easily solved by technological means.

I'm figuring tax year 2013 will be basically unenforced besides a few instances of example-setting or egregious amounts, and new guidance for tax year 2014. (Potentially with various powers and monies entering the political arena against the credit card and Western Union type monies.) Ideally regulations would tend towards sui generis...

Shit regulations will tend to be yet another factor adding to the United States' increasing backwardness, tending to drive economic activity overseas. It's probably also better to draw up a tax regime people will accept, rather than spur development of the really cryptoanarchist coins.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:28 PM on March 25


"paperwork attack" is a great phrase by the way. I could use that. "My project was going fine but then HR and Finance subjected me to a distributed paperwork attack"
posted by memebake at 5:07 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


OK, you know what, actually forget it, a shocking new argument shows BTC cannot serve as money.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:14 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Wait i'm confuzzled. So if you mined a bunch of coins, or bought a bunch when they were like 5 cents or generally under $1 do you only have to pay taxes on that amount?

Because if so, this is pretty outrageous.

Is it basically along the lines of if you bought the first edition harry potter and the sorcerers stone for $14 and then got it signed, and now it's worth a couple grand or whatever but since you only paid $14 that's all the value is for tax purposes?

I realize that's a flawed analogy, but you kinda get what i'm saying right...
posted by emptythought at 5:32 PM on March 25


"IRS Declares Bitcoin Is Property and Must Be Taxed As Such"

Wow. I mean obviously the owners think these things have value and the miners have generated that value. But I would have thought it would have been treated either as a capital gain with tax payable on transfer or as production of an item with taxes due on sale.

I mean take the example of a tree to product craftsman. She might harvest a tree from her wood lot (that she may have planted 50 years ago or her g'g'grand father planted 200 years ago), saw it into lumber, dry it for a few years, plane and dimension it and then turn it into a piece of spec furniture which sits in her sales room for a year before being sold. Generally taxes would be owed when the table sold but this IRS BitCoin ruling if apllied to our cabinetmaker would have her paying taxes on the wood either at harvest, sawing or dimensioning.

Do people have to pay taxes on stock options when they earn them or when they vest or when they subsequently sell them?
posted by Mitheral at 5:48 PM on March 25


Or more simply does a coal mine owe taxes on a tonne of coal the second it hits the mine cart?
posted by Mitheral at 5:50 PM on March 25


You must pay taxes when you sell assets like BTC for a profit in USD, but not when the assets change in value, emptythought, afaik that always impacted BTC.

These new rules merely tax when you generate the BTC rather than later. Now you'll no longer pay taxes on the original value when you mined the coins, only on the gain or lose, but that sucks for miners because they'll pay oodles in taxes now, they must keep the tax records bloody ages, and when-not-if BTC collapses due to superior alternatives they cannot easily recoup those taxes unless they're earning lots elsewhere.

Appears likely Diablo 3 players owe income taxes on their in-game winnings too, while WoW players probably do not. And do Dogecoin's count because nobody takes them seriously? Ponzicoins? etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:57 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Mitheral, I think a close real-world analogy for the rules the IRS has adopted for bitcoins (in IRS speak a "convertible virtual currency") is the rules that would apply to a beachcomber who routinely found gold coins at the beach (if such individuals actually existed). In theory such a beachcomber would have to pay income tax on the fair market value of the coins at the time he found them. If he later sold the coins he would either have a gain or loss depending on the difference between the price he received for the coins and their original value. The gain or loss would be treated like the sale of any other comparable asset (i.e. reporting a gain as income or possibly deducting a loss).
posted by RichardP at 6:22 PM on March 25


Is it basically along the lines of if you bought the first edition harry potter and the sorcerers stone for $14 and then got it signed, and now it's worth a couple grand or whatever but since you only paid $14 that's all the value is for tax purposes?

In that case you're taxed when you sell the book for big bucks.

What this seems like you is you take a book (computer) and some time/energy to go get it signed (electricity) and you're being taxed on your earnings from the act of getting that book signed, whatever that's worth at the time, as well as your gains when the signature is worth much more years on. And that probably makes some sense for BTC, but I'm pretty unclear on exactly when the tax is incurred.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:38 PM on March 25


Do people have to pay taxes on stock options when they earn them or when they vest or when they subsequently sell them?

When they vest.
posted by Justinian at 6:52 PM on March 25


Note that this is how some chumps got screwed back in the tech boom; they didn't sell the options once they vested, were charged tax on them, and the options subsequently became worthless. Do not keep all your eggs in one basket.
posted by Justinian at 6:55 PM on March 25


I'm pretty unclear on exactly when the tax is incurred.

The IRS notice says the fair market value is assessed as of "the date of receipt." By extension from other IRS rulings I think the precise timing of the "taxable event" for the "date of receipt" is the earliest point in time the "fair market value" can be "readily determined" after the miner acquires the right to transfer the bitcoin, but I'm not familiar enough with the bitcoin protocol to known when that occurs.
posted by RichardP at 6:56 PM on March 25


You don't pay taxes on stock options when they vest. You might pay taxes when when "you receive the option, when you exercise the option, or when you dispose of the option or stock received when you exercise the option." The most common case for employee stock options is when you exercise the option.
posted by RichardP at 6:59 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


The tax treatment of stock options depends on the kind of options they are. For ISOs that were popular in Silicon Valley, they are taxed at time of exercise. Most people try to only exercise either immediately (with $0 gain), or else at stock sale. ISOs are not as popular as they used to be though. The truth is stock option taxing is complicated. Ask an accountant for advice; a few hundred bucks up front can save you literally hundreds of thousands of dollars later if you get lucky.

I love the irony of Bitcoin being taxed by the US government. It's completely unenforceable, of course, at least until you try to convert the BTC to dollars.
posted by Nelson at 7:03 PM on March 25


Note that this is how some chumps got screwed back in the tech boom; they didn't sell the options once they vested, were charged tax on them, and the options subsequently became worthless. Do not keep all your eggs in one basket.

Yep, I know a guy who in 1999, at the age of 22, was worth just south of $30 million on paper. He quit his job, bought multiple houses and cars, started throwing raves (at a big loss). Then the dotcom crash happened and now all he had left is a one bedroom apartment in SF and an audi, and he had to go back to work. Not that he's poor by any means, but he no longer has fuck you money. It was a combination of borrowing money against options that hadn't vested and taxes that did him in.
posted by empath at 7:17 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


You don't pay taxes on stock options when they vest. You might pay taxes when when "you receive the option, when you exercise the option, or when you dispose of the option or stock received when you exercise the option." The most common case for employee stock options is when you exercise the option.

True enough. Someone could vest their options and simply choose not to exercise them I guess. Most people in my experience exercise the options as soon as they are vested.
posted by Justinian at 8:53 PM on March 25


Please don't exercise vested options until you understand the tax consequences.
posted by Nelson at 10:39 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]




No one here ever eats a hat.

YOU HAVE TOOTED A LIE-TUNE FROM A FALSE-FLUTE
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:44 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


I AM ASHAMED I WASNT REALLY EVEN READING MUCH THAT YEAR

My next significant transaction will donate ONE HUNDRED DOGECOINS to the miners in self-punishment.

But I'll be damned if most of those answers aren't weak as shit. It's about eating a hat, not hat-shaped bacon or chocolate.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 11:02 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Well, it's a hat intended to be eaten, so I think anonymous gets a pass on some of that.

I'm amused to see that people are using unrelated android apps to covertly mine cryptocurrencies. Mining on a phone has got to be dog-slow (although I know someone who set up a NeXT station for mining as a "bitcoin space heater"), but if you've got a lot of them, well... I guess?
posted by rmd1023 at 4:03 AM on March 27


Nah, I'm with save alive nothing that breatheth. If you're eating a hat, you're eating a hat. A hat made of Fruit Roll-Ups or something similar is fine, but a hat-shaped cake is pretty much bullshit, unless you wear it on your head first.

Either way, I tip my cake to the dude who actually ate a hat. Too many people don't honor their agreements, viz. Sean Hannity reneging on his agreement to be waterboarded.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:52 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


Oh, you totally have to *wear* it first. Otherwise it's not really a hat!
posted by rmd1023 at 9:45 AM on March 27


This is not tax advice, but just my understanding of things. You should probably consult an accountant if you have any significant bitcoin holdings.

In the case of Bitcoin mining, my understanding is that miners will owe income tax on the market price of the coin at the time it was mined. So if you mined a coin and Coinbase says the market price today is $50, then you must count that $50 as income. You will need to record when you got the bitcoin and what the fair market value was at the time you obtained it for purposes of calculating your income.

Now assume you held the coin and the market price goes to $1000. You don't owe additional income tax so long as you continue to hold the coin, because it is property. However if you trade the coin to buy something, or you go to an exchange and get dollars; then you owe more taxes (if the price has gone up). If the price has gone down, you could count that as a loss. If you have held the coin for more than a year, you might be eligible for long term capital gains, meaning you would only owe 15% of the value, instead of treating the gain as ordinary income.

So if you are doing business in bitcoin save your records as you will need them. Every time you buy something with bitcoins you will need to calculate the value of the coins on a public exchange. Then you will need to determine the difference between the price you obtained the bitcoins at vs. current price. Any gain will need to be considered income.

As an example. Joe was an early Bitcoin miner with 1000btc he obtained back when Bitcoin were essentially worthless. He purchases a $35,000 car with some of his Bitcoin. He must count the $35,000 as a capital gain. If he mined the coins several years ago he could probably count this long term capital gain, so he owes $5,250.00 in taxes.

As second example. Sally is a bitcoin miner and she obtained 3BTC in transaction fees in January when public exchanges showed BTC to USD = $1000. Thus she has $3000 in income in 2015. She holds her bitcoin as prices fall. Next year she does her taxes and has to pay all her self employment taxes, resulting in about $1400 in tax liability. The US government doesn't take Bitcoin so she sells her BTC on the market in April 2016 for $400, providing $1200 in cash and forcing her to find another $200 to pay up for 2015 taxes. In 2017 when she pays her taxes she can use the loss of $1800 to offset some of her 2016 income.
posted by humanfont at 10:34 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


Seems like there will be games to play with "which bitcoins" (near-meaningless) you spend at which time.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:47 PM on March 27


Not really. If you don't do FIFO accounting, you're going to be begging for an audit.

There will likely be software to track all this stuff automagically for you soon.
posted by empath at 11:08 PM on March 27


I just had a little LOL because of the image of having to track and remember to spend in order conventional paper money. Whoops I almost bought this soda with a dollar bill when the next bill I need to spend is this 100.
posted by Mitheral at 11:23 PM on March 27


i think a lot of the lollerskating here is that both the government and the bitbeards seem to want to think of btc as being in some superposition of being a currency AND a security.

It's been pretty plainly proven that it's useless as a currency(and this is another nail in the coffin), but looking at it strictly as a security it's not as stupid.

It fluctuates a lot, but this law sure seems to be treating it like a security.
posted by emptythought at 12:59 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


It's been pretty plainly proven that it's useless as a currency

It's been what now?
posted by empath at 1:03 AM on March 28


It's been pretty plainly proven that it's useless as a currency

It's been what now?


"Useless" may be a strong and vague term, but it certainly is "bad" either way. I can't think of any compelling, legitimate use for BTC as a currency. It's unreliable and deflationary. The protocol is limited to 7 transactions per second, with no clear plan to scale upwards. The culture has been fatally bogged down by starry-eyed an-caps and hilariously-blatant con artists. The vast majority of legitimate businesses which accept BTC actually really don't - they go through Bitpay or similar, which means that hilarity may ensue when Bitpay, etc. are forced to open their books (or shutter their doors). Many of the "positives" of BTC are either solutions to problems that don't exist, or they are "positives" if and only if you subscribe to a certain set of ideologies, e.g. if you think decentralization is always inherently good and regulatory bodies are always inherently bad, then you might think BTC is a good idea, but for everybody else, those aren't going to be selling points.

Cryptocurrencies in general may produce some ideas of worth, but BTC ain't it.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:49 AM on March 28


Also the Wash Sale rule may apply if you are continually buying and selling Bitcoins. When combined with the volatility of bitcoin this rule is a nightmare. Suppose you buy a Bitcoin for $50 and then buy something when the market prices bitcoins at $40. Now technically you've lost $10/btc. Of course if Bitcoin is trading at $60/btc; then you always must report the $10 btc income. But consider the first case. You lose your ability to report this as a loss if you go and acquire a new Bitcoin to replace the coin you spent within 30 days of the transaction because you've engaged in a "wash sale." Your cost basis for the BTC accounting purposes remains $50.
posted by humanfont at 12:14 PM on March 28


UBS has a smart piece on Bitcoin. "Problematic currency, interesting payment system". That sounds about right.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:14 PM on March 28


It's been pretty plainly proven that it's useless as a currency

It's been what now?


Read the hilarious accounts of localbitcoins, cashing out, or trying to pay at some stores from previous threads.

It really does feel like trying to trade a rare item in the craigslist barter section, or something. Yea it could sound like an exaggeration, but it's a Large Hassle. And my point remains that people need to decide if it's a currency or security. Trying to be both will hurt it.
posted by emptythought at 1:16 PM on March 28


If you aren't day trading on one of the exchanges, it is ridiculously easy to buy and sell bitcoins using coinbase. It literally takes minutes. The problems with the shady overseas exchanges are basically gone now.
posted by empath at 2:33 PM on March 28


It's been pretty plainly proven that it's useless as a currency

It might be true that bitcoin was touted as an ideal illicit currency in the beginning, though less so today since law enforcement found a few reasons not to hate it, but bitcoin as a public currency wasn't entirely ruined until this week with the IRS ruling.

Why Bitcoin can no longer work as a virtual currency in one paragraph. Excerpt:

The price at which a particular Bitcoin was acquired (and this is traceable) determines the capital gains on that particular Bitcoin when spent. If I spend Bitcoin A, which I bought at $10, but is now worth $400, I’ve got a very different tax treatment than if I spend Bitcoin B, which I bought at $390. […] This means Bitcoins are not fungible, and that makes it unworkable as a currency.
posted by Brian B. at 3:12 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Why is this an issue for bitcoin and not for foreign currencies, which also fluctuate in value against the dollar?
posted by aubilenon at 3:20 PM on March 28


Why is this an issue for bitcoin and not for foreign currencies, which also fluctuate in value against the dollar?

Foreign currencies aren't legal tender, per se, and neither are gold and silver, except in some states where laws have recently been passed, but federal taxes apply. Legal currencies are always a tax instrument, and their status is protected accordingly. When someone mentions "fiat currency" like they know what they are talking about, feel free to ask, "Is there any other kind?"
posted by Brian B. at 3:30 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Why is this an issue for bitcoin and not for foreign currencies, which also fluctuate in value against the dollar?

It is an issue which is why many companies write their contracts in dollars instead of a foreign currency, or they buy various financial products to hedge against the volitility of the other currency. Businesses near the Canadian border who take Canadian dollars usually convert currency the same day (which is what happens with some of the Bitcoin payment providers).
posted by humanfont at 3:48 PM on March 28


We already deal with investment instruments purchased at different prices all the time, Brian B. There is no 'particular' bitcoin, just like there is no particular GBP in a British bank account, just an account in the blockchain with a given balance in BTC. You deal with all the purchases and sales in aggregate after the tax year ends. It's more complicated than USD but no more complicated than another financial instrument.

There is a tax disaster for both BTC miners, and Diablo 3 players in that they must now pay US taxes when they mine, or kill a monster, and take the gain or lose later. It certainly feels unfair that WoW players, or users of altcoins lacking exchanges, need not need not pay US taxes when they kill monsters or mine altcoins. Why must Diablo 3 players pay taxes on their winnings, and later take loses, while WoW players need not? Yeah, folks hate the IRS for a reason, sorry.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:12 AM on March 29




That thread may or may not be full of shit - AUR certainly had a planned fork and it might just be some minor difficulties with that, though there are certainly BTC true believers (Luke-jr of Eligius pool and a frequent contributor to the core client, who may have abused his miners' computing power as well - right now he's admitting an attack on CoiledCoin but saying he used his own resources only.) who are not above hacking altcoins. This is my opinion mostly, but I think and hope to see 51% attacks eventually earn fines and jail time.

Basically the Wall Street & SV money is going to have to kick out many of the early BTC figures if they want to stick with BTC per se rather than the tech in general - Marc Andreesen recently estimated lolbertarians will have turned on BTC within two years. People complain "no women in BTC", well here you go, LOL: "@barrysilbert @bitpay @Coinvoice @rogerkver Why are your lips pressed so hard against the ass of regulators/compliance like puppy on a bitch". (@BarrySilbert is serious finance guy, opening up an exchange.)

The entire leadership of the BTC Foundation is corrupt or appears so, humorously except maybe for alleged launderer Charlie Shrem who may be mostly being made an example and at worst was just moving drug money. Two Bit Idiot was calling them out melodramatically, and now Andreas Antonopoulos, and Andreas is very serious. (Of interest here, he's started doing harassment policy advocacy for BTC cons. On the other hand he's had some weird tweets about Crimea.)

Back to that thread/AUR - Bitcointalk is shit-tier, I've heard rumors the admins themselves are scammers.

Watching the run up in AUR prices for a coin that was theoretically dropping 20x the liquidity (In practice, with 6.5% of Icelanders claiming their coins these past few days "only" a doubling in the money supply.) on a known date was HILARIOUS. People seriously threw money at it solely because they saw it on CoinMarketCap. No one priced in the airdrop. Ludicrous.

We'll see shortly if there's anything to this "GAME OVER" or just shittalking, but if AUR is still functioning it's looking like everything's going decently enough.

DISCLOSURE: I currently hold no AUR but I might pick up maybe .01-.05 BTC worth depending on how things go over the next few days. I've been thinking about travelling there one of these days...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:29 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]




Ain't clear why 51% attacks should be illegal. Should in-game player killing be illegal in Diablo 3? What makes BTC, much less an altcoin, so special? Just because you build a system does not obligate the world to use it they way you like.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:17 AM on March 30


Because laws are made by man, and applying 51% hash power is an improper use of the technology.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:24 AM on March 30


Re: 51% (Or 50%+)

There is the majority rule, essentially allowing the majority stakeholder to control the franchise, with a conditionality. The majority rule is an extension of might makes right, but adjusted to include equality of rights to allow a democratic game, as it were. The majority stakeholder cannot therefore take advantage of the underlying control to change the rules to favor inequality, or else the game is over. All rules must be universally applied so that a perceived minority cannot be targeted. Unfortunately, you won't find this written down anywhere, but it was once common sense to egalitarians.

Accordingly, alt-coins could use a divested central panel or at least two consuls, randomly chosen or otherwise, to eliminated this prospect by their judgement. I doubt this would fly, however, because of adherents' fatally flawed belief that freedom is money and justice is self-interest, which misdirects their attacks against all central authorities who physically embody both (and is a fundamentalist thinking error derived from poverty, because it is wrongly assumed that such authorities cannot exist without either money or personal interest).

Aside: The very notion that an alt-coin lacks a safeguard against self-implosion seems to point to a very traditional type of creator who takes for granted that the universe is implicitly ordered, which points to an old Japanese guy who might simply distrust trading with foreigners.
posted by Brian B. at 9:11 AM on March 30


What about DVD region coding, DMCA anti-circumvention provisions, etc.? What if Valve bought legislation making aim-bots illegal in half-life? etc. All these laws are morally wrong.

I'm thrilled with mathematics, laws of nature, epidemiology, viability of technology, etc. dictating the constraints on human laws, but I'm against an authority dictating a priori proper and improper use of technology, mathematics, etc. Just make all your altcoin miners sign a contract that they agree to rollback any 50%+ style attack before you let them join the network, problem solved.

Or else, you listen to all the environmentalists asking the altcoins to abandon proof-of-work as the standard and use proof-of-burn instead. I presume that makes the 50%+ attack depend on owning too many coins, much less than 50%. And thankfully all the miners now have a vested interest in lowering the Gini coefficient because inequality itself represents a direct threat to everyone.

Said differently, there is no reason society should sacrifice its right to develop interesting new technologies just so that you can continue to pretend an outdated experimental crypto-currency unit actually has real value.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:18 PM on March 30


jeffburdges, one "feature" of bitcoin was supposed to be that the structure of the coin infrastructure was self-regulating, with enforcement via cryptography and not requiring any central authority or legal restrictions to guarantee the integrity of the blockchain. Yeah it's deflationary but it's also immune to the whims of governments, judges, and corporations. Once the integrity of the infrastructure depends on outside enforcement, it's no different than scraps of paper or oyster shells or blocks of metal or whatever else we've decided to trade on this century.
posted by localroger at 2:32 PM on March 30



it's no different than scraps of paper or oyster shells or blocks of metal or whatever else we've decided to trade on this century.


The difference is you can make electronic peer-to-peer 'cash' transactions (pseudoanonymously) without a third party guarantee - and BTC is basically impossible to counterfeit. Maybe government backed "fiat" currency will have similar features someday making secure transaction and electronic storage more efficient.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:49 PM on March 30


not requiring any central authority

I see a lot of talk over central authority without specifying who it represents, owners or outsiders. There is always a way to safeguard the majority will or common interest without actually owning enough to do anything about it. It would resemble a one-person-one-vote scenario, which is facilitated by electing a set of ombudsmen or managers to safeguard the entire scheme with veto power (rather than on demand emergency voting with partial information). It's merely a bicameral method of counting interests, one based on shares, the other based on participation.
posted by Brian B. at 2:52 PM on March 30


Yeah GE that's the "useful as payment method but not so much as store of wealth" argument, which does carry a lot of weight.

BB I have no idea what you are on about. There are no votes or representatives or managers or any other authorities presiding over a cryptocurrency; they are neither needed nor possible if the encryption protocol is designed correctly. The whole idea is that the structure enforces itself mathematically without the messy intervention of possibly corruptible people.
posted by localroger at 3:02 PM on March 30


It's merely a bicameral method of counting interests, one based on shares, the other based on participation.

A bitcoin is a share of the network.
posted by empath at 3:04 PM on March 30


Something I could do easily with technology and math - it would be easier to achieve the appearance, at least, of winning this argument by deleting opposing comments. If security here is lax, I could do this by writing a trivial script to send Metafilter login requests with username Mathowie and passwords starting at "0" and ending at "ZZZZZZZZ". I imagine the deletion interface is relatively straightforward after that. Perhaps the password is actually too long for this, or the server would not process requests after a few, but otherwise the tech and math checks out. Legally not so much, and the legality doesn't depend on a long password or a proper lockout.

Or I could remove small pieces of plastic from my friends' things when they urinate while visiting, record some numbers, and use them to cause certain other numbers to change.

I would still definitely like to see technological solutions as well, and don't want obsolete technologies propped up overly long solely by law. Perhaps getting rid of credit card fraud laws would encourage the abandonment of that garbage technology.

I don't think it makes sense to expect both the success of crypto in some widespread financial use (side note- you heard it here first - we're probably switching to the phrase "digital currency") and a continuing lack of laws governing its use.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:28 PM on March 30


Brian B.: "points to an old Japanese guy who might simply distrust trading with foreigners."

I'm not sure who you're talking about here, but if you mean some hypothetical old guy in Japan, I think the textual analysis has said that's unlikely, and if you're talking about Dorian Nakamoto, he's not Japanese, he's American, and I'm not sure why you think he would distrust trading with non-Americans.
posted by Bugbread at 6:12 PM on March 30


I think the textual analysis has said that's unlikely,

Already addressed that above. To recap, he would have foreseen a textual analysis (obviously), and he tacitly admitted it; or rather blatantly counting the number of professional witnesses, or those people who witness what other people say, for their job, while on the job. Denial is the easy road. Also, his second attempt around was a non-denial, and a re-enactment. He probably mistrusted everyone.
posted by Brian B. at 6:19 PM on March 30


Based on your "his second attempt around was a non-denial, and a re-enactment" comment, I assume that when you say "he", you're talking about Dorian? Then, like I said, he's not Japanese, he's American.
posted by Bugbread at 6:24 PM on March 30


and if you're talking about Dorian Nakamoto, he's not Japanese, he's American, and I'm not sure why you think he would distrust trading with non-Americans.

How does anyone know he's american?
posted by emptythought at 7:41 PM on March 30


It says it the Newsweek article. I mean, the Newsweek article has it's faults, but I haven't seen any evidence that it got the straightforward facts (His name, age, nationality, city of residence, etc.) wrong.
posted by Bugbread at 7:49 PM on March 30


To recap, he would have foreseen a textual analysis (obviously), and he tacitly admitted it;

Any extraordinary methods you propose to conceal his identity kind of fall down, logically, since you have to start with him using his real name to publish the paper.
posted by empath at 7:50 PM on March 30


since you have to start with him using his real name to publish the paper.

His birth name is not his moniker? If this is wrong, let me know, because in my normal analysis of the humans I know he would have been very proud of his invention in the beginning, like he is/was of his birth name, the proud traditionalist to the end. That is key. If he was born Dorian in Japan, then all bets are off, and I apologize.
posted by Brian B. at 9:00 PM on March 30


In 1973, Satoshi Nakamoto, then 23 and fresh from California State Polytechnic University, changed his name to Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto, and for the rest of his life went by Dorian S. Nakamoto. He was born in Beppu, Japan, the descendant of Samurais and Buddhist priests, and his mother immigrated to California in 1959.

I don't know why you think this matters so much. I could believe that when he first wrote bitcoin Satoshi didn't think it would amount to much and had no qualms about putting his real name on it, but it really, really doesn't look like Dorian is the guy with the writing evidence and no cryptography in his background, and no one from his background really convinced it is him.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:27 PM on March 30


Just a tangentially related book review :
Money : The Unauthorized Biography
posted by jeffburdges at 1:40 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


It says it the Newsweek article. I mean, the Newsweek article has it's faults, but I haven't seen any evidence that it got the straightforward facts (His name, age, nationality, city of residence, etc.) wrong.


Except uh, that as has been discussed on here a lot that there's no real evidence that's the guy except that his name is the same as the alias? And that he outright denies it, by every account except for the initial one of that reporter?
posted by emptythought at 4:05 PM on March 31


The Gaurdian profiles Newsweek's unconventional new owners.
posted by humanfont at 5:07 PM on March 31


emptythought: "Except uh, that as has been discussed on here a lot that there's no real evidence that's the guy except that his name is the same as the alias? And that he outright denies it, by every account except for the initial one of that reporter?"

I'm sorry, I don't understand why you're addressing that comment at me. I'm not talking about whether Dorian Sakamoto is or isn't Satoshi Nakamoto. I'm just saying "Dorian Nakamoto is not an old Japanese guy, he's an old American guy". Brian B. believes Dorian = Satoshi. You believe someone else = Satoshi. None of that has anything to do with what I'm talking about.
posted by Bugbread at 6:27 PM on March 31


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