"There is a certain power and mystery in secrets..."
December 8, 2015 3:04 PM   Subscribe

WIRED does a deep dive into the identity of Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, and points the finger at Dr Craig Steven Wright: "Either Wright invented bitcoin, or he’s a brilliant hoaxer who very badly wants us to believe he did."
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts (127 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, one can only hope this was sourced a little better than Newsweek's embarrassment.
posted by qcubed at 3:08 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, one can only hope this was sourced a little better than Newsweek's embarrassment.

They write extensively about their evidence. They also spoke directly (via email) with Wright, who confirmed in an evasive sort of way. Even then, they admit that they are not entirely sure but it seems pretty convincing to me.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:10 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


He also invented the full-body tattoo of the body, and the six-minute abs.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 3:11 PM on December 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


Right, there's a lot more in the article than was ever in Newsweek's.
posted by qcubed at 3:13 PM on December 8, 2015




I believe the answer has been hiding in plain sight.

Satoshi Nakamoto is Satoshi Kanazawa.
posted by grobstein at 3:20 PM on December 8, 2015


Satoshi Nakamoto is Spartacus.
posted by I-baLL at 3:21 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's me, I'm Satoshi Nakamoto.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 3:32 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's an interesting article, and more credible than any recent unmasking. For me the big question about Satoshi is what the hell is going on with the $200M+ in bitcoins that belong to Satoshi. That is an enormous amount of money to just sit on. The Wired story has an answer for that, sort of. Then again it's all pretty squirrelly.

I'll note a Craig S. Wright posted once to Cypherpunks in 1996. Maybe only the one time, but it's more than zero. I've long felt that whoever is behind Bitcoin had to at least be a lurker on Cypherpunks, if not a participant.

The Reddit discussion is ambiguous.
posted by Nelson at 3:33 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


After all the crazy shit to happen in the Bitcoin community it would suprise me if this was a con. It would also not suprise me if he was Satoshi.
posted by humanfont at 3:35 PM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Gizmodo also has an article out. Says someone tipped them off about a month ago (guess same applies to Wired).
posted by effbot at 3:39 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Gizmodo had their own investigation ongoing, and just published even more details on this story.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 3:41 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


the question seems to be whether he is the guy or just pretending to be the guy
posted by atoxyl at 3:42 PM on December 8, 2015


Satoshi Nakamoto is Donnie Brasco.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:43 PM on December 8, 2015


I haven't been keeping up, so that big Newsweek reveal was total bs?
posted by valkane at 3:51 PM on December 8, 2015


It's certainly plausible - Wright is a forensics and security expert, has a speciality in economics and has 5 Masters degrees in addition to his PhD.

lol what a nerd
posted by poffin boffin at 3:52 PM on December 8, 2015 [16 favorites]


I haven't been keeping up, so that big Newsweek reveal was total bs?

Yep. Breathless, poorly-researchered dreck that overturned a random old dude's life for no reason. I'm still kinda stunned they haven't been sued over it.
posted by Itaxpica at 3:54 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Tessier-Ashpool@AnonymousSpeech.com

Oh ffs.
posted by valkane at 4:03 PM on December 8, 2015 [14 favorites]


Oh ffs.

I know, right? Whatever else he is, he's a giant A-grade two man douchecanoe.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:06 PM on December 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


The call is coming from INSIDE the Satoshi Nakamoto!
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:06 PM on December 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's Tom Cruise, guys.
posted by TrialByMedia at 4:07 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Climate realist, you mean.
posted by Jimbob at 4:08 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's Tom Cruise, guys.

You mean...... Bigend?
posted by valkane at 4:11 PM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Satoshi Nakamoto is Satoshi Kanazawa

Satoshi is the name of the main character in the Japanese version of Pokémon

Kanazawa is a city famous for curry

Video game companies like to curry favor by building hype

A video game with years of hype

HALF-LIFE 3 CONFIRMED
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:12 PM on December 8, 2015 [30 favorites]


"I know, right? Whatever else he is, he's a giant A-grade two man douchecanoe."

Wait, what does his email address have to do with anything?
posted by I-baLL at 4:17 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sigh. Okay, I wasn't going to admit this, but these allegations have sort of forced me to tip my hand.

I am Satoshi Nakamoto.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:20 PM on December 8, 2015 [25 favorites]


Wait, what does his email address have to do with anything?

Tessier-Ashpool is a reference to William Gibson's Sprawl novels.

Dude is breaking his arm patting himself on the back.
posted by murphy slaw at 4:21 PM on December 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Yes, I know what Tessier-Ashpool is a reference to. Gibson is one of my favorite novelists. Why does having an email referencing something you're a fan of make you a bad person?
posted by I-baLL at 4:22 PM on December 8, 2015


Wait, what does his email address have to do with anything?

It's cringyworthy self-aggrandizing, like calling himself Batman or Lex Luthor or something.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:23 PM on December 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


HALF-LIFE 3 CONFIRMED

*spit-take*
posted by Fizz at 4:24 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe he invented BatCoins? Apparently, that's a real thing.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:25 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


The coolest thing in the article is that huge block of bitcoins, just sitting there, untouched, like a stack of gold bars in the middle of a rainforest..... Or something.
posted by valkane at 4:27 PM on December 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Well good on him for testing his climate-change skepticism by unleashing an absurd waste of resources and monitoring the result.
posted by ckape at 4:30 PM on December 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


He sounds like the lord high king of the techbros, and even douchier than that would normally imply.

And it's not the Gibson references that make me think that he's a douche, although they don't help (it sounds like his mental maturity is barely high-school level). It's everything else. Particularly the climate change denial; it's always surprising to find someone who obviously must be smart holding an opinion so stupid.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:32 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


See, if somebody called him a douche-canoe because he's a climate change denier then I could understand that. But calling him that because his email address is a William Gibson reference? That I find weird and a not nice thing to do. Anyways, I'm off to the Matrix to finish reading the articles on my Ono Sendai Cyberspace 7.
posted by I-baLL at 4:33 PM on December 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


Dude, the maas neotek has that old thing beat.
posted by valkane at 4:34 PM on December 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


He literally signed his email “Regards, the Director of Tessier-Ashpool." That's just silly. Unless you are actually LARPing, responding to a reporter with the voice of the head of a fictional corporation is awfully juvenile.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:35 PM on December 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Dude, the maas neotek has that old thing beat.

Slamhounds are coming for you all.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:35 PM on December 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


...responding to a reporter with the voice of the head of a fictional corporation is awfully juvenile.

A fictional corporation of an elusive, unimaginably wealthy clan that looks down upon the Earth from their personal space station, where they pursue immortality. Nope, not self aggrandising at all.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:38 PM on December 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


See, if he'd just signed it director of epiphyte (2), it just would have made more sense.
posted by valkane at 4:38 PM on December 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Rereading the messages, it almost sounds like he is pretending to be a Gibsonian AI who has taken control of Tessier-Ashpool.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:42 PM on December 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Bitcoin?
More like Bit-con.

(Am I the first person to come up with that?)
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:44 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not keeping up. Which one is Keyser Soze?
posted by nfalkner at 4:50 PM on December 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Should've pretended to be Anaander Mianaai.
posted by ckape at 4:50 PM on December 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


Reading the Gizmodo article I'm now a bit more skeptical. All of the evidence / clues are so compromised and bizarre.

There are two cryptographically incontrovertible ways for someone to prove they are Satoshi Nakomoto. They could sign a document with his PGP private key, or they could spend some of the coins known to belong to Satoshi since the very beginning of Bitcoin. It's odd that Wright is teasing everyone that he is Satoshi without simply demonstrating it.
posted by Nelson at 4:51 PM on December 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Rereading the messages, it almost sounds like he is pretending to be a Gibsonian AI who has taken control of Tessier-Ashpool.

I'm sure the Turing Police will deal with it. After that Wintermute debacle, they're focused on getting a win.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:52 PM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's not that he's referencing that Gibson exists. I like Gibson. I like cyberpunk as a genre. It's the fact that he seems to have decided that he is in fact a character in a Gibson novel and is behaving accordingly. This would be just as awful if he was emailing them as Tyler Durden, or as Neo, or whatever. There's using something for your email address, and then there's signing your messages, "Regards, the Director of Tessier-Ashpool." There's having your email be batman@somedomain.com because you love Batman, and then there's signing all your emails as Bruce Wayne and pretending you're really a multimillionaire crime-fighting superhero.
posted by Sequence at 4:53 PM on December 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


So, uh...doesn't it violate some law, or some code of journalistic ethics, or something, to publicly report all of this personal correspondence without Wright's consent?

I mean, they're talking about private communications between Wright and his lawyer, Wright and his professional colleagues, etc.

Further, there's no evidence that any of these emails are authentic—as far as Wired knows, their unnamed source fabricated everything.

I mean, I don't doubt that Wright is the guy. Just sayin'.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:54 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Slamhounds? Cool. Yonderboy will be stoked, The RTGs we pried out of the last ones they sent to us are almost depleted. You ever see what happens when a titanium and carbon fiber nuclear powered dog meets a mesh net of monomolecular fullerene at barely subsonic speeds?


Whoever Satoshi really is probably smart enough to stay very, very well hidden at this point and for the foreseeable future. Not only because they have a lot of bitcoin that many bad people would very much like to have by any means necessary, but because bitcoin is the financial equivalent of, well, maybe not a nuclear bomb but some kind if weaponized financial virus that will likely eat away at almost everything that the finance industry does.

And a lot of people would probably want him dead, even if they wrongly thought that he could somehow stop the blockchain with some good old persuasion.

It is going to be very interesting to see how banks and such adapt to it. Unlike the music industry, banks are pretty good about not just adapting new technology, but pushing it. But bitcoin kind of replaces a whole lot of their actual services like title services, moving all those digital bits of money from account to account and more.

All that being said, I wonder about a master key or backdoor in the system somewhere. I don't know enough about how the blockchain really works, but it would be very, very tempting to leave some kind of hook or off button or something. But that would probably be a totally appalling concept to a die hard cryptopunk, so maybe not.
posted by loquacious at 5:03 PM on December 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Unlike the music industry, banks are pretty good about not just adapting new technology, but pushing it. But bitcoin kind of replaces a whole lot of their actual services like title services, moving all those digital bits of money from account to account and more.

And they are thrilled. It's going to speed up transactions, and likely replace a lot of legacy infrastructure with a cheaper more efficient alternative.

It may even kill the shambling corpse of SWIFT.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:11 PM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


being excited about blockchain-based ledgers is not the same thing as being excited about bitcoin
posted by murphy slaw at 5:15 PM on December 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


Rereading the messages, it almost sounds like he is pretending to be a Gibsonian AI who has taken control of Tessier-Ashpool.

Though would that be out of character for a plausible inventor of Bitcoin?
posted by acb at 5:15 PM on December 8, 2015


Satoshi Nakamoto is clearly Bruce Sterling.

Think about it.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:17 PM on December 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


And they are thrilled. It's going to speed up transactions, and likely replace a lot of legacy infrastructure with a cheaper more efficient alternative.

If it depends on burning vast amounts of electricity performing useless make-work computations, as Bitcoin does, it's going to be more expensive and less efficient. Though the banks may win* by shifting the costs and externalities onto the general public.

* in the sense that anyone wins given accelerating climate change; their financial reports will look better while financial reports are still a thing.
posted by acb at 5:18 PM on December 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


Don't you think the references to Tessier-Ashpool and Tulip are just instances of deadpan humor? It's a very nerdish thing to do, I think, speaking as one. Or did Wright do/say something that directly shows lack of self-awareness?
posted by polymodus at 5:24 PM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Satoshi Nakamoto is clearly Bruce Sterling.

well, it can't be neal stephenson - bitcoin has an ending
posted by murphy slaw at 5:24 PM on December 8, 2015 [23 favorites]


Or did Wright do/say something that directly shows lack of self-awareness?

well he did make bitcoin
posted by murphy slaw at 5:25 PM on December 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


If it depends on burning vast amounts of electricity performing useless make-work computations, as Bitcoin does, it's going to be more expensive and less efficient.

If I understand correctly, it's the blockchain idea that financial institutions are interested in. Which is something that can exist in isolation from Bitcoin and they can come up with their own implementation of it. They're not actually interested in replacing their actual transactions with sending actual current bitcoins around. That would be dumb as hell.
posted by Jimbob at 5:26 PM on December 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


Yes, Jimbob's right. Banks are interested in shared ledgers and verification and distributed infrastructure, not bitcoin as a currency. They'll take the good and leave the pointless.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:46 PM on December 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


has 5 Masters degrees in addition to his PhD.

Clearly, I'm not abusing my university employee tuition assistance program enough.
posted by pwnguin at 6:02 PM on December 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


My vote is god-tier trolling.
posted by kithrater at 6:07 PM on December 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm sure all those libertarian bitcoin fans will be happy to hear about his climate change denial.
posted by brundlefly at 6:08 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


In about ten years this is going to make an amazing Coen Brothers-style dark comedy caper film. It's a shame what will have happened to Wright, of course.
posted by The Tensor at 6:11 PM on December 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


See, if he'd just signed it director of epiphyte (2), it just would have made more sense.

There is already a blockchain-powered financial something called epiphyte.
posted by atoxyl at 6:12 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


He literally signed his email “Regards, the Director of Tessier-Ashpool." That's just silly. Unless you are actually LARPing, responding to a reporter with the voice of the head of a fictional corporation is awfully juvenile.

Yeah, but it was a reporter from WIRED magazine. He's pretty much just following their house style.
posted by straight at 6:21 PM on December 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


It would be pretty kick ass if bitcoin was an invention of Louis Rossetto.
posted by valkane at 6:29 PM on December 8, 2015


(Cuz, you know, f. Scott fitzgerald said there's no second acts.)
posted by valkane at 6:48 PM on December 8, 2015


Seeing how Bitcoin, at its best case transaction rate, could maybe have just now processing the last financial transactions from three Black Fridays ago, I think banks will still take centralized nodes and even ACH.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:55 PM on December 8, 2015


His home has just been raided by the police.
posted by Jimbob at 7:51 PM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


wtf
posted by rhizome at 8:01 PM on December 8, 2015


Satoshi Nakamoto is clearly Bruce Sterling.

Wait. I thought Bruce Sterling was William Gibson.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:14 PM on December 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


"Guardian Australia understands the raids are not related to the claims that Wright may have been involved in the creation of bitcoin, but are related to an Australian Tax Office investigation."
posted by Carillon at 8:16 PM on December 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Why doesn't that come as a surprise?
posted by Jimbob at 8:26 PM on December 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


A twist! It's the opening chapter of act two!
posted by mwhybark at 8:27 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's pretty amazing timing.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:28 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nope. It's John Cusack.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:47 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Oi! ScoMo! Reckon you could balance the budget with a couple of billion in bitcoin?"

IDEASBOOM!
posted by pompomtom at 9:18 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Guardian Australia understands the raids are not related to the claims that Wright may have been involved in the creation of bitcoin, but are related to an Australian Tax Office investigation."

Not related? I can see how any government's tax authorities would be extremely interested in 200 million dollars in bitcoin assets you might possess.

Not related indeed.
posted by el io at 10:00 PM on December 8, 2015


In the US, you might not have any tax liability until you liquidate your bitcoins. Bitcoins are apparently treated as property (not money), so if you have a billion dollars of appreciation on your bitcoins, but as long as you continue to hold them, the gains are not realized. In a ridiculous loophole, if you die while holding them, the appreciation is never taxed at all.

So Satoshi could easily have no current US tax liability related to Bitcoin, even if he was a US person.

I don't know how Australian authorities see these issues. Maybe Bitcoin holders have to mark their holdings to market.
posted by grobstein at 10:20 PM on December 8, 2015


Or Satoshi could have liquidated some of his Bitcoin wealth, haha.
posted by grobstein at 10:21 PM on December 8, 2015


I think that if he'd sold any bitcoins in the last couple of years, he'd be liable for GST. The CGT calculations I'll leave to the philosophers.
posted by pompomtom at 10:34 PM on December 8, 2015


Not related? I can see how any government's tax authorities would be extremely interested in 200 million dollars in bitcoin assets you might possess.

As bad as the ATO is at compliance, they do have levels of interest between "complete and utter disinterest" and "AFP raid".

I don't know how Australian authorities see these issues. Maybe Bitcoin holders have to mark their holdings to market.

Tax treatment of crypto-currencies in Australia – specifically bitcoin.
posted by kithrater at 11:07 PM on December 8, 2015


Wait, hold on a second.

This person's house just got raided by the police? Simply because he might have created bitcoin?

How is that not a majorly fucked up thing? That seems like US / Snowden level of disgusting. I can't believe the panache of the Australian government to just attempt to jail him, that's insane. I mean, he's only been outed for a few hours... there must be some serious international players that want "Nakamoto" gone.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 11:16 PM on December 8, 2015


How is that not a majorly fucked up thing?

I heard that they were going to deploy a suitcase nuke to take out the whole street just to be on the safe side, but the weekly chemtrail deployment was interacting weirdly with the heightened sunspots caused by global warming and so caused the bomb to fizzle. So they just decided to raid his house instead.
posted by kithrater at 11:28 PM on December 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


Supposedly it is not because of being Satoshi. But my initial reaction was the same.
posted by grobstein at 11:30 PM on December 8, 2015


I wonder how this is all going to shake out. Taking a Japanese pseudonym is certainly in keeping with his cyberpunk enthusiasm, though.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:34 PM on December 8, 2015


So - perhaps Craig Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto. But is he a mefite too?
posted by rongorongo at 12:09 AM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Reading through the ATO-related documents, they definitely seem legitimate. But, they don't have anything to do with Wright inventing Bitcoin - it's just arguing about private tax rulings and amending BASs and confirming GST exemption and so on. The "million bitcoins" is mentioned by a third-party in an off-handed manner and has nothing to do with the actual discussion, which is mostly talking about transactions of tens of thousands of bitcoins and complaining about auditors being biased.
posted by kithrater at 12:19 AM on December 9, 2015


That seems like US / Snowden level of disgusting

Look, the creator of Bitcoin is no Edward Snowden. As far as I can tell, the greatest thing Bitcoin has given the world so far is a bunch of chuckleheads on Reddit encouraging each other to get their elderly parents to invest their life savings in Bitcoin to artificially drive scarcity so they can win back the money they wasted on it when a BTC was worth $1000.

I had kinda hoped that the reason the creator of Bitcoin has remained silent and mysterious is because he had become embarrassed by the utter shitstorm of Ponzi-scheme stupidity his creation has become. If it turns out he's just another privileged libertarian tech bro who hates paying tax like a responsible adult member of society, well, I guess Bitcoin is left with no redeeming features at all.
posted by Jimbob at 12:31 AM on December 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


Banks are interested in shared ledgers and verification and distributed infrastructure, not bitcoin as a currency.

-SEC approves Overstock.com plan to issue shares on the Bitcoin blockchain :P
-Patrick Collison, Stripe
It's not completely clear what will happen with Bitcoin. Even if the probability of success is low, if the potential outcome is big enough, it's worth paying attention. The original paper on Bitcoin is the first paper I've seen that is both a CS paper and a Political Science paper. It's a cool idea. So we wanted to help move it along.
-Ethereum on BBC Click!*
-Build your own central bank
-Azure Blockchain as a Service update

It may even kill the shambling corpse of SWIFT.

Seeing how Bitcoin, at its best case transaction rate, could maybe have just now processing the last financial transactions from three Black Fridays ago, I think banks will still take centralized nodes and even ACH.

-Toward a 12-second Block Time
-Will there be more transactions per second?
-Taler for gov't: "RSA* blind signing requires a centralized mint, but avoids wasting resources on proof-of-work 'mining' the way that existing blockchain currencies do."
posted by kliuless at 12:34 AM on December 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


He has a LinkedIn page - which lists all this associations dating back to his time as a chef in the early 90s.
posted by rongorongo at 12:41 AM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Some interesting reading here: the windup of one of Wright's companies.
posted by kithrater at 12:45 AM on December 9, 2015


Look, the creator of Bitcoin is no Edward Snowden.

Though, then again, neither was Snowden (by all accounts, a Republican gun nut with a Hobbesian national-security world view out of a Tom Clancy techno-thriller, and not the cuddly Guardianista one makes him out to be).
posted by acb at 3:05 AM on December 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


This person's house just got raided by the police? Simply because he might have created bitcoin?

He got raided, but it's unclear if it was because of bitcoin. Frankly, I can't see the ATO getting its act together to raid a picnic basket in only a few hours.

I can't believe the panache of the Australian government to just attempt to jail him, that's insane.


He's not under arrest. The ATO can't arrest people, they're not cops.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:28 AM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


This latest round impacted me quite profoundly. The Newsweek expose was a Daily Mail-level debacle but this is a different kettle of fish. Will be interesting to see what unfolds!
posted by iffthen at 4:20 AM on December 9, 2015



He's not under arrest. The ATO can't arrest people, they're not cops.


D'oh! I am an idiot. The AFP, who carried out the raid with the ATO, are cops and could arrest him. But they didn't.

There's no way this raid is in response to the WIRED or Gizmodo reports - it's just too soon. The ATO and AFP must have been investigating him beforehand.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:21 AM on December 9, 2015


There's no way this raid is in response to the WIRED or Gizmodo reports - it's just too soon. The ATO and AFP must have been investigating him beforehand.

It's possible Wright may have been warned not to leave the country as part of an ongoing investigation. When today's media revealed he had done so, the ATO stepped up the timetable and had the AFP raid his premise.
posted by kithrater at 4:28 AM on December 9, 2015


Normal trolls SWAT you, God-class trolls convince the world that you're Satoshi Nakamoto, and let the world SWAT you.

For me the big question about Satoshi is what the hell is going on with the $200M+ in bitcoins that belong to Satoshi.

See, they're not actually $200M, for quite a lot of reasons... Most obvious being that the bitcoin market is too volatile to withstand a $200M cashout - For example, if you tried to cash out $3M, you'd drive the price down at least $20(~5%?), even if nobody started a panic sell. By comparison, yesterday the NYSE moved just under 4M shares of IBM yesterday,(About $534M), and the price dropped about 1% in the process.
posted by Orb2069 at 4:54 AM on December 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


That PDF kithrater linked contains a possible explanation for the raid on Wright. It's a 2014 bankruptcy document for Hotwire, a company Wright founded for "acquisition of various e-learning and e-payment software and undertaking research and development work". Part of the trigger for the insolvency was a GST refund issue involving the ATO. I didn't read it closely enough to understand what happened, but perhaps Wright was in trouble with the Australian tax authorities and set up this Satoshi thing as a smokescreen?

I'll reiterate what I said yesterday; if someone wants to prove they are Satoshi, it's really very simple for them to do so. Spending some of the original Bitcoins would be the easiest way. Whoever is Satoshi has chosen not to do that yet. (Or else some less likely explanation involving negligently losing the keys to your $200M+ treasure trove.)
posted by Nelson at 7:32 AM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I read Reddit so you don't have to. Having caught up on the discussion there, this post is a good round-up of reasons to be skeptical about Craig Wright. One of the links there is to this news article, "The Australian who may have invented Bitcoin claimed to land $54M in taxpayer-funded rebates". The legitimacy of those tax rebates is in doubt, which may explain the ATO raid.

The picture that's emerged for me is that Wright was an early Bitcoin miner, and was cagey and secretive enough that he amassed a whole lot of Bitcoin without people really knowing. Over time he's gotten more ambitious and used that stash to found a variety of Bitcoin-related enterprises, none successful. One of them has now fallen afoul of the tax authorities in Australia and he's in legal trouble. Simultaneously, in the past month or two he started doctoring web pages to create evidence that he was Satoshi. And then someone anonymous, possibly Wright himself, leaked that evidence to a couple of online press outfits. As for why, my guess is it's a Hail Marry to get himself out of trouble or else he's just odd and self-aggrandizing.

I could be wrong about all this, but for now I'm of the opinion Wright's dancing around being Satoshi is just not true. I fear Andy Greenberg and Gwern Branwen (for Wired) and Sam Biddle and Andy Cush (for Gizmodo) got played.
posted by Nelson at 7:48 AM on December 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


The screenshot from the blog has me convinced he's a troll. That blogger template ...
posted by stowaway at 8:02 AM on December 9, 2015


this post is a good round-up of reasons to be skeptical about Craig Wright.

Most of that is basically "based on what we can skim from the internet, Craig does not fit the idealization we have of our demi-god". The only real smoking gun. And even if it was proved all of his credentials are fake etc/it still doesn't prove he's not the creator.

I say this only because I find it funny. Based on what I see, I also don't believe this Craig Wright is the bitcoin creator, and is just a semi-creative con-man.
posted by mayonnaises at 9:02 AM on December 9, 2015


*the only real smoking gun is the most likely falsified PGP key.
posted by mayonnaises at 9:03 AM on December 9, 2015


Honestly, assuming he really is Satoshi, I love everything about this, and I find you all grinches for making fun of his email address.

I mean, this guy did actually change the world to some extent, and create $5 billion dollars in value out of nothing (even if I am personally somewhat dubious about the long-term viability of that specific currency). He's hurt no one, and some people claim that Bitcoin is a force for freedom and good (a claim I'm pretty dubious about but is not completely implausible).

Moreover, bitcoin might end up being more important in the future for its technology than for actually being a currency.

He has literally about a billion dollars in "cash" - bitcoin - that he's never touched. How cool is that, to be a secret billionaire and not spend the money? How un-American is that?

And this guy is a massive overachiever - with all these degrees. And yet he's managed to be completely anonymous for years - and when he is finally found out, he still treats it as a joke and has a completely ridiculous email address referencing a good SF novel.

Brilliant!

Now, there's a pretty good chance he isn't Satoshi. If so, well, less amazing, but it's still funny if he's managed to convince people he is, and it makes the bogus email address much funnier. Being a con-man is entertaining - the offensive thing about them is that they steal money. If he's just stealing people's attention, more power to him!

What about his dead friend, Kleiman? If he were Satoshi, this would explain why there's a billion in unclaimed Satoshi money... with good encryption and a strong passphrase only he knew, these coins could have died with him.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:27 AM on December 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Gwern Branwen was on metafilter before here. He even paid five dollars to post comments in the thread. His webpage is solid although this wired story is weird.
posted by bukvich at 12:00 PM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or did Wright do/say something that directly shows lack of self-awareness?

well he did make bitcoin

I am not some fanboy of bitcoin, but even I can see how such a rejoinder - to have a problem with the mere existence of an implementation of cryptocurrency - is incredibly anti-science, anti-intellectual, anti-technology. It's a lazy argument.

It reduces to claiming that all those scholarly cryptocurrency papers published in computer science journals is bad science. You'd better back that up with good reasons. A good skeptic would.
posted by polymodus at 1:32 PM on December 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Nelson, your thoughts are in line with mine. The structure of that failed business is confusing - $30 million in equity provided as bitcoin that gets mixed in with actual cash, no actual income ever recorded, employees and payroll tax not paid, and desperate attempts to get R&D tax credits and GST refunds from the ATO. It looks suspiciously like a vehicle to launder bitcoin into AUD than a company doing something.

That said, presuming that the $30 million in bitcoins for the initial equity did exist, and presuming that those are priced at July 2013 amounts - that's around 200,000 bitcoins. That is a large amount of bitcoins to be held by a hitherto unknown player.
posted by kithrater at 2:01 PM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am not some fanboy of bitcoin, but even I can see how such a rejoinder - to have a problem with the mere existence of an implementation of cryptocurrency - is incredibly anti-science, anti-intellectual, anti-technology. It's a lazy argument.

it wasn't a lazy argument, it was a lazy joke
posted by murphy slaw at 2:07 PM on December 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


It reduces to claiming that all those scholarly cryptocurrency papers published in computer science journals is bad science.

What branch of science would that be?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:25 PM on December 9, 2015


(Oh... Right... The computer kind.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:40 PM on December 9, 2015 [2 favorites]




if someone wants to prove they are Satoshi, it's really very simple for them to do so. Spending some of the original Bitcoins would be the easiest way.

If Bitcoin is anonymous, how would anyone know it is Satoshi's to turn into money?
posted by a lungful of dragon at 5:30 PM on December 9, 2015


Bitcoin isn't anonymous, it's pseudonymous. There are certain bitcoin addresses that are very likely to belong to Satoshi - these addresses were the recipients of some of the first mined bitcoins. Anyone can observe these addresses for activity. The best way for someone to prove they are Satoshi is to send bitcoins from one of these addresses.
posted by kithrater at 5:46 PM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


If Bitcoin is anonymous, how would anyone know it is Satoshi's to turn into money?

The coins aren't anonymous. The coins are highly, perfectly traceable and verifiable. That's kinda the point of Bitcoin. You can see which coins are moving to which wallets. There are services with aim to make this more difficult by splitting coins up and shuffling them around with other coins and things, but ultimately you can trace a coin back to when it was mined.

The anonymous bit is the ability to not have your personal details associated with one of those wallets, the way a bank will have your name and address and tax number associated with your account.
posted by Jimbob at 5:47 PM on December 9, 2015




Wow that PGP key article (by Sarah Jeong) is some excellent reporting. She looked at the technical details of the PGP to establish they were almost certainly backdated.
posted by Nelson at 7:01 PM on December 9, 2015


it wasn't a lazy argument, it was a lazy joke

Are you kidding me
posted by polymodus at 11:24 PM on December 9, 2015


It is going to be very interesting to see how banks and such adapt to it. Unlike the music industry, banks are pretty good about not just adapting new technology, but pushing it.

Head of Research Says R3 Open Source Blockchain Will Start Operating Within A Year - "Swanson said that member banks of R3, the fintech firm based New York leading the blockchain consortium, were interested in testing the blockchain for use cases that include trade financing, processing syndicated loans, the settlement and clearing of OTC derivatives, and marketplace lending... Using blockchain technology to help monitor global financial systems for systemic risk is another application that R3 has been exploring."
  • Systemically Important Ledger Systems?
  • The 20th century underpinnings of the current “closed ledger” financial system are inefficient and unstable. At present, centralized third parties authenticate financial information in generally three-day settlement timeframes that add undue risk, cost and volatility to the marketplace. The 2008 financial crisis revealed that a portion of the recordkeeping infrastructure of the multi-trillion dollar swaps market was recorded on handwritten tickets faxed nightly to the back offices of market counterparties.22

    Distributed open ledgers have the potential to revolutionize modern financial ecosystems.23 Unlike current settlement processes, distributed ledgers use open, decentralized, consensus-based authentication protocols.24 They allow people “who have no particular confidence in each other [to] collaborate without having to go through a neutral central authority.”25 Distributed ledgers will have enormous implications for financial markets in payments, banking, securities settlement, title recording, cyber security26 and the process of collateral management that is made infinitely more complex by new regulations.27 Open ledgers may make possible new “smart” securities and derivatives that can value themselves in real time, automatically calculate and perform margin payments and even terminate themselves in the event of a counterparty default.28

    Enormous resources are being invested in developing the distributed open ledger known as the blockchain. Over two dozen major global banks have joined together in a consortium to build a framework for using blockchain technology in markets.29 The London Stock Exchange, CME Group, Euroclear, Societe Generale and UBS have set up the Post Trade Distributed Ledger Working Group to look into how blockchain technology can be used in clearing, settlement and reporting of trades.30

    The Bank of England has called the blockchain the “first attempt at an ‘internet of finance’”31 with the potential to de-centralize legal recordkeeping the same way the Internet de-centralized data and information. This transformation will not come without consequences, however, including a greatly disruptive impact on the human capital that supports the recordkeeping of contemporary financial markets. On the other hand, the blockchain will help reduce some of the enormous cost of the increased financial system infrastructure32 required by new laws and regulations, including Dodd-Frank.
  • BIS Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures: Digital currencies (pdf)
  • The distributed ledger technology underlying many digital currency schemes could have a much broader application beyond payments. Decentralised mechanisms that exchange value based on a distributed ledger technology alter the basic setup of aggregation and netting on which many FMIs [financial market infrastructures] rely. In particular, it is conceivable that distributed ledgers could have an impact on the pledging of collateral or on the registration of shares, bonds, derivatives trades and other assets. The use of distributed ledgers may also induce changes in trading, clearing and settlement as they could foster disintermediation of traditional service providers in various markets and infrastructures. These changes may result in a potential impact on FMIs beyond retail payment systems, such as large-value payment systems, central securities depositories, securities settlement systems or trade repositories. The development of “smart” contracts based on distributed ledger technology capable of executing payments under certain conditions may create the possibility of making variation margin payments on an individual contract basis. This could significantly alter how bilateral margining and clearing works today, with net positions and collateral pools.
  • Avoiding the pointless blockchain project: "[Blockchains] make sense for databases that are shared by multiple writers who don't entirely trust each other, and who modify that database directly [and] where there is some interaction [ed note: dependence?] between the transactions created by these writers."
  • Blockchains are overhyped. There, I said it. From Sibos to Money 20/20 to cover stories of The Economist and Euromoney, everyone seems to be climbing aboard the blockchain wagon... You see, a large proportion of these incoming projects have nothing to do with blockchains at all. Here’s how it plays out. Big company hears that blockchains are the next big thing. Big company finds some people internally who are interested in the subject. Big company gives them a budget and tells them to go do something blockchainy. Soon enough they come knocking on our door, waving dollar bills, asking us to help them think up a use case. Say what now?

    As for those who do have a project in mind, what’s the problem? In many cases, the project can be implemented perfectly well using a regular relational database. You know, big iron behemoths like Oracle and SQL Server, or for the more open-minded, MySQL and Postgres. So let me start by setting things straight: If your requirements are fulfilled by today’s relational databases, you’d be insane to use a blockchain.
  • Central Bank Digital Currency (png; via) - "A modernised monetary transmission system, based on real-time big data analysis through Blockchain, could allow the government to balance the economy more efficiently and systematically."
  • Bitcoin and central banking
  • My own recommendation is for central banks to consider offering digital money services (possibly even a cryptocurrency) at the retail and wholesale level. There is no reason why, in principle, a central bank could not offer online accounts, the same way the U.S. Treasury presently does (www.treasurydirect.gov). These accounts would obviously not have to be insured. They would provide firms with a safe place to manage their cash without resorting to the banking or shadow banking sector. They would give monetary policy an additional instrument--the ability to pay interest on low-denomination money (possibly at a negative rate). To the extent paper money is displaced, there would be large cost savings as well.

    It's hard (for me) to see what the downsides are in having a central bank supply digital money. Critics might argue that it leaves people exposed to potentially poor monetary policy. This may be true and, for these people, currency substitutes should be available (including Bitcoin). In terms of payments, critics might argue that central bank accounts will be permissioned accounts, requiring the release of personal information, application efforts, that KYC restrictions will apply (so not censorship resistant) and so on. To address these concerns, a central bank could go one step further and issue a cryptocurrency (Fedcoin) offered at a fixed exchange rate where payments are cleared using a Bitcoin-inspired anonymous communal consensus algorithm. I don't think we can expect anything like this in the near future, but it is technologically possible. Of course, people will complain that Fedcoin will inspire illicit trade, etc. But again, the same is true of regular central bank issued cash.
  • Fedcoin—how banks can survive blockchains[*]
  • If the Fedcoin took off, it would appear to be the death knell for credit card providers and deposit-taking institutions. Banks would have two options to avoid economic obsolescence. The first would be to transition toward a pure investment banking strategy, financed entirely via equity and long-term debt raised from savers aware of the risk they were taking. Indeed, this is the model favoured by neo-classical economists harking back to the ideas of Irving Fisher.

    A second option would be to attract Fedcoin deposits by providing services such as verification for know-your-customer and anti-money-laundering rules or secure digital wallets or even just the most user-friendly apps. Banks could compete for Fedcoin deposits by issuing their own blockchains, at par with Fedcoin. Deutsche Bank, for example, could issue dbCoin, which customers use to settle transactions with any counterparty, much like a digital chequebook. Banks would guarantee convertibility of their digital currencies into Fedcoin, and central banks offer clearing and settlement facilities.

    This brings us full circle back to today’s system, but with a couple of important exceptions. For starters, the difference between the monetary base and bank-created, branded money would be considerably clearer. More important, perhaps, the technological obsolescence of deposit-taking institutions engenders greater economic competitiveness. The banking sector would no longer be rewarded for processing payments or managing current accounts. It would have to compete for deposits by offering better services and ultimately greater responsibility for the money it creates.
  • Are Banks Destined To Become The Next “Dumb Pipes”?[*]
  • The telcos hate the term “dumb pipes” — and for good reason. They are being relegated to the common conduits through which meaningful communications and commerce take place. But telcos won’t go away overnight because there’s still a lot of value in the physical network infrastructure and cell towers they built through decades of investment.

    Similarly, “unbundled” banks won’t go away overnight; there’s still a lot of value in the intra-bank money transfer networks and the depository role that banks are uniquely allowed to play in the U.S. economy. However, over time, traditional banks that fail to dramatically reinvent themselves for modern consumers will find themselves playing the role of a simple inbox for depository funds and pipes that move the money to other financial services providers who will increasingly influence consumers’ financial lives.
  • Introducing the R3 Technical Leadership Team: "If we aspire to reduce cost, free up capital, improve controls and enable innovation in finance and beyond, we need to build our vision on more than hype and hope. So I’ve gone back to basics: what properties does a technology platform need to possess if it is going to enable the world’s banks – and other firms – to deploy shared platforms to record, manage and report on their contractual agreements with each other and with their customers? What is the irreducible set of functional requirements we must provide? What are the non-negotiable non-functional requirements?" (they're hiring ;)
not bad pseudonymous person (or group!)
posted by kliuless at 11:42 PM on December 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Interesting tweet from Leah Goodman, the Newsweek reporter who wrote that awful "I found Satoshi Nakomoto!" article in 2014.
We all got it. It was being shopped around fairly aggressively this autumn.
Includes a screenshot of an email from Nov 12 saying "satoshi is Dr Craig wright in australia and he is an asshole..." with a bunch of attachments of documents that are presumably attempts at proof. She tweeted she didn't follow up because she doesn't work from anonymous sources.

Anyway it sounds like someone last month decided to blow up Craig Wright. I speculated above it might have been Wright himself, based mostly on his comments in the Wired and Gizmodo articles that sound like he was trying to hint he was Satoshi. But the chatter on Reddit today is it might have been related to an extortion attempt on Wright.

This story is so compromised at this point it's hardly worth following.
posted by Nelson at 8:12 AM on December 10, 2015


This story is so compromised at this point it's hardly worth following.

I think there's a fascinating story of a scam gone wrong to be told from all of this, but it is likely going to be a while before it makes its way through the courts and can be publicly told. At least we got some amusement out of yet more media being fooled by chasing the identity of Satoshi.
posted by kithrater at 5:42 PM on December 10, 2015


I think there's a fascinating story of a scam gone wrong to be told from all of this,
And some interesting side notes too:
1. If Satoshi is alive then attention from the formidable trifecta of journalists, governments and tax authorities is a pretty effective antidote to any kudos which might be derived from coming clean.
2. Craig Wright - at least as he presents himself to the world - is an individual who appear to have built up more qualifications than anybody I've ever seen. His LinkedIn page (linked above but now no longer public) has him as a chef, pastor, classicist, and expert in just a bewildering range of fields in economics and computer science. It never mentions Bitcoin however.
posted by rongorongo at 3:52 AM on December 11, 2015


Per Gizmodo he appears to have overstated his academic credentials. Two masters, but no PhDs.
posted by humanfont at 7:45 PM on December 11, 2015


New Yorker: The Bizarre Saga of Craig Wright, the Latest “Inventor of Bitcoin”. Nothing really new here, but an excellent civilian-friendly writeup of the skepticism.
posted by Nelson at 9:00 AM on December 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Either Wright invented bitcoin, or he's a brilliant hoaxer who very badly wants us to believe he did."

Three days later, new clues point to that second, strange scenario.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:30 PM on December 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not exactly "new" clues. All of this could have been checked by Wired prior to running the story. But, you know, journalism is hard so let's just reprint what this anonymous source is telling us over email.
posted by kithrater at 5:04 PM on December 12, 2015


To be fair to Wired, the initial article called out a lot of the compromised evidence and explicitly said it could all be a hoax. They just decided to go with believing the story, which in retrospect was a mistake. I thought the second followup article (also by Andy Greenberg) was excellent and responsible journalism.
posted by Nelson at 8:29 AM on December 13, 2015


The New Yorker article cites this summation from user "Qantus" on this forum. Quantus writes:
This is what I think happened. This dickheads been scamming people for years and one of his marks found out after getting scammed and hacked his dumb ass and outed him to the world and the Bitcoin community as payback. And he was such a egomaniac that he probability lied to his family and friends and even his wife telling them that he was the real SN. Even now he wants to be SN so bad he can't stop. This guy is living in his own made up fantasy.

As scams go, conning people on the basis of an insinuation that you are a super-smart and super wealthy person who doesn't want to have their identity rumbled - is as old as the the hills. Or as old as "Some like it Hot" at least.
posted by rongorongo at 9:17 AM on December 13, 2015


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