Craig Steven Wright, an Australian entrepreneur, has officially laid claim to the “creator of bitcoin” mantle. Now, the question is: Can that claim stand up to the scrutiny of skeptics?
Wright claims that stepping out now — as opposed to a little over a year ago when Wired directly asked Wright if he was the creator of bitcoin — was to “dispel any negative myths and fears” about bitcoin.
“I cannot allow the misinformation that has been spread to impact the future of bitcoin,” Wright noted.
But can Wright be who he says he is? Or prove it? That wicket is proving to be a bit sticky, since technical experts seem to agree that the evidence Wright has presented so far isn’t proof that he is, in fact, the real Satoshi Nakamoto.
“It would take the real Satoshi about five minutes to provide conclusive proof to the entire bitcoin community, if the real Satoshi wanted to do that,” said Joseph Bonneau, a researcher at the Applied Crypto Group at Stanford University, to The New York Times.
Others noted that whether or not Wright’s claim is true does not matter, since bitcoin is bigger than its founder these days.
“Satoshi was more than a name. It was a concept, a secret, a team, a vision. Now, Satoshi lives on in a new form — changed,” another bitcoin expert told NYT. “Much of the secret is gone, but the vision is still there.”
So, what will the reveal mean, if it turns out to be true? So far, it has been to depress the price of bitcoin; upon Wright’s announcement, bitcoin lost $10 in value.
“I didn’t take the decision lightly to make my identity public,” Wright said in a news release, “and I want to be clear that I’m doing this because I care so passionately about my work.”
Gavin Andresen, who succeeded Satoshi Nakamoto as the lead bitcoin developer, believes Wright’s claim.
“After spending time with him, I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt: Craig Wright is Satoshi,” Andresen wrote. “During our meeting, I saw the brilliant, opinionated, focused, generous — and privacy-seeking — person that matches the Satoshi I worked with six years ago.”
But the bitcoin community was not in consensus.
Another of the leading developers working on bitcoin’s basic software, Gregory Maxwell, said that the evidence presented by Wright was not enough to convince him. “It demonstrates no connection between this person and bitcoin’s creation,” Maxwell wrote in an email to NYT.
A programmer who is in charge of the bitcoin discussion boards, Michael Marquardt, on the other hand, remains staunchly unpersuaded.
“Altogether, the weight of the new evidence tips the scales very little, and the scales were already stacked against him being Satoshi,” said Jeremy Clark, an assistant professor at the Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering in Montreal.