The mystery surrounding the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, creator of Bitcoin, has been entertaining and somewhat frustrating to observe. When that reporter found a random guy with the name Nakamoto and turned his life upside down, it was probably peak “we have no idea who this is” and yet it is still frustrating to see from time to time bright people say, “Aha! It is x!” with weak evidence.
Satoshi wanted to stay anonymous, and for good reason. If Bitcoin worked, everyone would be after him1. Personally I didn’t adopt Bitcoin sooner out of fear of alternative money laws in the US, so imagine creating an alternative money! Then, as it grows more successful, the early mining activity attributed to Satoshi is worth enough to be competitive with the wealthiest individuals in the world. The wealthiest people have “security teams.” Satoshi, I guarantee, does not have nor want a security team.
A few years ago I myself was curious so I looked at the genesis of Bitcoin. Based on that story I chose one person and compared that person’s code with the code that Satoshi Nakamoto initially distributed. Next I checked that person’s writing with Satoshi’s writing. The code and writing were very similar. The two people’s characters were similar. What was different? Well, if you were going to try to conceal your identity you’d want good opsec but you’d also want to be good at counterintelligence. Since Satoshi has fooled almost everyone23, I’d say he did those things well.
I won’t disclose who I think Satoshi is directly. What’s the point of unveiling who it is? If the person wants others to know directly that he is Satoshi then he will do so. In fact, I think one day he may. Here I will only make three claims: Satoshi is one person, he is still alive, and he identifies as “he.” I was wrong in my estimation of the identity of Startup L Jackson4 so certainly I could be wrong about Satoshi. But for fun here is a hash of a unique sentence stating his identity:
Yes, I’m making a claim on gender here. ↩︎
Amusingly, Gwern touches on it in confusion. ↩︎
There are a few randos who make claims, but without evidence. ↩︎
I thought it was Hunter Walk, but to be fair I didn’t read through their source code. Also a bit different circumstance: SLJ was a persona created by Thompson and Satoshi merely applies techniques to conceal true identity. ↩︎