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From 0.2 To 50 Percent – Find Out Which Names Are Among The Most Likely To Have Been Behind The Creation Of Bitcoin
In an age when many consider privacy to be a dated concept, Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto has managed to conceal his or her true identity for almost a decade now. In fact, it’s very likely that Satoshi Nakamoto is simply a pseudonym used by the individual (or individuals) behind the creation of the world’s first cryptocurrency.
Our Blockchain WTF exclusive series Finding Satoshi Nakamoto featured some folks who could very well be the elusive Bitcoin creator. Moreover, there are also several other names that have been commonly associated with the creation of bitcoin, which we have yet to cover. However, this still begs the question; what are the chances that any of these people had a hand in inventing the most valuable digital currency on the market?
In an effort to find the answer (and hopefully have a bit of fun along the way), we’ll take a look at 10 Satoshi suspects and (using percentages) assess each individuals’ chance of actually being Satoshi Nakamoto.
Here we go!
10. Shinichi Mochizuki:
Mochizuki is a world-renowned mathematician who specializes in number theory and geometry. He is originator to the branch of modern number theory called anabelian geometry.
The Case For: In 2013, an American academic named Ted Nelson claimed that he believed that Mochizuki was Satoshi Nakamoto. Nelson’s claim was based largely on the facts that the mathematician was a genius and spoke English well enough to have written the correspondence associated with the Bitcoin creator.
The Case Against: The Japanese mathematician has no documented experience as a software developer or any apparent motive to want to create an alternative form of currency like bitcoin. Moreover, he has publicly stated that he is not Satoshi Nakamoto.
Conclusion: There isn’t really any reason to think Shinichi Mochizuki created Bitcoin or even possess the skill set required to have done so. Saying there is a 0.2% chance that Mochizuki is Satoshi Nakamoto, based on Nelson’s accusation, is probably being too generous.
9. Elon Musk:
Business magnate and investor Elon Musk is easily the most high-profile figure on our list. He is the founder and CEO of big named corporations like SpaceX and Tesla. Musk is also the guy who wants to establish a human colony of Mars. The ambitious entrepreneur has been referred to as a modern day Benjamin Franklin.
The Case For: As blogger Sahil Gupta wrote, “The 2008 Bitcoin paper was written by someone with a deep understanding of economics and cryptography. Elon had a background in econ and wrote production-level internet software for Zip2 and X.com / Paypal.”
Moreover, Bitcoin’s source code was written in a programming language known as C++, which Musk is very familiar with. In fact, C++ is the programming language used by employees at SpaceX.
The Case Against: Musk flat out denied being the man behind the creation of Bitcoin and claimed to own only .25 BTC – which he’s said to have misplaced.
Moreover, an AI called EMMA reviewed papers written by both Musk and Nakamoto. The robot concluded, based on their writing, that they were not the same person. For those unfamiliar, “Emma uses a self-learning algorithm that processes natural language and stylometry techniques to work out an author’s unique style. It then compares two texts based on 50 parameters that define a user’s writing technique. In-house tests show Emma is around 85 percent accurate, the highest result achieved by engineers.”
While he may or may not have the skills required to have created Bitcoin, he’s shown minimal interest in cryptocurrency thus far, and there is no evidence (even circumstantial) that would suggest Musk was responsible for creating Bitcoin.
Conclusion: We are talking about Elon Musk here, meaning nothing is entirely out of the realm of possibility, so there’s maybe a 1% chance that he’s Satoshi.
8. The Satoshi Bot:
The Satoshi Bot is the product a conspiracy theory which suggests bitcoin was created by artificial intelligence developed (and controlled) by the US government.
The Case For: If Satoshi is a robot that’s being hidden by a government entity, it would explain why no one has found it. This would also provide some clarity as to why Nakamoto hasn’t touched any of the 1 million bitcoins he is believed to own – as AIs aren’t known for being materialistic.
The Case Against: Besides the fact that the whole premise is borderline absurd, it’s unclear why the US (or any other) government would want to create something as potentially disruptive as Bitcoin. Not to mention, there isn’t the slightest piece of evidence to support the AI theory.
Conclusion: In all likelihood, the Satoshi Bot only exists in the minds of some very imaginative conspiracy theorists. That being said, since we don’t want completely alienate readers who enjoy wearing tin foil hats from time to time, we’ll reluctantly concede that there is a 1% chance that Satoshi Nakamoto is a robot.
7. Dr. Vili Lehdonvirta:
Dr. Vili Lehdonvirta is a Finnish economic sociologist whose topics of interest include the design and socioeconomic impacts of digital marketplaces and platforms. He is also an Associate Professor at the Oxford Internet Institute.
The Case For: Lehdonvirta’s name entered the Satoshi conversation when a British computer scientist named Micheal Clear (who we will cover a bit later) told a reporter for the New Yorker that the Finnish professor was the man responsible for creating Bitcoin. Prior to becoming a teacher, he was a video game programmer who studied virtual currencies. The doctor was also a member of Electronic Frontier Finland – a group that fights for online privacy.
The Case Against: At the time of Bitcoin’s creation, Lehdonvirta had no experience in cryptography or working with C++. Satoshi Nakamoto seems to be an expert in both areas.
Conclusion: While he’s clearly a pretty smart guy, there is a less than 3% chance that Dr. Vili Lehdonvirta created bitcoin, without any formal cryptography or C++ experience.
6. Craig Steven Wright:
In 2015, an Australian computer programmer named Craig Wright made headlines by claiming that he was Satoshi Nakamoto. The Aussie businessman had spent a good portion of his early career working with information technology and as a security consultant. He also claimed to have a Ph.D. in computer science.
The Case For: On paper, Wright would seem to have the background required to create the popular digital currency. Moreover, he is the only person on our list, who has actually claimed to be Nakamoto. His claim was supported by Bitcoin foundation creator Jon Matonis. Wright was also the CEO of a company that was trying to start the world’s first bitcoin-based bank –so he definitely has a genuine interest in cryptocurrency.
The Case Against: In Truth, Wright has become an extremely polarizing character in the crypto community. He appears to have exaggerated his academic credentials – having never received a PH. D in computer science as he had previously stated. Furthermore, some of the claims made by his businesses have also come under scrutiny. It has been suggested that Craig Wright falsely identify himself as Satoshi, in order to gain control of the bitcoin-related patents and sell them for a substantial sum of money.
Conclusion: There are a lot of red flags when it comes to Wright’s assertion, with some security researchers even referring to his claim as an outright “scam.” With so many questions surrounding his credibility, there is roughly a 5% chance that Craig Steven Wright is indeed Satoshi Nakamoto.
5. Margaret Runchey:
There is a great deal of mystery surrounding the individual known as Margaret Runchey. Her background, current location, and pretty much everything else is unknown at this time. Other than a few very interesting patents, there is virtually no information out there on Margaret Runchey.
The Case For: Back in 2007, Runchey patented what was known as the Model of Everything. As we covered in our Finding Satoshi Series, “Much like Bitcoin, Raunchy’s model features a chain of ownership (blockchain) “which allows for assets, smart contracts, and miners to secure the network to all play their role in the Model of Everything.” In fact, devices which sound an awful lot like offline wallets are even mentioned as a part of the concept.
As anyone who is familiar with Bitcoin and blockchain technology can see, there are definitely some similarities.”
The Case Against: While the similarities between the Model of Everything and the technology behind Bitcoin are certainly noteworthy, it doesn’t prove that Runchey is, in fact, Satoshi Nakamoto and it’s all we really have to go on. Unless more information about this elusive figure becomes available, it’s too difficult to make a solid case that she is the person behind bitcoin.
Conclusion: Due primarily to lack of good info, it’s hard to give the Model of Everything creator more than a 10% chance of being Satoshi.
4. Dorian Nakamoto:
Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto is a California-based physicist who has previously worked on classified defense projects and helped innovate technology for financial information service companies.
The Case For: In 2014 a Newsweek reporter named Leah McGrath, sought out to discover the true identity of the person responsible for creating Bitcoin. McGrath considered Dorian Nakamoto, whose birth name was Satoshi Nakamoto, to be a person of interest in his search. When the reporter asked the physicist about Bitcoin, he replied, “ 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.” The response created a media frenzy, and many folks thought the mystery had been solved.
Besides the statement and having worked in the financial industry, Dorian Nakamoto is said to be a libertarian who is wary of governments and taxation – making him the sort of person who would be interested in creating something like Bitcoin.
Furthermore, the fact that Dorian Nakamoto lived just two blocks away from Hal Finney (the man who received the first Bitcoin transaction) is also noteworthy.
The Case Against: Dorian Nakamoto was 64 at the time he was questioned by McGrath and English is not his first language. The scientist claimed that he misunderstood the question and thought the reporter was asking about the classified defense projects he had previously worked on.
Moreover, folks who have analyzed the Bitcoin creators writing believe he is a native English speaker, which as previously stated, Dorian Nakamoto is not. Not to mention, if the crypto creator wanted to keep his identity concealed, it’s unlikely would use his actual birth name when communicating with the public.
Lastly, after the story claiming the Californian was the man behind Bitcoin surfaced, the online account associated with the creation of the world’s most famous cryptocurrency became active again for the 1st five in roughly five years. The person behind the account simply stated, “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.”
Conclusion: In all likelihood, the Dorian Nakamoto incident was the result of a miscommunication. That being said, his background, name, and political ideology make him a person of interest, with about a 10% chance of being the guy who created Bitcoin.
3. Michael Clear:
Michael Clear is an Irish computer scientist who is well versed in both cryptography and economics.
The Case For: As a Joshua Davis, a contributor for the New Yorker who believed Clear might be Satoshi, so eloquently put it, “In 2008 he was named the top computer science undergrad at Trinity. The next year he was hired by Allied Irish Banks to improve its currency-trading software, and he co-authored an academic paper on peer-to-peer technology. The paper employed British spelling. Clear was well versed in economics, cryptography and peer-to-peer networks.
He had been programming computers since he was ten and he could code in a variety of languages, including C++ the language of bitcoin.”
Davis also added, that when confronted Clear about being the man behind Bitcoin, “He laughed, but didn’t respond. There was an awkward silence.”
On paper, Clear looks like the sort of fellow who would be behind the creation of the best known digital currency on the planet.
The Case Against: Clear has publicly denied being the man behind the Satoshi Nakamoto Pseudonym stating, “ I’m not Satoshi” he told Davis. “But even if I was I wouldn’t tell you.”
The Irishman also claims that he believes Dr. Vili Lehdonvirta is Satoshi.
Conclusion: Despite his public denial and claim that Lehdonvirta is the man who created Bitcoin, based on his resume alone, there is 35-40% chance Michael Clear could be Nakamoto.
2. Hal Finney:
Finney is a cryptographer who had been involved in Cypherpunk movement since the early-1990s. For those unfamiliar, Cypherpunks are activists, who advocate the use of privacy-enhancing technology to usher in a new era of social and political change. Over the course of his career, Finney worked for a privacy software company and also developed the first reusable proof of work system. Sadly, Hal Finney passed away in 2014, following a lengthy battle with ALS.
The Case For: Finney is the only person on our list who is known to have had direct contact with Satoshi Nakamoto. The Cypherpunk also has the distinction of being the man who received the very 1st Bitcoin transaction from the individual behind the Nakamoto alias.
Moreover, the cryptographer has experience developing proof of work systems similar to the Bitcoin blockchain and his Cypherpunk roots suggest he was the type of guy who would appreciate the privacy the technology behind Bitcoin could provide its users.
Back in 2014, a Forbes columnist named Andy Greenburg had a writing analyst review samples from both Finney and Nakamoto. The analyst claimed that Finney’s writing style bore the closest resemblance to Nakamoto’s that he had seen.
The Case Against: Finney denied being the one behind Bitcoin’s creation.
Conclusion: When you look at the facts, there’s at least a 50% chance that Hal Finney and Satoshi Nakamoto were one and the same.
1. Nick Szabo:
Szabo is a computer scientist and cryptographer who known for his research in both digital currency as well as digital contracts. He is arguably best known for creating the phrase and concept of “smart contracts” – a major feature used in cryptocurrency. Like Hal Finney, Szabo was also involved in the Cypherpunk movement back in the 1990s.
The Case For: Perhaps the most compelling piece evidence linking Szabo to the Nakamoto pseudonym is his association with bit gold. In 1998, Szabo designed a mechanism for decentralized digital currency, which came to be known as bit gold. While it was never implemented, bit gold has referred to as “a direct precursor to the Bitcoin architecture.”
Szabo’s involvement in the Cypherpunk movement combined with his well-documented skills as both a computer scientist and cryptographer, make him someone with both the motive and means to have created Bitcoin.
Financial author and researcher Dominic Frisby had the following to say about Szabo being the creator of Bitcoin, “I’ve concluded there is only one person in the whole world that has the sheer breadth but also the specificity of knowledge and it is this chap.”
The Case Against: Nick Szabo has publicly stated that he is not Satoshi Nakamoto.
Conclusion: If there were Vegas odds on who was behind bitcoin’s creation, Szabo would likely be the favorite. There is at least a 50% chance that he’s our guy.
Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of bitcoin, is quite the curious mystery. If you are interested in learning about more possibilities of who is behind the bitcoin creation, check out the rest of our series, Finding Satoshi Nakamoto. And to learn more about Bitcoin, head to our resource page. If you’d like to check out buying cryptocurrencies, we got you covered there too!