Craig Steven Wright has claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the founder of Bitcoin and he may not be lying. The Australian computer scientist is probably telling the truth. He is just not telling the whole truth.
Satoshi Nakamoto is most likely a pseudonym for a group and not for a single individual. Because the creation of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency required an elite level of cryptography and computer expertise that you do not come across every day.
Craig David Wright was probably linked to that group. But many experts believe he lacks the mental competence to be the real Satoshi Nakamoto.
This post looks at available data out there and indulges in a healthy dose of speculation into the early days of Bitcoin.
The Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto
For Bitcoin users and computer enthusiasts around the world, the name Satoshi Nakamoto is as legendary as it gets. Full of brilliance, mystery, clout, cunning, and secrecy.
So, when Dr. Craig Steven Wright claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto in 2015, cryptocurrency experts called him a fraud. Because he seemed not to possess those pristine qualities ascribed to the legend.
Bitcoin was a brave undertaking, even considering its ties to the Internet underworld. A clever way to finally move dollars around without the consent or knowledge of Big Brother.
To release Bitcoin meant to challenge the powers that be. To stop the theft of public funds through inflation of fiat money. Launching Bitcoin was an attack on western capitalism and inflationary central banking.
The cryptocurrency is designed against inflation and this makes it attractive as a store of value. But its greatest feature remains the ingenuity invested in its development. And it is this ingenuity, that forms the foundation of Satoshi Nakamoto’s legacy.
The Case For Craig Wright
It all started in 2015 when Wired and Gizmodo received documents suggesting that an Australian entrepreneur could be Satoshi Nakamoto. They investigated the reports and published their findings here and here, creating lots of skepticism back then.
Then Craig Wright himself came forward to also proclaim that he is the mighty Satoshi. And over time, many developments arose to support his claim. These developments include testimonies from fellow developers and a court case.
Here they are:
- Gavin Andresen – He was the former chief scientist of the Bitcoin organization, the man that Satoshi handed everything over to. He communicated with him the most in the past and should recognize Satoshi better than others.
He posted in May 2016 that he believed Craig Wright to be Satoshi Nakamoto after he privately signed a message for him. He has also been captured on video confirming Craig as Satoshi. This turned the rest of the community against him, revoking his Bitcoin Core commit access on GitHub. He also made another post in November 2016 where he regretted ever being involved in the whole mess.
- Jon Matonis – He is a digital currency and Bitcoin advocate, who had been in contact with Satoshi Nakamoto in the early days. He made this post in May 2016 stating his belief that Craig Steven Wright is Nakamoto.
- Kevin Healey – Coming from the Ethereum community, Kevin Healey also stated his belief in Craig Wright being Satoshi and recently released this YouTube video to mixed reactions.
- The Court Case – In February 2018 Ira Kleiman filed a court case against Craig Wright and on behalf of his deceased brother Dave Kleiman. He accused Wright of cheating his brother, who was his partner in W&K Info Defense Research, LLC.
Both men supposedly used this company to research and create Bitcoin, as well as to mine the currency. This resulted in over 1.1 million Bitcoins supposedly held in a trust by Craig Wright. So, Kleiman is suing Wright for half of it, which supposedly belongs to his brother, Dave. You can read more here.
The Case Against Craig Wright
Experts in the crypto community are pissed off by Craig Wright’s claims and even recent actions, leading many to call him a fraud and sweep him under the rug.
There is good reason for that, given that these are expert coders with above-average intelligence. It is necessary, therefore to consider their views and analyze this issue from their perspectives.
Here are the major arguments against Craig Wright:
- Identity-based Cryptography – Asymmetric encryption is an amazing concept, even when the majority of Bitcoin users do not know what it is. Asymmetric encryption is the process of encrypting and decrypting a message or document with two different sets of keys. And it has numerous advantages because one key is made public while the other key remains private.
If you encrypt or sign a message with the public key, which everyone knows, then only the person in possession of the private key can decrypt it. At least, theoretically. Similarly, if you can decrypt a message with the public key, then it could only have been encrypted by the possessor of the private key.
Satoshi Nakamoto has a known GnuPG public key and Craig Wright claims to have the private key. But he has refused to sign a single message with this private key, so the Bitcoin community can verify that he is truly Satoshi Nakamoto. This raised lots of suspicions because it goes against the rules of identity-based cryptography, the foundation of Bitcoin’s success.
- The Genesis Block – Craig Wright reportedly proved to a few people that he owns the private key linked to Bitcoin’s Block #1, which was used in the first-ever transaction on the blockchain. However, industry experts remind us that Block #1 is not the first block on the chain. Rather, in line with C-coding philosophy, the chain starts at Block #0, which was manually coded by the real Satoshi Nakamoto.
Bitcoin’s Block #0 was mined in January 2009 and generated a base reward of 50 BTC to this address. While that original 50 BTC could never be spent, the address has received over 18 BTC over the years and they are spendable.
The argument is this: Assuming there were many collaborators on Bitcoin, the real and brilliant Satoshi Nakamoto must have coded this Genesis Block and equally maintained the payment address. So, all Craig Wright has to do, is to move some of this new 18 BTC to prove himself. He could alternatively just sign a message with the private key for that address.
- MIT License & Recent Threats – Satoshi Nakamoto released Bitcoin under the MIT License, which grants free permission to any user to do whatever the heck he likes with the software, as long as the copyright notice is included in all copies of it.
So, when Craig Wright’s lawyers started threatening websites that hosted the Bitcoin whitepaper for copyright infringement in January 2021, many believed he was either joking or just high. So, stakeholders scrambled to dare him by also hosting the PDF document.
- Base58 – Craig Wright once asked this silly question that he should have known its answer if he coded Bitcoin. Because Satoshi invented Base58 by modifying Base64 to remove similar-looking letters like 0, O, I, l, +, and /.
- The Second Coming – Satoshi Nakamoto willingly gave up control of Bitcoin, including coding and community management. So, why come back now? What’s the deal with the BitcoinSV blockchain and trying to get everyone to switch to it?
Is Craig Wright Satoshi Nakamoto?
You should slowly realize the validity of both camp’s arguments by now. Craig Steven Wright must surely be Satoshi Nakamoto, but he is also not him. He was surely the guy who communicated through email, but he does not seem to have coded Bitcoin.
This creates a serious case of cognitive dissonance that is tearing the cryptocurrency world apart.
The solution is simple. There is no single Satoshi Nakamoto. Rather, there are many Satoshi Nakamotos. The Bitcoin project started as a collaboration between computer- and crypto-geeks. And Craig Wright was probably one of them. He is probably the guy that handled most of the communication with the pseudonym.
So, Craig Wright is Satoshi because he was part of it. But he is not the only Satoshi.
So, who are these other geeks?
Other Potential Satoshis
Craig Wright said he was ‘the main part of it’. So, who are the rest? First in line is Hal Finney, then there is Dave Kleiman. Both men were wheelchair-bound. Kleiman passed on in 2013, while Finney passed in 2014. One year later, and Craig enters the limelight.
- Hal Finney – The cryptocurrency term is rooted in cryptography and Hal Finney was a top cryptography expert. He was the second employee in the PGP Corporation, after Phil Zimmerman, the original author of PGP (Pretty Good Privacy).
Finney also developed the concept of a reusable proof of work, based on Hashcash. This was the closest digital token technology before Bitcoin, which is also based on Hashcash. Their major difference was that Bitcoin used a P2P distributed network to prevent double-spending.
Asides from that, Hal Finney also had a neighbor called Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. You can imagine. And he was the second known individual to use the Bitcoin software after Satoshi, as well as the recipient of the first-ever Bitcoin transaction. Again from Satoshi Nakamoto.
- Dave Kleiman – He was a brilliant computer forensics expert and amazing coder. Dave Kleiman was named U.S. Army soldier of the year at the age of 20 and he worked for the Palm Beach County Sherrif’s office after his army days.
He was unfortunately involved in a motorbike accident and became wheelchair confined since then. Still, Kleiman rose through the ranks and even made the rank of detective. He then went to work for Securit-e-doc, where he developed an encryption tool that found use at NASA, the U.S. Marshalls, and the Dept. of Treasury.
Dave Kleiman, however, died under mysterious circumstances. With no money, a high blood-alcohol level, traces of drugs, a recent bullet hole in his mattress, and a fully loaded gun at the scene. He and Craig Wright were supposedly also involved in developing gambling software.
Ira Kleiman, Dave’s brother, testified in court that Dave had confided in him over Thanksgiving dinner in 2009, that he was working on digital money that would be “bigger than Facebook” and he additionally drew its symbol, which is the current Bitcoin symbol. The same court documents also quote Wright in an email to Kleiman’s father, that “Your son Dave and I are two of the three key people behind Bitcoin”.
Coming to the end of this article, it should be clear that the legend of Satoshi Nakamoto is beyond any single man. But the facts are there for you to decide.
As for me, if Craig Wright claims that he alone is Satoshi Nakamoto, then he is most probably lying. If, on the other hand, he claims to be ‘a Satoshi Nakamoto’, then he is possibly telling the truth, because there are many Satoshi Nakamotos.