Through a coordinated media event, the Australian computer scientist Craig Steven Wright today claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin. Wright himself published a blog post which he says cryptographically proves ownership of private keys Satoshi would have, which was covered by the BBC, The Economist and GQ, and backed by several prominent members of the Bitcoin community.
The greater Bitcoin community, however, remains skeptical of the claims, as much of the cryptographic evidence supplied by Wright has since been refuted or is unverifiable.
Perhaps most interestingly, three prominent members of the Bitcoin and digital currency space backed Wright’s claim with their own blog posts. Two of them, former Bitcoin lead developer Gavin Andresen and former Bitcoin Foundation director Jon Matonis, traveled to London to meet Wright in person. Both claim Wright provided sufficient proof – including cryptographic proof – to convince them Wright is the man who invented Bitcoin. A third digital currency veteran – R3 architect Ian Grigg – followed up with a blog post confirming the revelation as well, and said Wright led a small team, which also consisted of Dave Kleiman, who died in 2013.
A large segment of the Bitcoin community remains skeptical of Wright’s claims, however. Most important, as first discovered by Bitonic CEO Jouke Hofman, the cryptographic signature posted as proof by Wright turned out to be publicly available – not something only Satoshi would have known. The invalidity of this proof was later confirmed by both Bitcoin Core and Libbitcoin developers, with Bitcoin Core developer Jonas Schnelli even calling Wright out as a scammer.
In the wake of the news, the Bitcoin Core development team decided to revoke Andresen’s commit access out of fear the former lead developer’s account may have been hacked. However, at Consensus 2016 in New York, Andresen refuted these claims and confirmed he believes Wright really is Satoshi. Andresen also explained on Reddit that he had seen additional cryptographic evidence when he met Wright in London, but was not allowed to keep it.
Today is not the first time Wright has made headlines as the alleged inventor of Bitcoin. In December of last year, both Wired and Gizmodo outed the Australian as Satoshi Nakamoto. Nor is this the first time these claims have been disputed. Following the December revelations, large parts of the story were quickly challenged by Bitcoin developers and the wider Bitcoin community.
This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.
Aaron van Wirdum is interested in technology and how it affects social and political structures. He has been covering Bitcoin since 2013, focusing on privacy, scalability and more. Hodls BTC.