A text analysis of Craig’ Wright’s writing by a specialist working with the U.K.-based International Business Times (IBT) has determined that the Australian is most likely not Satoshi Nakamoto. The company used a technique that compares texts written by Wright with anonymous texts believed to be sent by Nakamoto, including the original bitcoin white paper.
Both Gizmodo and Wired reported in December that Wright, a 44-year-old Australian cryptocurrency expert, might be the pseudonymous Nakamoto. The reports set off a flurry of speculation, with many claiming Wright wasn’t Nakamoto but had masterminded a hoax. Both Wired and Gizmodo acknowledged this possibility in their initial reports.
IBT tapped Juola & Associates, a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based company that uses a technique known as stylometry to determine the authors of anonymous texts. Juola compared Wright’s writing with texts that are attributed to Nakamoto. The company has been tracking Nakamoto’s texts for years.
Join CCN for $9.99 per month and get an ad-free version of CCN including discounts for future events and services. Support our journalists today. Click here to sign up.
How The Analysis Was Done
John Noecker, chief scientist at Juola & Associates, said he does not believe Wright authored the bitcoin white paper, based on linguistic texts. He used an analysis tool called Envelope that condenses millions of linguistic features the company has studied for years.
The company’s techniques were developed by Patrick Juola, a Duquesne University professor. These techniques have succeeded in the past, having identified JK Rowling, the Harry Potter author, as the writer behind “The Cuckoo’s Calling” which published under a pseudonym.
While it is widely believed that Wright planted the evidence to trick Gizmodo and Wired, there is no proof that he is not Nakamoto.
A message sent to a bitcoin forum from an email address believed to be associated with Nakamoto said: “I am not Craig Wright. We are all Satoshi.” The message, however, was not accompanied by a PGP key that would have confirmed its authenticity.
In its initial report, Wired noted that Wright could be Nakamoto or he could be a brilliant hoaxer. They could not say with absolute certainty that the mystery was solved.
Gizmodo, which published its story shortly after Wired, claimed to have uncovered files and interviews corroborating evidence of Wright’s involvement in bitcoin.
Both sources also said a computer forensics expert named David Kleiman who was a close friend of Wright played a fundamental role in bitcoin’s creation. Kleiman died in 2013.
The Mystery Continues
Meanwhile, the mystery of Nakamoto’s identity continues.
There have been three realistic Nakamoto candidates, according to IBT. Nick Szabo, an economics professor who wrote about decentralized currencies prior to bitcoin’s launch, was the first to be suggested among the top three. In 2013, a stylometric analysis of Szabo’s writing connected him to the Nakamoto’s white paper. Szabo denied he was Nakamoto.
In 2014, Newsweek’s U.S. edition claimed on its cover that a Japanese physicist named Dorian Nakamoto was bitcoin’s creator. This Nakamoto’s birth name was Satoshi, but he said he was not bitcoin’s creator.
In the wake of Dorian Nakamoto’s “unmasking,” reporter Andy Greenberg suggested a man named Hal Finney who was a cryptographic pioneer and the first person other than Satoshi to use the bitcoin software. He also lived a few blocks from Nakamoto. Finley, who died in 2014, also denied being bitcoin’s creator.
CCN last August reported the 10 top Nakamoto candidates. In addition to the three that IBT cited above, CCN included John Nash, Vili Lehdonvirta, Michael Clear, Neal King, Shinichi Mehizuki, the U.S. National Security Agency, and Wei Dai.
Others believed to be Nakamoto include Gavin Andressen, bitcoin’s chief scientist, and an Irish cryptography student.
Most Likely Candidate: Finney
Noecker said Hal Finney is the most likely candidate from a linguistic point of view. There are, however, indications of multiple contributors. Noecker said Juola & Associates’ working theory is that Nakamoto is actually a team that worked together on the original paper. Analyzing texts from different people working together has been difficult.
Australian tax authorities raided Wright’s house in Sydney shortly after his public outing and continue to search for him over his taxes.
Despite the timing of the raid, Australian federal police claimed the raids were unrelated to the bitcoin revelations but were tax-related, CCN reported. Australian authorities believe Wright is not bitcoin’s creator and may have created the hoax to distract attention from his tax issues.
The excitement created by the Wright caper was credited by some for the bitcoin price spike in mid December.
Wright is believed to be in the U.K.
Images from Shutterstock and Facebook/IBT.