What is the deal with knowing who the person behind a pseudonym is? A secret is only exciting when it remains a secret, so why don't we keep it that way? I think we can all agree that this is just human nature. A month after Newsweek claimed to have found Satoshi Nakamoto, now a new theory has popped up. The approach is a bit more 'scientific' this time, but the end claim that Satoshi Nakamoto is any one individual is still doubtful.
Newsweek made headlines all over the world with their 'unmasking' of the creator of Bitcoin. Unfortunately, they kept making the news for days after publishing their article. The person they believed was Satoshi, turned out not to be. The poor man became the center of media attention. He retaliated by suing Newsweek. One would think this would keep other media from making such claims that easily, but here we go again. This time, a United Kingdom university decided the time was ripe to show Satoshi to the world.
A study by students and researchers at Aston University in Birmingham claims a linguistics analysis of the writings by people most often listed as Bitcoin's potential creator leads them to believe Nick Szabo is the inventor of the cryptocurrency. Szabo is a former George Washington University law professor. The study, conducted by a group of 40 students and researchers at the university, concluded that Szabo's writing has 'uncanny' similarities to the writing found in Bitcoin's white paper. This white paper was written in 2008 by Satoshi.
This all seems rather far-fetched and to say Szabo and Satoshi are the same person is a blunt statement. Obviously, the team thinks largely the same about this, and they stated that in their concludings. "The study does not point conclusively to Mr. Szabo. It's just that, of all the people studied, he appears to be the most likely candidate. That is a far cry from a smoking gun. It's just another clue." Said the team about their findings.
“Our study adds to the weight of evidence pointing towards Nick Szabo,” added Dr. Jack Grieve, a lecturer in forensic linguistics at the university and the study’s leader, in a statement. “The case looks pretty clear-cut. Szabo is an expert in law, finance, cryptography and computer science…Did Nick Szabo create Bitcoin? We’re not sure, but we think he probably wrote the paper, so it’s certainly worth a closer look.”
Dr Grieve and Grey concluded, there is a good chance the document was co-authored by a group of developers. If this was the case, Szabo would have been the perfect candidate to make sense of it, edit it and prepare it for publishing.
Could it be true?
So is it possible? There are indications that point in the direction of Szabo. As a former law professor at George Washington University, he has been involved in digital contracts and currency. He developed a precursor to Bitcoin, called Bit Gold. He also wrote about the security of online commerce. On top of that, he has been named as the likely creator of Bitcoin before, albeit in an earlier anonymously published textual analysis.
Aston University looked at eleven people in their research. They chose men who have been rumored to be Satoshi Nakamoto before. Among Szabo were some other prominent Bitcoin celebrities, for example:
- Dorian Nakamoto (Newsweek's target)
- Hal Finney (first person to work openly on Bitcoin with the man who called himself Nakamoto)
- Jed McCaleb (founder of Mt. Gox)
- Gavin Andresen (chief scientist at Bitcoin Foundation and first-hour Bitcoin enthusiast)
The research team made a press release that explains why they believe Szabo is most likely the creator:
"The results showed that of the eleven Szabo is by far the closest match, with a large number of distinctive linguistic traits appearing in both the Bitcoin paper and Szabo’s blogs and other writings. This includes the use of: the phrases “chain of…”, “trusted third parties”, “for our purposes”, “need for…”, “still”, “of course”, “as long as”, “such as” and “only” numerous times, contractions, commas before ‘and’ and ‘but’, hyphenation, ‘-ly’ adverbs, the pronouns ‘we’ and ‘our’ in papers by a single author; fragmented sentences following colons and reflexive (-self) pronouns. In total hundreds of documents written by the eleven possible authors were considered, including over 40 academic papers written by Szabo that are available on his personal website."
Additionally, Szabo had post-dated his bit gold articles to make them seem as if they were inspired by Bitcoin, and not the other way around.
As said before, a secret is only exciting when it remains a secret. There is no way to prove who Satoshi Nakamoto is by just evaluating someone's writing style and comparing that to the Bitcoin white paper. Szabo may have assisted in writing that paper, but concluding he is the creator of it... Of course, secrets are no fun when nobody tries to reveal them, so it's all good. I wonder who the next supposed Bitcoin creator will be. Care to make a guess? Let us know whom you think Satoshi Nakamoto is here.
Dorian Satoshi photo by Telegraph.co.uk