Earlier today we wrote about the intriguing new claim, from computer industry pioneer Ted Nelson, that the inventor of Bitcoin was probably Japanese math professor Shinichi Mochizuki.
Mochizuki made a name for himself last fall when he cracked the infamous ABC Conjecture, which dealt with the nature of prime numbers.
Nelson's argument, which he laid out in a video, is that Mochizuki showed a level of intelligence and breadth of knowledge that was similar to the pseudonymous Bitcoin creator, who went by the name Satoshi Nakamoto. Nelson pointed out that like Nakamoto, (who introduced Bitcoin to the world and then disappeared without a trace) Mochizuki did much the same thing after his famous proof last year.
But some are skeptical.
In a comment posted on YCombinator which he has let us publish, Clark Minor explains the problem with the theory that Nakamoto is Mochizuki:
This is almost certainly wrong.
If you spend any time at all reading about history of Bitcoin and other related currencies, it's clear that Satoshi was a cypherpunk. And at least an active lurker, if not a well-known participant, in the cypherpunks mailing list during the 1990s and early 2000s. Just look at the sources in the bitcoin paper.
Satoshi cites lots of cypherpunks, and not many mainstream academics. The code borrows time-stamping ideas from Usenet and takes inspiration from command-and-control architectures of IRC botnets.
The pieces of the puzzle are:
- (1997) Adam Back's hashcash proof of work system
- (1998) Wei Dai's b-money
- (1998-2005) Nick Szabo's writings about git gold
- (2004) Hal Finney's reusable proof of work (RPOW)
Satoshi brought these ideas -- cypherpunk ideas -- together to make Bitcoin, not the ideas about improving Chaumian blind signatures and anonymous e-cash that were being discussed in the academic crypto literature of the time.
Remember, cypherpunks (and others inspired by Tim May's crypto-anarchy) have a long history of communicating anonymously. Anonymous remailers and pseudonyms were expected on the list, so it's not unusual to see Satoshi Nakamoto come out of this tradition.
There are probably people that know who the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, but they're not going to tell. They're cypherpunks, after all. And if Satoshi stays anonymous, it just means that everything is going exactly as planned.
Meanwhile, Nelson has promised to donate one Bitcoin to charity if Mochizuki will come out and say he's not the Bitcoin inventor.