In brief: Satoshi revealed, does it even matter?
Since the Bitcoin white paper was published in 2009, the identity of the now infamous pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto has been the subject of wide conjecture, with the most recent developments of Australian computer scientist Craig Steven Wright launching a renewed fervor of speculation, scepticism and perhaps even, hope.
Bitcoin is the basis on which hundreds of digital currencies have since spawned. It has served as the central catalyst for the fast-encroaching technical revolution toward decentralized systems to better suit our computer-driven, interconnected — networked — world of today.
To know the inventor, or inventors, of Bitcoin would be a revelation of grand proportion. Some may view it as the key to furthering progression of the cryptocurrency.
Surrounded by a fast-advancing industry, various fronts it must fend off, the state of Bitcoin isn’t as settled as many involved, for business or long-term investment, would care to see it.
Now, enter Wright, who consumed last week’s news headlines.
An academic, computer scientist and, evidently, self-aggrandizer who purported he would publish “a series of pieces that will lay the foundations for [the] extraordinary claim" he was Satoshi, inventor of Bitcoin.
Those following the story know Wright subsequently backed out, reneging on his promise to move bitcoin on one of the early address blocks of the cryptocurrency, “block 9,” writing “...as the events of this week unfolded and I prepared to publish the proof of access to the earliest keys, I broke. I do not have the courage. I cannot.”
This terse message was the culmination of an episode that was kicked-off months ago, in December, with a Wired article that, after reporting it received leaked evidence from someone close to Wright, suggested the 45-year-old Australian may be the real Satoshi Nakamoto.
These claims were further supported by Jon Matonis, founding director of Bitcoin Foundation and Gavin Andresen, chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation.
But, as the circus around Wright’s self-outing swept through communities on social media and media publications, a consideration eventually struck: at this point, does it really matter?
It is a fantastic story, sure, one mystery to check off the list of things that surround Bitcoin, but, in the grand scheme, it would be fruitless if such a revelation did not arrive with solutions. Solutions to the current problems plaguing the cryptocurrency today.
From block size to scaling and proliferation, to the centralizing issue (concentration of Bitcoin’s mining power) and more exist as problems that circle the US$7 billion-worth digital currency.
Further, the game Wright played did not seem like an escapade of someone who, in 2009, sought to reinvent the wheel of financial transactions, whilst forgiving fame and fortune for outright anonymity.
Ostensibly, Bitcoin’s inventor created a peer-to-peer payment system he wished no further part of, perhaps as a resounding cherry-on-top for a decentralizing technology. How decentralized is a system with no central owner?
For someone to then emerge suggesting he will prove he’s Satoshi feels entirely out of character.
Wright didn’t even push to address any of the issues that Bitcoin’s core developers are currently up against, something the creator would surely wish to confront.
And another consideration soon struck.
Perhaps Wright or any of the other “short-listed” Satoshi-possibles are the true inventors of the cryptocurrency. If the true creators were already exposed wouldn’t that seem more perilous to Bitcoin’s fate?
It would mean the inventor or inventors of one of the most exceptional technologies of the 21st century is already thrashing at the problem, trying to progress a cryptocurrency beyond its natural state of parameters they themselves once thought was good enough to function without fault.
Maybe Wright considered his obligation toward the cryptocurrency if he were to be viewed as Satoshi. Or maybe he was just at ground-zero when Bitcoin was being created, and not Satoshi himself.
In any case, the variables to success are plentiful, but the end game remains the same: progress. Anyone, even Bitcoin’s creator(s) who are without solutions toward that end are for lack of better wording, futile to the general cause.
As the Wright saga has seemingly hit its denouement, we should reflect on what to expect from the inventor, or inventors, of Bitcoin, as heralded as he/she/they may be, they may not have the answers to progress, after all, Satoshi Nakamoto did not succeed in creating an infallible product.
It’s time those willing to take the heat, developers inside the cockpit, make the decisions toward advancing the currency beyond parameters set in 2009.