There has been much speculation on who the founder of Bitcoin is since the early 2010’s, when various supposed identities of the founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, were revealed by journalists and investigators. Today, on May 2, 2016, Craig Steven Wright has admitted to being the founder of Bitcoin and has published proof replete with critical cryptographic information that only an inside member could possess. Wright chose to make this news public through The Economist, BBC and GQ Magazine.
Wright has responded to questions as to why he now chooses to admit his involvement in Bitcoin by saying that the speculations and his silence on the issue have affected his family and work and that he wants to dispel any negative thoughts or fear that surround Bitcoin. What remains to be seen is if Bitcoin experts do believe if Craig Wright really is the founder of Bitcoin. Experts talk about a four-pronged approach to proving Wright is the founder:
- Possession of cryptographic keys,
- Sufficient proof to solve inadequacies in the initial 2015 allegation of Wright being the founder,
- Possession of technical knowledge sufficient to develop a system as complex as Bitcoin, and
- A personality that matches that of Nakamoto’s.
In Wright’s defence as founder, he has published striking proof with The Economist that he possesses private keys to access Bitcoin mining blocks, i.e., a set of hardware that was used to mine Bitcoins, linked to Nakamoto. Damning proof would have been the evidence of access to the initial set of Bitcoin mining blocks, but Wright seems to want to withhold the proof that says he does have access to the first blocks, which fuel doubts against him being the founder. Wright has also provided documented connections between his own supercomputing company, Cloudcroft with another, SGI, and said that he intended to use the ensuing supercomputer to make improvements to Bitcoin.
As for the possession of technical knowledge, studies on the multitude of papers, book contributions, and conference presentations show that Wright’s writing style is very similar to the one in the original bitcoin white paper – a paper on Bitcoin that was published on the official site at the time of its launch in 2008. Wright has also confessed to authoring several papers on Bitcoin, which, under scrutiny, revealed an adept but not expert knowledge of Bitcoin.
Furthermore, personality analyses of Satoshi Nakamoto as a very private person, and as someone with libertarian ideologies, which happen to be the root of the Bitcoin movement, seem to match with that of Wright’s. But, as of now, no record of Nakamoto exists, and therefore making a personality connection to him is a difficult process. But, people who have met and worked with Craig Wright, such as Andresen, have reportedly said that Wright sounded very much like Satoshi Nakamoto prior to the allegations beginning. Nevertheless, doubts remain about the credibility of Craig Wright’s answers, and his reasons for coming out now. Although experts may eventually come to believe Wright to be the founder of Bitcoin, many are of the opinion the all-consuming proof might be impossible to find.
For the uninitiated, Bitcoin is an internet currency that has enjoyed free reign since 2008 on darknet forums and marketplaces. Bitcoins can be collected or “mined” by bringing together large amounts of computing power, facilitated by appropriate hardware, and storing the earned Bitcoins in a pre-created wallet. The digital currency has since been accepted as a form of currency in mainstream life in cities around the world, with hundred’s of Bitcoin ATMs being opened in North America. The value of the currency has fluctuated wildly but has now come to a fairly steady value. The conversion rate currently stands at Rs. 29,448 for a Bitcoin.
Satoshi Nakamoto has been given several identities since 2011. Some of the identities were: economic sociologist Dr. Vili Lehdonvirta, Irish cryptography student Michael Clear, Japanese Mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki, and American chief scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation, Gavin Andresen. Clear and Lehdonvirta had denied the allegations. Furthermore, Hal Finney, an American pioneer in cryptography was also thought to be the founder in 2014 due to his work on the Bitcoin software, but this was also eventually proved wrong.
In December 2015, hackers obtained access to Australian computer scientist, Craig Steven Wright’s email accounts that revealed that Craig Wright, and partner David Kleiman, a (deceased) American forensic computer investigator, were the founders of Bitcoin. Wright denied the allegation and has since moved to London for business. Wright’s home in New South Wales and many of his business premises across Australia were searched by the Australian Federal Police days after his involvement with Bitcoin was published by Gizmodo magazine.