Well, that’s that! Craig Wright has abruptly decided not to do the one thing that could prove he was Satoshi Nakamoto – move at least one of the original Bitcoins. And so, like Godzilla, the identity of “Satoshi” wanders slowly back into the deep ocean, to await the next Mothra or whatever.
I never believed he was Satoshi, and I’ll admit it – I have absolutely none of the advanced technical analytic skills required to deconstruct his claims. I never believed it because he just wasn’t…right.
He wasn’t the kind of person I’ve seen in all the reading I’ve done about cryptography. There is a personality type who is both attracted to, and good at, this kind of work.
They’re Renaissance Men, who are as like as not to play the violin and translate Sanskrit for fun as they are to be encrypting or decrypting things. They have wide interests across multiple disciplines.
Wright could lay claim to that, if indeed he does have a PhD is in theology, comparative religious and classical studies, attained via a dissertation titled “Gnarled roots of a creation theory.” (Which sounds like an awfully short and simple title for a PhD in a field like that…)
However, as far as his other alleged multiple degrees goes, “The University from which he claimed to have achieved another PhD, this time in computer science, told Forbes he had been awarded two Master’s degrees, but not a doctorate.”
As a cryptographer, you conceal, you dissimulate, you misdirect, but at the heart of the secret is the “truth,” even if that truth is actually a lie designed to fool the enemy. Which sounds weird and maybe I’m not 100% getting the sense of that on paper, but what I mean is, you don’t just make shit up like a fake degree that is, well…a “secret” so easily decoded with a simple phone call to the Uni Bloody Versity.
Crypto types like secrets. They like keeping secrets. I wouldn’t be surprised if the biggest names in crypto all know who “Satoshi” really is. But they won’t reveal it because…that’s no fun. Hey – if you want to try and crack the mystery, fuck yeah! Let’s see you do it! But just reveal the answer? Where’s the fun in that?
And what kind of person has the ability, the willingness, to sit on hundreds of millions of dollars without cashing in? What kind of person is…what? Utopian enough that the money doesn’t matter to him? What kind of person values his secrecy, his privacy…more than he values cashing out $450,000,000? Is that the kind of person who declares neverending everlasting war on some Australian Tax Guy who cost him a nickel? (Well, rich people are fucked up like that, they’ll burn the whole world down to keep a single nickel.)
Barring abrupt onset mental illness, how does someone who’s so stolidly maintained his anonymity all these years suddenly wake up one morning and become the kind of person who seeks the attention he’s avoided so well?
And then there’s his note this morning, in which Wright declares he’s done, and that he’s “sorry.”
I believed that I could do this. I believed that I could put the years of anonymity and hiding behind me. But, 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.
When the rumors began, my qualifications and character were attacked. When those allegations were proven false, new allegations have already begun. I know now that I am not strong enough for this.
I know that this weakness will cause great damage to those that have supported me, and particularly to Jon Matonis and Gavin Andresen. I can only hope that their honour and credibility is not irreparably tainted by my actions. They were not deceived, but I know that the world will never believe that now. I can only say I’m sorry.
Now, the thing about this for me is, we novelists have seen so many unmasked plagiarists and impostors recently, who inevitably respond to their unmasking with a blog post or open letter or whatnot in which these sociopaths express their regret (once caught). “I never meant to hurt anybody!” is the standard excuse in those posts, and it’s…true. They never meant to hurt anybody, because it never occurred to them to think or care if anybody got hurt or not.
Okay, so maybe this guy is the one person who doesn’t fit the type. Who doesn’t “match” the type I’ve read about in my research. Maybe at the last moment, he really didn’t want to “be Satoshi.”
I knew a kid who went to Georgetown, who got to his last final in his last class, and wouldn’t take the test. Wouldn’t accept the offer to take it later. Who, at the brink of a career his parents had laid out for him, just…refused. At the last possible moment at which he could refuse. That shit happens.
Strength in Numbers came out of my personal vision of Satoshi, based on my reading. Someone who was a Utopian, who did want to “remain secret,” but who did understand the awesome power that comes with a fortune so large, and found a way to “have it all,” privacy and freedom from the burden of the money and a way to do good with it (all within the preposterous framework of a thriller involving global mad-dashing and Bondian villains and of course gay sexin’).
I’m relieved. Not just for the (okay general) believability of my book, but because at this point, I like that Satoshi is a secret, too. One that someone someday may crack after all…