I Am Not Satoshi Nakamoto

This isn’t the first time I’ve received an e-mail like this:

Hey! I’ve done my research and looked at a lot of facts and old forgotten archives. I know that you are Satoshi, I do not want to tell anyone about this. I just wanted to say that you created weapons of mass destruction where niches remained poor and the rich got richer! When bitcoin first appeared, I was small, and alas, my family lost everything on this, you won’t find an apple in the winter garden, people only need strength and money. Sorry for the English, I am from Russia, I can write with errors. You are an amazingly intelligent person, very intelligent, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Once I dreamed of a better life for myself and my children, but this will never come …

I like the bit about “old forgotten archives,” by which I assume he’s referring to the sci.crypt Usenet group and the Cypherpunks mailing list. (I posted to the latter a lot, and the former rarely.)

For the record, I am not Satoshi Nakamoto. I suppose I could have invented the bitcoin protocols, but I wouldn’t have done it in secret. I would have drafted a paper, showed it to a lot of smart people, and improved it based on their comments. And then I would have published it under my own name. Maybe I would have realized how dumb the whole idea is. I doubt I would have predicted that it would become so popular and contribute materially to global climate change. In any case, I did nothing of the sort.

Read the paper. It doesn’t even sound like me.

Of course, this will convince no one who doesn’t already believe. Such is the nature of conspiracy theories.

Posted on September 24, 2021 at 2:05 PM46 Comments

Comments

Matt September 24, 2021 2:20 PM

Denying it is exactly what you WOULD do if you were Satoshi Nakamoto!

…of course, it’s also what you’d do if you weren’t.

any moose September 24, 2021 2:47 PM

From the referenced Wired article: “Honestly, cryptocurrencies are useless. They’re only used by speculators looking for quick riches, people who don’t like government-backed currencies, and criminals who want a black-market way to exchange money.”

I am shocked that Wired, the domain of Silicon Valley sycophants, anarchists, and libertarians, would publish such an article. The article is 100% correct.

Clive Robinson September 24, 2021 3:03 PM

@ Bruce,

I wouldn’t have done it in secret. I would have drafted a paper, showed it to a lot of smart people, and improved it based on their comments.

Hey you sound like Phil “Mr PGP” Zimmerman 😉

All you need now is a Seal and a phone…

Ray Dillinger September 24, 2021 4:33 PM

I have the same problem.

Honestly I thought Satoshi was headed for a test deployment on some campus somewhere, ‘cos the way I looked at it it was interesting, had a new idea in terms of cryptocurrency, and worth a test run, but it was never going to scale. The scope of the actual release and the number of people immediately involved was quite the shock, and the interesting part was over at that point so I did a fade.

But I guess it scaled well enough. Not really well enough, but well enough for a cadre of people to believe in.

I ‘outed’ myself a few years ago by releasing some very early bitcoin source from before launch. So people know I was part of it, but I don’t think most of them realize how tiny a part I played. Mostly I just looked it over hunting for numerical-methods errors and a couple of other things.

But several times a year, I get a note from someone who thinks I’m Satoshi.

Hint: I’m not.

But nobody who thinks otherwise would ever believe my denial – nor for that matter yours, Mr. Schneier.

I’m more involved than you, and you’re more famous than me; we’re probably both going to be dealing with “I know you’re Satoshi” letters forever.

Sut Vachz September 24, 2021 4:54 PM

“Mister Abbott, … are you interested in Setec Astronomy ?”
“I’m interested in all kinds of astronomy.”

I, stoic bash user, omit so insane hackers.

Ian M September 24, 2021 5:10 PM

Cypherpunks. Ah, nostalgia. I remember when half the people who had a copy of Applied Cryptography had bought it directly from you – at least that was the impression one got if one read cypherpunks: “Thanks Bruce! Book arrived safely. What about that bit on page xyz where…”

humdee September 24, 2021 8:14 PM

I am honestly one of the few who can say they read that damn paper the first week it was posted to the web. I thought it was an interesting idea but not really amenable to substantial practical application nor one that any government would ever let see the light of day in an official way.

Of course, I was also working in the Dulles area when Steve Case was getting AOL off the ground and I thought that was an impractical idea too. The masses would never tolerate the slow speeds, I thought.

What I have learned in life is that I am always right in the long run but have impoverished myself significantly by overestimating the intelligence of the American people and its leaders. Some people get very rich off of very stupid ideas.

8349323 September 24, 2021 10:18 PM

I doubt I would have predicted that it would become so popular and contribute materially to global climate change

Global warming will occur regardless of how much Cryptocurrency you buy.

  1. Topsoil UN 2060
  2. Global warming -> Warmer oceans -> Phytoplankton Dying -> Decreased Oxygen Production -> ???
  3. Peak Oil, Natural Gas, and Coal have all occurred or are about to.

The gains you get on XMR can come in handy.

  1. Buy a cop
  2. Rent a solider
  3. Buy a Toyota/gun/flag combo to participate in the new government
  4. Bribe a country to let you immigrate even though they don’t want immigrants.

Dave September 24, 2021 11:35 PM

Had one or two of those myself, based on working in that field and various amounts of kabbalistic analysis of things I’ve written and things that Satoshi wrote which allegedly show we’re the same person. I generally tell them to read my public statements on what I think of cryptocurrencies and never hear back again. I think it just comes with the territory, everyone gets pinged at some point.

Dave September 24, 2021 11:38 PM

For people dropping names of likely suspects, its dangerous to even speculate. Family members of strong-suspect Satoshi’s have received attention from organised crime groups who think they can be strongarmed into revealing more.

Okoshi Koko Choco September 25, 2021 4:49 AM

Well, I wouldn’t call this a conspiracy theory, because you as a single person surely don’t constitute a conspiracy.

Clive Robinson September 25, 2021 5:01 AM

@ Bernie,

The email looks AI-generated to me.

The question is of course,

“A computer trying to look human, a human trying to look artificial, or at some point the two lines have intersected?”

Could be an “intersect” I’m sure we’ve all met on or two potential candidates for that 😉

@ Okoshi Koko Choco,

I wouldn’t call this a conspiracy theory

Well how about “What have Microsoft done with Tay?”

The replacment was Zo not good enough.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tay_(bot)

Denton Scratch September 25, 2021 5:13 AM

Would you rather trust a human legal system or the details of some computer code you don’t have the expertise to audit?

I don’t have the expertise to understand legal texts, either. And I certainly can’t “audit” the biases and prejudices of human policemen, judges and prosecutors.

So no; I wouldn’t rather trust the human legal system. But I will use it, if there’s no viable alternative.

Denton Scratch September 25, 2021 5:24 AM

Just about everyone using bitcoin has to trust one of the few available wallets and use one of the few available exchanges.

This simply isn’t true.

  1. There are many self-hosted wallets. Nobody “has to” trust an online wallet.
  2. LocalXXX operations are essentially escrow services. They don’t ever see your coin. They can decamp with the escrowed fiat, but that would destroy their income stream. What they would gain isn’t long-term deposits – they’d just get what amounts to cash in transit. There’s not much incentive for them to scam-out.

Denton Scratch September 25, 2021 7:53 AM

@Clive:

I just checked; yes. I was replying mainly to Bruce’s remarks in his article that he cited (https://www.wired.com/story/theres-no-good-reason-to-trust-blockchain-technology/).

Perhaps you missed that this thread is about Bruce’s opinions about blockchain?

FWIW, I don’t HODL any coin – I just use cryptocurrency to buy stuff online, direct from strangers I have no reason to trust (i.e. I HODL at any time no more than the change from my last purchase).

Incidentally, there’s a long history of those charged with maintaining the stability of fiat currencies instead debauching them. Consider the Barber Boom (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Barber), and then the Lawson Boom (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawson_Boom). In both cases, a UK Chancellor deliberately inflated the coin of the realm for political purposes, thus devaluing pensions and savings.

I don’t see how this is fundamentally different from something like the Mt.Gox exit scam, except that in the case of those booms, the victims of those daylight robberies had no legal recourse, even if they did trust the legal system.

lurker September 25, 2021 1:16 PM

It seems some governments can control the value of Bitcoin[1]

In other news my print weekend paper[2] had a screaming headline:
Safe Stolen $4M Vanishes.

Q: when was it “worth” $4M?

[1] hxtps://edition.cnn.com/2021/09/24/investing/china-cryptocurrency-ban/index.html

[2] hxtps://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/crypto-heist-raiders-steal-safe-containing-4m-in-cryptocurrency-from-westmere-home/PI3L5LMS6PCSVABJDYSW5O4YGA/

Sut Vachz September 25, 2021 3:49 PM

Could Satoshi Nakamoto be the name of a collective (of cryptographic experts), along the lines of Nicolas Bourbaki, which was/is a name for a secret collective (full membership probably still not publicly known) of eminent mathematicians publishing an organized, detailed series of books covering all modern mathematics ?

John Nada September 25, 2021 4:20 PM

@JPA : If a reference to a Kubrick movie is now an obscure film reference, what can be said about the Fast novel, the (better) Koestler novel and even the under-average TV series ?

Satoshi Nakamoto September 25, 2021 6:13 PM

I apologize for the inconvenience to everyone

Satoshi Nakamoto was designed to be anonymous

Bernie September 25, 2021 9:42 PM

@Clive Robinson,

As the lines become blurrier, it becomes clearer that humans aren’t all they think they are… possibly. (Hmm… Without background, my intended meaning is quite vague. I get the feeling that you’ll get something out of it anyway.)

Clive Robinson September 26, 2021 3:58 AM

@ Bernie,

I get the feeling that you’ll get something out of it anyway.

Oh I did, and I suspect others have as well 😉

Sut Vachz September 26, 2021 9:11 AM

@Bernie @Clive Robinson

So … you’re saying Satoshi Nakamoto is really just a sociological scale Turing test ?

Ray Dillinger September 26, 2021 10:48 AM

Endless ink and effort have been spilled by people trying to figure out who Satoshi is, and some of the speculations have endangered people or threatened to ruin lives. The last known communication using one of Satoshi’s known keys, in fact, was to take the heat off someone who was in danger and more or less under siege after a major news magazine claimed that that person was Satoshi.

Think about what crooks would do to someone if they thought that by doing it they could get at Satoshi’s keys, and understand that those crooks exist and those threats have been made. At least once to me personally, in fact, and I would be shocked if other “suspects” higher on the list haven’t experienced more of the same. This behavior of trying to ‘out’ Satoshi puts people in danger.

Satoshi’s identity doesn’t matter. The protocol is what it is. If it’s a third-world dictator, a homeless guy living under a bridge in Belize, a Bedouin working from a cell phone as she traverses Bir Tawil on a camel, or a pushcart vendor in Nairobi, the protocol is exactly the same as it would be if it were a cryptoanalyst working for the NSA or, or someone at a “troll farm” drawing a salary from the GRU, or a well-known Security researcher or Cypherpunk. “Satoshi” doesn’t exist outside that protocol. Satoshi is just a hat somebody wore while they were developing it.

And it doesn’t matter who was wearing the hat.

The only thing I’m really sure of is that Satoshi doesn’t want to be known and there’s no reason anybody needs to know.

As to Satoshi’s coins, he never wanted to have them. In 2008, Hal and I were telling him that somebody had to mine like crazy to keep the protocol stable. He didn’t want to but it had to be done. And in 2009, he said he had no intent of ever spending them. Given those two things, it’s entirely possible that he didn’t even retain those keys.

Bernie September 26, 2021 9:30 PM

@Sut Vachz,

So … you’re saying Satoshi Nakamoto is really just a sociological scale Turing test ?

That’s not what I was thinking. Though, you have given me something new to ponder.

Dave September 26, 2021 10:12 PM

@Ray Dillinger: Absolutely, thus my earlier comment asking people not to speculate publicly, someone’s going to get killed at some point when the people who really, really want to get at Satoshi’s coin stash refuse to accept “I don’t know” as an answer.

When the bratva come knocking, keep telling them it’s Craig Wright, if he wants to be Satoshi that badly he can act as the lightning rod.

ResearcherZero September 27, 2021 11:37 PM

@Sut Vachz exactly.

@Dave this

“When the bratva come knocking, keep telling them it’s Craig Wright, if he wants to be Satoshi that badly he can act as the lightning rod.”

Clive Robinson September 29, 2021 10:46 AM

@ Sheilagh Wong,

Why would you deny it if you weren’t?

With that sort of logic you should become a US congress critter.

Sut Vachz September 29, 2021 1:08 PM

Use and Mention, Logic 1010, Mr. Russell

Midterm exam, exam proctor K. Gödel

(10101 points) Compare and contrast the truth value of the following two statements:

  1. Bruce Schneier : “I am not Satoshi Nakamoto.”
  2. Satoshi Nakamoto : “I am not Bruce Schneier.”

Are these statements the same or not ? Explain your answer and give three examples.

Me September 29, 2021 2:27 PM

If you aren’t Satoshi, you should be able to prove it by NOT sending exactly 2021.09 BTC from one of the original wallets.

blah September 30, 2021 3:13 PM

@Denton Scratch

There are many self-hosted wallets. Nobody “has to” trust an online wallet.

Well, the only thing that is kept in your self-hosted wallet is the cryptographic keys.

You need to trust the implementation of the cryptographic algorithm, both on the bitcoin network and that it does not have some NSA backdoor to it.

Axel F September 30, 2021 3:25 PM

My guess is that cryptocurrencies are just a monetary version of a communication app that claims to be “end to end encrypted” for the purpose of getting criminals to use it. A type of a “honeypot”, if you will.

Axel F September 30, 2021 3:35 PM

@Denton Scratch

“There are many self-hosted wallets. Nobody “has to” trust an online wallet.”

I take that is apparently your reference to what Bruce wrote in the Wired article.

Whether you are “self-hosting” your wallet or not, what Bruce wrote holds true regardless

People have to trust the software and the operating systems and the computers everything is running on. And we’ve seen attacks against wallets and exchanges.

Sut Vachz October 8, 2021 3:16 PM

By saying “Put it on my tab” while chatting with friends in a bar well off the beaten track, he established the root of trust for the blockchain.

He is The Most Interesting Man in the World.

“I am not always Satoshi Nakamoto, but when I am, I carry big rolls of large denomination bills stuffed into all my pockets. Stay thirsty, my friends.”

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