The Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto – Part 3

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This piece is the final part of our 3-part series on Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin.

In part 1 we provided an introduction to Satoshi and why he is so revered, and in part 2 we looked at the top Satoshi Nakamoto candidates, including the evidence for and against them.

In this part we discuss why the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto is still being sought after all these years and why, ultimately, it’s better that we don’t know who it is.

The Power of Mystery

The power of Satoshi's mystery

There is something about human nature that means we can’t abide a mystery.

Some theorize that it stems from our neanderthal days when the unknown was a threat to our very survival.

This has left us with the hangover that we just can’t leave things to remain unexplained.

Of course, the question of who made Bitcoin isn’t exactly a matter of survival, but it taps into the same area of our brains as UFOs, the fate of the Mary Celeste, the identity of Jack the Ripper, and other unsolved mysteries that the world cannot seemingly let go of.

The problem with these mysteries, as with the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, is that there is no new evidence to digest, meaning that the same old ground gets trodden over again and again and the same arguments get made with the same end result.

Debating the merits of one candidate over another is an interesting and fun exercise, but one ultimately grounded in futility.

Bitcoin is like a religion, with a number of followers fervently believing in one of several possible creators.

As with religion, the Bitcoin world is full of people who claim they ‘know’ that their chosen Satoshi Nakamoto candidate is the right one, but unless they are privy to evidence not currently in the public domain this is either mistaken confidence or wilful misrepresentation.

A Team Effort?

Was Satoshi just the writer?

If one single person is unlikely to have been Bitcoin’s creator, we have to consider the Murder on the Orient Express hypothesis – it was a group effort, with many people all playing their part for a single common goal.

Of course there has to have been one person who fired the starter pistol on Bitcoin, the individual that emailed Wei Dai and Adam Back in mid-2008 with a draft whitepaper of what would end up being Bitcoin, but it could be that this person was some kind of spokesman for the group, the one charged with all the written communications in order to maintain consistency and put a barrier between the public and the ones pulling the strings behind the scenes.

This is a tempting theory, especially when we consider that Satoshi Nakamoto has typical working hours that match the U.S. east coast daytime pattern.

However, it is stretching credulity to believe that this spokesman-cum-ghostwriter was on hand whenever one of the group wanted to respond to an email or forum post for a period of some three years.

It’s not impossible, but it’s very unlikely. There are some who argue that the use of ‘we’ in the Bitcoin whitepaper is symbolic of a group effort, but this is standard nomenclature in technical papers of this sort.

While we know for certain that a group effort was behind the work on the protocol from the moment the Bitcoin whitepaper was published, the evidence for a group effort leading up to this point is just as flimsy as the evidence for one particular individual.

This has led to a general fallback to the idea of an individual creator, partly because the name denotes a single entity.

The Myth of Satoshi Strengthens Bitcoin’s Image

Mystery makes Bitcoin more exciting

If it’s not possible to conclude definitively who created Bitcoin, then where does that leave us?

Is it a problem that we can’t identify Bitcoin’s creator? Does it weaken the project, the brand, or the ideology?

The answer isn’t just ‘no’, it is profoundly no.

The Bitcoin protocol is magnitudes stronger without a known human element as its figurehead, both figuratively and literally.

Myth has always been stronger than reality, and having a kind of mystical benefactor who gave Bitcoin to the world and then slipped into the shadows when it was ready to stand on its own two feet creates a much stronger myth than a human being with flaws and agendas and a knowledge that they will one day die.

Satoshi Nakamoto cannot die because, technically, he never lived.

If the person who published the whitepaper in 2008 were to come forward with convincing evidence then it would undermine the collective enterprise that went into creating Bitcoin.

Bitcoin was designed to be for the masses, and the mystery around who it was that gave the world the gift of Bitcoin only strengthens its mystique.

Satoshi’s Silence Almost Guaranteed

Satoshi will never come forward

Some claim that Satoshi Nakamoto is dead and that this is the only reason his coins, now worth billions of dollars, have not been moved.

Of course, unless we are left conclusive proof post death in some way we will never know.

With every passing year that Satoshi Nakamoto fails to reveal him or herself or have their identity conclusively proven, the chances of this ever happening grow slimmer.

With every passing year of this status quo Bitcoin grows stronger, still without Satoshi at the rudder.

Even if Satoshi is one of the candidates mentioned in post 2 of this 3-part series, they will almost certainly not come forward now, knowing as they do that such a revelation would weaken Bitcoin’s mystique, not to mention bringing incredible heat on them personally.

Satoshi Nakamoto disappeared from the scene in April 2011 after warning several times that the protocol was growing too big too soon.

If 2011 Bitcoin was too hot for Satoshi to handle, there is no way he is going to reveal himself 10 years later when Bitcoin is making headlines somewhere around the world every day.

Bitcoin is immeasurably stronger for not having an identifiable creator, something that Satoshi predicted from the beginning, potentially sacrificing billions of dollars in order to keep it that way.

The genuine Satoshi Nakamoto, the brain behind the hands behind the keyboard, will continue to play dumb, knowing that any pronouncement of identity will undermine Bitcoin’s decentralized ethos.

That a third party will successfully hunt down the man or woman behind the pseudonym cannot be discounted, but many have tried and all have failed.

As we stated earlier, unless they can find compelling new evidence, it will be mere conjecture.

On September 17, 2021, a bronze statue of Satoshi Nakamoto was unveiled near the Danube river in Budapest, Hungary.

Cloaked in a hacker-style hoodie, the nondescript face has been polished and buffed so much that it shows nothing but the reflection of the person looking into it.

It is impossible to determine gender, age, or nationality from the sculpture, no matter how hard one looks.

The meaning behind this design is as simple as it is brilliant, and echoes the ethos of almost all Bitcoin supporters worldwide – we are all Satoshi Nakamoto.

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