April 17, 2014
Who Is The Creator Of Bitcoin? Researchers May Have The Answer
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
While exactly how the virtual currency known as “Bitcoin” actually works takes some explaining, a deeper mystery has long been who the man behind the mask is. Last month Newsweek claimed to have “unmasked” the creator of the digital money that is known for its high profile investors and wild fluctuations.
In a March 6 story Newsweek claimed one Satoshi Nakamoto was the creator of Bitcoin, but by March 19th the magazine was contacted by Mr. Nakamoto’s attorney who denied his client's role in creating the currency.
Nakamoto seemed like a solid “suspect,” as he was listed as the author of the paper, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” which was published on the Bitcoin.org website.
In the paper’s abstract Nakamoto seemingly wrote: “A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending. We propose a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer network. The network timestamps transactions by hashing them into an ongoing chain of hash-based proof-of-work, forming a record that cannot be changed without redoing the proof-of-work.”
However, researchers at Aston University in Birmingham, England suggest that Nakamoto is in fact not the creator of Bitcoin, but rather Nick Szabo, a blogger and ‘alleged’ former George Washington University law professor.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, “According to George Washington University, it has no record of Mr. Szabo ever working at the school as a law professor.”
While he may not have taught law, according to some 40 students and researchers at Aston University’s Centre for Forensic Linguistics (UK) he is the best possible candidate for being the man behind Bitcoin. The team studied the writing of 11 candidates, and concluded that Szabo’s writings have an “uncanny” similarity to writings found in the initial October 2008 white paper on the virtual currency – the one credited to Nakamoto.
“The number of linguistic similarities between Szabo’s writing and the Bitcoin paper is uncanny, none of the other possible authors were anywhere near as good of a match,” said Dr. Jack Grieve, lecturer in Forensic Linguistics as Aston University and team leader of the Project Bitcoin study, via a statement. “We are pretty confident that out of the list of people regularly referred to as possibilities, Nick Szabo is the main author of the paper, though we can’t rule out the possibility that others contributed.
“Our study adds to the weight of evidence pointing towards Nick Szabo,” Grieve added. “The case looks pretty clear-cut. Szabo is an expert in law, finance, cryptography and computer science. He created ‘bit gold’, a precursor to Bitcoin, and was looking for collaborators in 2008. Did Nick Szabo create Bitcoin? We’re not sure, but we think he probably wrote the paper so it’s certainly worth a closer look.”
While the researchers can’t conclusively say that Szabo created Bitcoin, they conducted research that looked at the linguistic traits in both the original Bitcoin paper and in Szabo’s blogs and other writings. This apparently included similar phrasing such as “chain of…,” “trusted third parties…,” and “for our purposes.” While some of these may seem vague the researchers did go through hundreds of documents reportedly written by 11 possible authors of the Bitcoin paper, and Szabo apparently was the closest match.
However, as far back as 2011 in an article for Wired, Szabo denied being the founder of Bitcoin and pointed to Hal Finney or Wei Dai – who both also denied it at the time.
Gigaom noted on Wednesday that perhaps Satoshi Nakamoto isn’t actually an individual but a group of people behind the curtain: “It’s long been a theory in the bitcoin community that Satoshi Nakamoto might be a group of people. If that’s the case, Szabo may not be bitcoin’s creator, but one of them.”