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New bitcoin controversy, Part I

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As you probably know, dear reader, the crypto-currency Bitcoin, the first and so far most successful of the world's crypto-currencies, is generally described as the invention of one Satoshi Nakamoto. And that name is generally understood as a pseudonym for a more shadowy person or group. About the actual identity of whom a variety of theories have bloomed.

Why care? Other than the possibility that you love a recent-history puzzle, you might care because whoever that person is, or whoever they are, "Satoshi" holds a heck of a large cache of personal bitcoins. If he sold them in a single blow, he'd render the currency near worthless.

His cache is called the Tulip Trust, and it consists of 1.1 million bitcoins.

A few months ago (December 2015) a couple of magazines simultaneously and independently declared that they knew who Satoshi was/is. Their accounts differed in some details but had a lot of overlap. Wired and Gizmodo both said that bitcoin was the creation of Craig Steven Wright, an entrepreneur living in a suburb of Sydney, Australia. The Gizmodo report also gave a lot of emphasis to the role of Dave Kleiman, an American expert in computer forensics who had died two years before. Gizmodo made Satoshi seem like an amalgam of Wright and Kleiman: WIred made Wright clearly the main figure, although it did mention Kleiman in a supporting capacity.

The latest development? As of May 2, Craig Wright now says, "yes, it was me all along."  Or words to that effect.

Yet as you may notice I have headlined this blogpost not "An old resolved bitcoin controversy." This sounds like a new Bitcoin controversy, because some informed parties don't believe him.

If Wright wanted to falsely claim to be the guy in possession of the Tulip Trust, then this was a clever an elaborate way to do it. First, phony up the documentation and indirectly feed it to two interested publications. Second, play coy about it for four months. Third, then own up to it, offering new and likewise phonied-up documentation. It sounds on its face implausible. Yet so much about the great "who is Sakoshi" riddle has been wildly implausible, including the whole fiasco of Newsweek's "solution"  in 2014, that one is loath to rule out anything.

As for the merits of the anti-Wright argument, I hope to say more here tomorrow.


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