When I first discovered Bitcoin I was enamored by the mystery behind who Satoshi Nakamoto was. It was while I was at school for mathematics that I discovered the computer science that lays behind Bitcoin which fascinated me and made me wonder as to who could create such a beautiful system. Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? I dove into the mystery and I believe Nick Szabo more than any other person is the most probable candidate for the real Satoshi Nakamoto. Here is my evidence and reasoning. In 2008 before Bitcoin was created Szabo released a paper entitled “Bitgold” wherein the opening statement reads
“…My proposal for bit gold is based on computing a string of bits from a string of challenge bits, using functions called variously “client puzzle function,” “proof of work function,” or “secure benchmark function.”. The resulting string of bits is the proof of work. Where a one-way function is prohibitively difficult to compute backwards, a secure benchmark function ideally comes with a specific cost, measured in compute cycles, to compute backwards.”Nick Szabo
This language is so familiar to all Bitcoiners today that it is forgotten how revolutionary such an idea was at the time. What is interesting is that Nakamoto never mentioned Szabo’s Bitgold paper despite the nearly identical ideas put forth within it, nor did Nakamoto ever email Szabo. The idea is so similar that if Nakamoto was not Szabo he surely would be guilty of plagiarism.
This language similarity is no trivial matter either and holds a key as to who Satoshi was. In late 2017 Data Scientist Michael Chon published “Stylometric Analysis: Satoshi Nakamoto” wherein “Natural Language Processing tools were applied to the Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin paper to compare it to numerous cryptocurrency-related papers in an attempt to identify the true identity of the unknown Satoshi Nakamoto.” The paper’s results highlighted that “According to the classification algorithms in Table 3, they all predicted that Nick Szabo is linguistically similar to Satoshi”. If you were trying to hide your identity like Nakamoto, the last thing you would want to do is mention your identity. Perhaps this is the reason why Nakamoto never mentions Bitgold or Szabo despite the clear similarity in both linguistics and ideas.
In August of 2017 Szabo was a featured guest on the Tim Ferriss Show where a classic Freudian slip occurred 1 hour 35 minutes and 42 seconds into the podcast as Szabo mistakenly says “I designed Bitcoin” … while this may seem like a trivial mistake, it also is kind of revealing considering the context in which it was said. In mathematics there is a property called the commutative property where the product of A and B is equivalent to the product of B and A. The community who understand Nick Szabo to be Satoshi Nakimoto often use their initials in place of the commutative property to explain NS = SN. Or Nick Szabo = Satoshi Nakimoto.
These aren’t just nerdy internet sleuths either who believe Szabo is Satoshi. The one and only Elon Musk recently stated in a podcast after being asked about Nakamoto. Musk said that “Obviously I don’t know who created bitcoin … it seems as though Nick Szabo is probably more than anyone else responsible for the evolution of those ideas. He claims not to be Nakamoto … but he seems to be the one more responsible for the ideas behind it than anyone else.”
“Obviously I don’t know who created bitcoin … it seems as though Nick Szabo is probably more than anyone else responsible for the evolution of those ideas. He claims not to be Nakamoto … but he seems to be the one more responsible for the ideas behind it than anyone else.”Elon Musk
In the end, here is the most important takeaway. Nakamoto wanted to be anonymous. Even if we know who he is, and we can pretty safely assume we do… we should let him (or her) keep that anonymity without forcing them to admit what they did. After all, they changed our world for the better and all they ask for is to be left alone. All we can say to them is “Thank You”.