There isn’t much that is certain about Satoshi, but we do have a few reliable clues from primary sources. Here they are: he is male, British, living in the UK probably in the London area. Probably born in the early 1970s with a long academic education most likely in computer science or mathematics. Programs in C++. He was working full-time as an academic, researcher, or consultant in the IT security area when he created Bitcoin. Not a revolutionary but an idealist with libertarian leanings. He may be married and living a stable middle-class family life. When it comes to skills he has deep knowledge of proof-of-work, peer-to-peer technologies, virtual currencies, and private key encryption.
Any suggestion who is behind the identity of Satoshi must therefore fit these 13 profile criteria:
- British Language
- Born in the 1970s
- Based in Europe/UK
- University education
- Programs C++
- Virtual currencies
- Private key encryption
We still have to find a way to search for suspects though. The best way to do that is to look at the primary sources written by Satoshi himself once again. As we have seen, he does not write explicitly about himself or any collaborators, but the Bitcoin white paper references several other researchers. In academic circles, citing teachers, collaborators, and oneself is common. This opens a new and exciting way of approaching the search: could Satoshi have cited himself? Even If he didn’t, we would still get an idea about the social and academic circles in which he is to be found. Let us, therefore, go back to the Bitcoin white paper and look at the references.
The Bitcoin whitepaper features eight references with a total of ten different people. From the whitepaper, we can deduce that Satoshi was most inspired by Adam Back’s Hashcash and Wei Dai’s B-Money. They were announced on the cypherpunk mailing list by Back and Dai at the end of the nineties. Thus there is a good chance that the historical Satoshi would have been part of that community and learned about Hashcash and B-Money from there. The list contained thousands of members interested in cryptography in general, but they were not all interested in the relative niche of virtual currencies. We should therefore narrow the scope to those members who actively engaged in discussions around Hashcash and B-Money. Satoshi would be likely to have done that.
In the spring of 1997, Hashcash was introduced to the list. It sparked some discussion and was revisited a few times. Later in the fall of 1998, B-money was proposed on the same mailing list and also received subsequent discussions. Although not widely popular, both proposals received feedback and questions from 19 identifiable individuals.
This yields a list of 29 people who could be the historical Satoshi. In table 1, we can see the degree to which they match the criteria of the profile we constructed. M means that we have evidence that the person matches the criteria. D means we have evidence that the person deviates and does not match the criteria, while U means that it is unknown based on the evidence I have been able to find.
After examining the table, it appears that all individuals are male and most likely have a university degree. However, while some individuals share certain characteristics, others have different ones. There is no specific profile criterion that matches any one person uniquely.
It is evident that nearly all of the potential candidates fail to meet more than half of the criteria and cannot be identified as the true Satoshi. However, there is one person who stands out as he meets all aspects of the profile. To find out who that person is, you have to buy my book “Still Searching For Satoshi – Unveiling the Blockchain Revolution” out on Apress
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