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  • Oops    March 7 
Did Newsweek unmask the wrong man as Bitcoin's founder?
AP Photo/Nick Ut
AP Photo/Nick Ut

Yesterday Newsweek's Leah McGrath Goodman fingered Dorian S. Nakamoto — a 64-year-old Californian physicist and model train enthusiast — as the man behind the digital currency Bitcoin.

Dorian S. Nakamoto, born Satoshi Nakamoto in Japan, may be the man behind Bitcoin. But Newsweek's article did not contain any hard proof, and was built on layer upon layer of circumstantial evidence, including his supposed involvement in classified work for the Federal Aviation Administration; his daughter saying "[h]e was very wary of the government, taxes, and people in charge"; and his brother saying "[h]e is very meticulous in what he does, but he is very afraid to take himself out into the media."

Considering that Newsweek both implied that Nakamoto possesses bitcoins worth $400 million, and published a picture of Nakamoto's home, questions are being asked about whether this might be inviting robbery and extortion attempts. Indeed, if Dorian S. Nakamoto is not the founder of Bitcoin, Newsweek might end up facing a big lawsuit.

In an interview with the Associated Press yesterday, Dorian S. Nakamoto denied being the founder of Bitcoin, claiming that he had only heard of Bitcoin three weeks ago when his son was contacted by Newsweek. Nakamoto also said that he was referring to his career in engineering, rather than Bitcoin, when he told Newsweek, "I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it."

Now, the original Satoshi Nakamoto has emerged from two years of silence to claim that he is not Dorian S. Nakamoto, either. Replying to the original 2009 post introducing Bitcoin on the P2P Foundation website, the original Satoshi Nakamoto wrote simply: "I am not Dorian Nakamoto."

Of course, it's possible that the Satoshi Nakamoto account was hacked. And some are speculating that this is more proof that Newsweek has fingered the right man. After all, lots of people have been accused of being Satoshi Nakamoto before, and Satoshi Nakamoto has never denied it. On the other hand, none of those accused have ever had their photos, identifiable photos of their house, and details of their family published all over the internet, leading to the possibility of an elderly and reclusive physicist being subjected to extortion and robbery attempts.

Still, if Satoshi Nakamoto is not Dorian S. Nakamoto, he will have to do a lot more to prove it than simply denying it. Coming forward with his real identity may be the only way to dispel the swirling rumors.

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