Why Satoshi’s Identity Doesn’t Matter

identity09 Mar 2014 / When people talk about Bitcoin, one popular theme is the speculative nature of the cryptocurrency. On Thursday, when Newsweek relaunched its print edition with a cover story that claimed to unmask the inventor of Bitcoin, the magazine threw in a bit of speculation of its own. But after a day of excitement, recriminations, a car chase, and two denials, we still don’t know Satoshi’s true identity.

No doubt, Satoshi’s mystique is a big part of the mythos and the intrigue surrounding Bitcoin. And the true identity of the creator of Bitcoin is certainly a matter of human interest. Even before Newsweek’s messy splash, Satoshi Nakamoto was perhaps the most famous pseudonymous individual on the planet. But in the context of the Bitcoin community, his true identity has already proven immaterial to the operation of what has now become a robust global internet protocol and a billion dollar currency.

None of Bitcoin’s serious developers or the people who are otherwise enthusiastic about the currency were very enthusiastic to know Satoshi Nakamoto’s true identity. In the Newsweek piece, Bitcoin lead developer Gavin Andresen says that nobody really talked about Satoshi’s identity in the developer discussion channels because they were more interested in his creation. (Andresen later said in a tweet he regretted speaking to Newsweek reporter Leah McGrath Goodman.) While most media reports about Bitcoin have always been about crime and hacking, the price of bitcoins, or Satoshi’s identity, those sexy headlines tend to gloss over the importance of the actual technology behind the world’s first decentralized cryptocurrency.

The interest in the real Satoshi is understandable—and the speculation on his links to a number of people in the crypto community isn’t likely to cease here. But it’s important to realize why the Bitcoin community is often frustrated by attempts to unmask the currency’s creator. It’s not just about the oft-heard notion on Bitcoin forums that “he wants to be left alone.” Decentralization is a core principle behind Bitcoin, which means Bitcoin doesn’t need Satoshi to continue. Nakamoto may have attained cult-like status among bitcoiners for his breakthrough in financial cryptography, but it’s not as if he’s behind a laptop somewhere controlling the entire Bitcoin network…… Read more


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