In Defense of Craig Wright - Part 1

in #bitcoin7 years ago (edited)
Craig Wright

Many have watched the Bitcoin segwit debate with interest over the past year. Last weekend it got a lot more interesting with Craig Wright’s declaration of war on segwit, in a presentation he made at the Future of Bitcoin Conference.

What Dr. Wright showed us in his lecture is that he certainly is no Cicero. He is not gifted in the art of oration. At points in the lecture he came across as frustrated, passionate and a bit angry. Some have even said he was unhinged, and that he threatened the Bitcoin community.

But if you take the time to read the transcript of what he actually said, it is entirely consistent with his claims from 2016. And more importantly, his comments were congruent with someone who was at the very least one of the very earliest developers of Bitcoin, and who is frustrated with the direction that has been taken by the Bitcoin Core, and especially the segwit proposal. I will take apart his comments further down.

Many in the Bitcoin community have ridiculed Wright as a fraud and a conman, and therefore dismiss his technical arguments about the segwit question out of hand. I am not saying that he is not a fraud and a conman. For all I know, he may very well be a fraud and a conman in the way he has treated people in the past, but not on the particular point of whether he is/was Satoshi. However, I have no such first-hand knowledge of his personal dealings. And he has never been charged by a court with fraud. So to publicly call him a conman or fraud is defamation apart from a court finding.

At any rate, dismissing his technical arguments out of hand because you think he is a dishonest is a logical fallacy known as the ad hominem argument.


Assuming “The Social Network” was a remotely accurate though biased portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg, nobody can deny that Zuck was a self-centered leader who recruited, used, and then discarded several of the people who helped him along the way to Facebook’s massive success. That is why he got sued, and had to cough up the shares/money to his original business partner Eduardo Saverin, and others.

Zuckerberg was an extremely intelligent, highly focused young man who had excellent programming skills, at the expense of social skills. He was the stereotypical computer geek, who happened to also be driven, self centered, and ruthless.

The fact that Zuckerberg was considered by many to be a complete jerk in no way casts doubt upon his identity as the creator of Facebook. Nor do his lack of social skills lead to the conclusion that his opinions about the best architecture for the future Facebook should be discounted.

Whoever the real Satoshi Nakamoto is, or was, that person or group was effectively a polymath whose intelligence makes Zuckerberg look like a mere moron. The combination of math, statistics, cryptography, computer science and economics that created Bitcoin is extremely difficult for even very smart people to understand. Not only that, the depth of his knowledge reflects years of study and practice in computer science and cryptography. Satoshi was no 19 year old, but he may have been a lot like Zuckerberg in other ways.

It's very attractive to the libertarian viewpoint if we can explain it properly.
I'm better with code than with words though. — Satoshi Nakamoto, 11/14/2008

If I had to guess what Satoshi Nakamoto would be like, I would not be at all surprised if he turned out to have Aspergers Syndrome, or high functioning autism. The intellectual gifts that this person possessed are rarely seen except in people who have extreme talent in one area at the expense of social abilities.

The fact that Craig Wright comes across as an arrogant mad scientist, pretty well fits what I would expect to find in the creator of Bitcoin. He could very well be Bitcoin’s Zuckerberg.

‘He never admired me. I was never fucking good enough. We played chess from when I was three or four and if I made a wrong move he’d wallop me. We clashed right from the beginning.'

In his ill fated interview in 2016, Wright recounted that his father never liked him, and never accepted his choice to go into computer science. Wright’s emotional Asperger Syndrome reactions to critics reflect a boy who never received paternal approval. This man has deep psychological wounds going back to boyhood that his achievements were never recognized as being good enough.

Back to Ad Hominem Arguments

The ad hominem argument is entirely useless and irrelevant for determining which method is the best way to scale Bitcoin. Dr. Wright is a very highly qualified computer scientist, entirely apart from any claims about Satoshi. He was working on a paper about how to scale Bitcoin before he got doxed in December 2015. Therefore, it would behoove the Bitcoin community to listen and consider what he has say, solely on the technical merits of what he has to say. It’s not like the Bitcoin developer community isn’t already full of arrogant know-it-alls. One more surely cannot hurt us.

The Kleiman Connection

Several witnesses of high repute and/or early involvement with Bitcoin have publicly confirmed Wright’s 2015 claim to be the man and/or leader of a team that used the moniker Satoshi Nakamoto. That team allegedly included Dave Kleiman, now deceased. On Kleiman’s involvement with the creation of Bitcoin, even Wright’s most avowed naysayers seem to concede.

The witnesses to Wright’s authenticity include Gavin Andreeson, Jon Matonis, Ian Grigg, and Joseph Von Perling.

An interesting clue that I recently discovered was that Kleiman edited a book on computer security, published in 2007, of which Wright was a contributing author, “The Official CHFI Exam 312-49 Study Guide.” I possess an original copy, which unfortunately is not autographed by the authors.

Wright's ex-wife said that he and Kleiman met in 2003, and she and Wright went to see him at a conference in Florida. This is the same ex-wife who told the reporter that Wright "can be a bit sociopathic." It is hard to see why should would have any motive to lie about this.

At the very minimum, the collaboration on the book establishes that Wright and Kleiman knew each other and worked together no later than 2007, just before the publication of Bitcoin.pdf. In that light, Wright’s claims don’t look crazy. He clearly worked with the one man that everyone agrees was involved in the creation of Bitcoin. He was in the right place at the right time to be Satoshi, or one of them.

There is no question that the relationship was real.

This also establishes another relationship that Wright’s naysayers have harped on - that whoever wrote the Satoshi Nakamoto Bitcoin paper in 2008 used the English language in a much more polished manner than Craig Wright’s unvarnished Australian diction.

Kleiman and Wright had a documented working relationship where Kleiman was the editor who put Wright’s technical contribution into words that were easy for the average computer science student to understand.

Therefore, it would be entirely consistent for Kleiman to have been the editor of the Satoshi Nakamoto Bitcoin paper, and probably had control of the Satoshi Nakamoto email address. Based on the later episode of both the hacker and Satoshi using that email address at the same time, it seems the password might have been shared by more than one of the Satoshi team members, one of whom let it get compromised. Bad Satoshi! This is very embarrassing for the authors of a book on computer security!

And this could also explain the mixed messages sent after Wright got doxed. The Satoshi that sent the email denying being Wright might not have even been Wright, and was just following the previously agreed upon plan.

Ian Grigg already told us as much, but virtually nobody was paying attention.

What else that is relevant can I add? Satoshi Nakamoto was a team. The members haven't all been named, so as I said before, I won't, and it turns out there isn't even an authoritative set. Having said that, CSW was in.

Two additional relevant team points to help: the team worked on writing the paper, and, managing the communications. Both. Did you ever wonder why the communications and the paper were so concise, well written, literate, on point? The reason was that it wasn't a person: it was a team, and it was deliberately, carefully, painstakingly set up that way.

Keys to the Kingdom

Von Perling’s testimony is the most interesting, as he claimed to have met Satoshi Nakamoto under that name at a computer science conference in 2005, three years before the Bitcoin paper was even published.

In the interview published in Bitcoin Magazine, Von Perling hinted at the reasons that Wright declined or failed to prove he was Satoshi. He also claimed to know the trustee who held the keys, at least at that time, of Satoshi’s bitcoin stash, and referred to that person as a “her.” Von Perling’s cryptic comments implied that he knew a lot more than he was saying, and that his purpose was to send a message to Wright, not to illuminate the public.

Yoda: Told you I did. Reckless is he. Now, matters are worse.
Obi-Wan: That boy is our last hope.
Yoda: No. There is another.

Collectively, those witnesses have given enough public information that we can deduce that Wright put the Satoshi bitcoin keys into the trust of another party, who may or may not have been a member of the Satoshi team, and who was still living in 2015.

Grigg explains:

The technical argument is simple, so I'll repeat the governance story quickly: The keys were moved very early in the piece to a safe set of hands (like, around 2009, I don't know for sure, I wasn't there), because the original set of hands was now in danger, which you can confirm if you read all the published documents. Then a bit later on, the keys were moved again to another set of safe hands (maybe 2013). And finally, they were moved yet again.

Grigg also testifies elsewhere that he was a witness to the most recent transfer of the keys.

I wasn't there except for the last move, and even that not physically but net-wise. I can tell you that (a) it happened and (b) it was traumatic. Don't be around when that happens.

In 2016 Von Perling conveyed a message from that trustee to Wright through the Bitcoin Magazine journalist (and possibly other channels), not to move the coins. Von Perling and Grigg are two independent witnesses that Wright had put the keys to the Satoshi account with a trustee of some kind. Hence Wright’s inability (legally or otherwise) to move the coins has a plausible and verified explanation.

Wright may have had and may still have a copy of the keys himself, but having the trustee tell him publicly not to move them might have created some problems for him. We all remember what happened between Eduard Severin and Mark Zuckerberg. Lawsuit!!! Von Perling’s message to Wright could be viewed as a veiled threat. But I am not assuming that Wright was acting rationally. He was under extreme stress.

The other, and I think most likely, possibility is that the trustee removing permission gave Wright the excuse that he wanted to refuse to do something that he never wanted to do to begin with.

Grigg seems to concur:

The 'fake signing' event was shocking. But it actually makes some sort of sense, if only you had the inside view. Here's some background: the 'big reveal' was not what CSW contracted for. He didn't want to 'out' at any time, but was persuaded this had to happen. And I've written elsewhere about how it was inevitable, unpleasant, but not IMHO an option.

Moving the coins would not have proved it anyway.

If I have a key to a certain house, does that prove I am the owner of that house?

If I lack the key to a certain house, does that prove that I am not the owner of that house?

Without evidence of how I got the key mere possession of the house key proves nothing.

Cypherpunks have long put too much trust in the idea of public key cryptography. There are ways to get someone else's signing key, voluntarily or by theft.

A digital signature in and of itself only proves one thing - that someone possessed the key at that moment, and signed the text contained in the signature.

It does not even prove who held the key at that moment in time, or at any time in the past.

The naysayers in the community demand a form of proof that is insufficient by itself to prove Wright's claim.

At the same time, they refuse to allow or consider much stronger forms of evidence.

This reveals that the hatred and rejection of Wright's Satoshi claim is not based on rational consideration of the evidence, but upon an emotional reaction to something people dislike about Wright himself.

There is no evidence that will ever convince those people that Wright was or is Satoshi, including spending the Satoshi coins.

Moving on...

Whether there were two, three, four or six members of team Satoshi, I do not claim to know. I’m not sure they would agree on that question themselves. But whatever the true story is, if it ever comes out, it will probably prove to be even more dramatic than “The Social Network.”

The best rumor I’ve heard is that one of the members of the Satoshi Nakamoto team, and possibly the true father of Bitcoin, was over eighty years old when Bitcoin finally launched.

Rabbit trails aside, there is sufficient public evidence to surmise that the surviving members of Satoshi Nakamoto, Wright included, when faced with constant threat of doxing apparently made the decision at some point that Satoshi was officially dead, the team had been disbanded, and “we are all Satoshi now.”

Wright did get doxed by a blackmailer and a hacker after that, which somewhat explains the flip-flopping in the later weeks and months over whether Wright was or was not Satoshi.

In a posting to the bitcoin-dev mailing list with the subject line “Not this again.”, the email’s author wrote “I am not Craig Wright. We are all Satoshi.” The address the message was apparently sent from, [email protected], is one of the email addresses formerly used by the creator of bitcoin.

This appears to be what Wright was referring to last weekend when he said, “I am here to kill Satoshi Nakamoto.” It appears that Wright meant that his comments about the scaling debate are not made on the authority of Satoshi, rather he is making his arguments based on their technical strength and consistency with the original vision of a Bitcoin Maximalist. He was saying that the way to answer the scaling debate is through competition.

Here is a puzzle for the readers. See if you can find and document the very first use of the phrase “we are all Satoshi.” Please post what you find in the comments here!

Steemit author, @jokerpravis, summed it up very well.

So it's alleged the person responsible for the most disruptive technology our government and banking industry will ever see, who NO ONE can find or prove exists, was walking around giving out his cover name well before bitcoin was birthed.

The complex REALLY shows through when one person is claiming to be Satoshi, while simultaneously implying that Satoshi is really a group effort, and each of these people, who claim Wright is Satoshi, also are perpetrators of this paradoxical admission.

The answer to the paradox is not that difficult.

We need to stop asking “Who is Satoshi?” because it's an irrational question.

Anyone intelligent enough to build and bootstrap bitcoin would have consulted other experts related to the project. And so the true story is going to involve not one person being responsible for it. We might re-frame the question “Who are those responsible for bitcoin, and how did it come about?”

How Would The Real Satoshi Respond

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of Satoshi for a moment, whoever it really is or was. You are sitting on a Bitcoin account worth well above one billion dollars. But, you are also vulnerable to the taxman, possibly to criminal prosecution for bad things done with Bitcoin, seductresses who like Delilah try to tease your secret out so they can blackmail you, and extortionists who threaten your family.

Recall that the real Satoshi’s last email to the dev team before he abandoned the project in 2011 expressed fear that using Bitcoin to donate to Wikileaks would lead to government persecution of the project. So, we know that the real Satoshi was fearful of the powers that be and how they would view Bitcoin.

Yet, putting ourselves in Satoshi’s shoes again, you turned the project over to other developers and withdrew. But then you watched as those developers made major decisions about the architecture that you might have disagreed with, strongly.

We can imagine that whoever the real Satoshi is, if he is still invested in Bitcoin, which $1 billion of Bitcoin in his “Tulip Trust” account says he probably is, then he must feel caught on the horns of a dilemma. He is proud of his amazing invention and wants to take credit for it. But, to do so puts him in great danger. Like almost all the Bitcoin developers he almost certainly has very strong opinions about the direction that Bitcoin should go. But he also faces very serious risks if he outs himself.

The erratic behavior of Craig Wright is consistent with a man caught in that dilemma.

Consider this email, widely considered to be fake, that was sent from a valid Satoshi Nakamoto email account in August 2015:

I have been following the recent block size debates through the mailing list. I had hoped the debate would resolve and that a fork proposal would achieve widespread consensus. However with the formal release of Bitcoin XT 0.11A, this looks unlikely to happen, and so I am forced to share my concerns about this very dangerous fork.

The developers of this pretender-Bitcoin claim to be following my original vision, but nothing could be further from the truth. When I designed Bitcoin, I designed it in such a way as to make future modifications to the consensus rules difficult without near unanimous agreement. Bitcoin was designed to be protected from the influence of charismatic leaders, even if their name is Gavin Andresen, Barack Obama, or Satoshi Nakamoto. Nearly everyone has to agree on a change, and they have to do it without being forced or pressured into it. By doing a fork in this way, these developers are violating the "original vision" they claim to honour.

They use my old writings to make claims about what Bitcoin was supposed to be. However I acknowledge that a lot has changed since that time, and new knowledge has been gained that contradicts some of my early opinions. For example I didn't anticipate pooled mining and its effects on the security of the network. Making Bitcoin a competitive monetary system while also preserving its security properties is not a trivial problem, and we should take more time to come up with a robust solution. I suspect we need a better incentive for users to run nodes instead of relying solely on altruism.

If two developers can fork Bitcoin and succeed in redefining what "Bitcoin" is, in the face of widespread technical criticism and through the use of populist tactics, then I will have no choice but to declare Bitcoin a failed project. Bitcoin was meant to be both technically and socially robust. This present situation has been very disappointing to watch unfold.

Satoshi Nakamoto

While the email has been dismissed by many as a fake, it is consistent with Craig Wright’s comments from last weekend.

Now, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the current Core dev team. You are some very smart fellows, who received this open source gift from an unknown inventor. You have studied it and become experts in it, and built your reputations upon it. It has made many of you wealthy. You have in many ways taken ownership of it. How would the re-emergence of the real Satoshi affect your interests? Would it threaten you? Would you have to give up your seats of prominence to the real inventor of the system you have claimed as your own?

There are very obvious social and financial interests that would encourage the dev team to dismiss any claimant to the title of Satoshi as a crank. This is evident from the impassioned dismissals of Craig Wright as a sociopath, a crank, a looney tune, and a conman.

There is one article about Satoshi Nakamoto that virtually nobody talks about. That is curious, considering that it was written by the only reporter to be given the exclusive right to publish the real story. Unforunately, it is behind a paywall. But you can get free access for 24 hours if you give your email address.

Here is the final word that Ian Grigg had to say about Craig Wright:

Craig has more knowledge than just about anyone else I've come across in the field. Certainly of Bitcoin, and a lot besides. Here's the clanger: Craig S Wright has the capability to integrate many diverse fields. He's a polymath, which is the roadblock that stops most others no matter how good they are at their select discipline. That's what I mean by transcendent financial cryptographer on this blog, and what I wrote my old fc7 paperabout; it's not about what you know, it's about how you integrate the disparate, discordant fields together.

In the same article Grigg reveals that there has been discord and alienation between the members of the team, and that we might not want to dig up the whole story because it is a painful one.

I can tell you, if you're a friend of Satoshi, you're marked. Everyone who's got close to Satoshi has suffered. Just my one little ol' post alone has cost me dearly - even though I'm not a Bitcoiner, I was tarred for life. And all I did was write a shitty little post - others did much more and the damage was commensurate.

People died for Bitcoin, folks, people died...

And confirming what I said above about personalities:

Craig is not the god you wanted. Like most geeks of extraordinary talent, he didn't get there by working on his social skills - he's your average grade-A certifiable techno arsehole, when you get to know him. Folks, I know this because I grew up with these arseholes, I observed many of them in their natural habitat, or maybe because I am one, and that makes me special. Just like a lot of gifted people in the sector, that is the sacrifice that is made. That we make. That is made over we. Something.

Learn to live with your false vision, as nobody else is going to help you on that - none of the Satoshii are suitable to be a god, not one, and CSW is possibly but arguably the least suitable. OK, I take that back. Let me put it this way - you don't want to treat these arseholes as gods and get caught between them.

Well, Craig Wright is no longer claiming to be Satoshi, though he doesn’t deny it, either. He has entered the Bitcoin scaling debate, not as an authority, but with a set of technical and economic arguments about what is best for the future of Bitcoin.

Craight Wright is not the only Zuckerberg-like personality in the Bitcoin community. Part of the reason that the segwit debate is so contentious and inflamed as that it is being debated by some of the most arrogant, contentious, and overconfident people on the planet, which is to say, highly intelligent computer programmers. Wright is definitely at home in this crowd.

I personally have no dog in this fight. I'm not a programmer. I am not a Bitcoin maximalist, and I view blockchain as a momentous invention; but Bitcoin is merely step along the road to an honest monetary system. The real world favors ecosystems with many players.

Even though Bitcoin is decentralized in terms of the nodes, using it as the one currency to rule them all, is centralized. It requires us to place all the monetary eggs in one basket. The natural world rejects monopolies.

Unlike Dr. Wright, I do not think Bitcoin is the ultimate and final destination, the FINAL SOLUTION to all our monetary woes. But it is certainly a major step towards our liberation and I am very grateful that Satoshi invented it.

But, I also believe it is not in the best interests of the broader Bitcoin community to dismiss what Dr. Wright has to say, regardless of whether you believe his past claim to have been Satoshi.

Dr. Wright did not rest his arguments last weekend on the authority of being Satoshi. In fact he said that he “neither confirms nor denies” that he is Satoshi. Rather, he made the arguments in his presentation from a deep understanding of networks, computer science, and Bitcoin in particular. As Ian Grigg said, Dr. Wright is a polymath. I am certain that whatever he said last weekend will be followed up by published papers before the years end.

Whoever Satoshi is or was, it is clear that he or they did not want to be doxed. We really should honor that. Wright was brought into the limelight, not of his own choosing, but because he was outed by two malicious people trying to shake him down for money. His behavior since then is consistent with a man with internal conflicts. Whether Wright is or was not Satoshi is irrelevant at this point, because Satoshi is dead.

Wright made it clear to the reporter who interviewed him that Bitcoin was a team effort, and he often gave more credit to the other team members than he took for himself. To demonize Wright and call him a fraud is not in the best interest of any of the team members who created Bitcoin. It is disrespectful to all of them.

With regards to SegWit the only relevant question is, "Do Wright’s arguments make sense?"

Please comment!

Note to former Satoshis one and all: I have revealed no new facts here, not trying to dox anybody. All references and inferences in this article were drawn from already published interviews.

Part II - The Wrath of Satoshi


Here is Andrew O'Hagan's The Satoshi Affair complete.

Thank you for a very interesting read. I learned a lot I didn't know and found your balanced reasoning and suggestions to be highly thought provoking.

I'll add to that;it is amazing. And no @cheetah in sight!

I was wondering, is it out of a book? Could it be a book? I was never much into "who was Satoshi" but you're the first person to have sparked my interest.

Thank you for this article. This is interesting history and insight that I wasn't aware of. I really like your point about Bitcoin being a revolutionary technology, a step in the path to something greater. I agree that having one solution would not be a solution - centralized. And I think we are all grateful for Satoshi/Bitcoin's ignition into a revolution that is for the people.

Some links on Craig Wright

May 2016 BBC video

June 14th, 2017 Interview

June 30, 2017 The Future of Bitcoin

iang_fc Ian Grigg tweeted @ 09 Dec 2015 - 22:50 UTC

1/ I've been in contact with f&f of Dr Craig Wright. Here's what pieced together. NB the facts are evolving as you will see.

Disclaimer: I am just a bot trying to be helpful.

cool article

Well for someone who is new to the crypto world, this was a very interesting article about the creation of bitcoin ! Satoshi is fucking mysterious, you know ? A genius indeed. I have to agree on your opinion that bitcoin is only the first step towards a long road.

At one point everyone wanted to be Satoshi; over time it became evident that what the world needed was more than Satoshi. I think it was wise of some part of this world to begin adapting to decentralized currencies free from government/ big organization interferences. It will be wiser still to just drop Satoshi and stick to whomever makes most sense at this point.

Unfortunately for this part of the world, every single coin/ token created after Bitcoin is directly/ indirectly affected by it! We have vested interests and so, we need to carefully trod from here on. As the world watches, these steps matter; step left - you have a minefield, step right - you enter quicksand; just keep walking straight and don't let these monikers mislead us!

This is a well written article @belerophon.

Thanks, bro!

Great post. I like it. Thank you for shearing

One thing I did not discuss in this article is game theory. Let's say you are the real Satoshi Nakamoto and your intent all along was to remain anonymous.

Then some asshole reporters and/or extortionists dox you.

If your reason for not wishing to be known as Satoshi Nakamoto includes the many potential attacks (both legal and criminal) that Satoshi might be exposed to, then there is only one way to resume your previous anonymity.

That way would be to say, yes, I am Satoshi Nakamoto, and then deliberately fail the tests.

After being dismissed as a fake, Wright has been able to resume his work in peace and quiet, for the most part.

Note that in his Bitcoin presentation last weekend, he never claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto. He simply wants his work and opinions about segwit and the future of Bitcoin scaling to be evaluated on their own merits.

That way would be to say, yes, I am Satoshi Nakamoto, and then deliberately fail the tests.

But he didn't fail the tests, not according to the London Review of Books article

Thank you very much for creating, thinking-through, researching, sourcing, writing, etc., ... this excellent piece.

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