Fake Satoshi Craig Wright on Asimov, Pseudonymity and Why E-Cash is Still Relevant

Craig Wright continued to try and convince the world that he was Satoshi Nakamoto this week, even after WikiLeaks released a fairly damning batch of files all but confirming that he wasn’t.

But that didn’t stop Wright from doubling down, and on Saturday he released another Medium screed detailing the many reasons why he can’t conclusively reveal himself to be Satoshi Nakamoto.

Along the way he compares himself to Isaac Asimov’s Hari Seldon, makes some intriguing points on the subject of pseudonymity vs anonymity, and pulls the example of E-Cash from the 1990’s as a reason for why Bitcoin (SV?) can never be truly secretive.

Craig Wright’s ‘Foundation’

According to Wright, the reason he can’t just use his private key to move Satoshi Nakamoto’s original BTC holdings is because it would only cause more problems than it would solve. His reasons for this are vague, and repeated throughout (the way of the huckster in general?).

Wright then goes on to imply that time-locked releases via the blockchain could be the manner in which he chooses to reveal himself – an idea he says he took from Asimov:

“Something people don’t understand about Bitcoin is that it is also a time lock. Bitcoin with nLockTime allows for the pseudonymous release of information at defined times. It’s a concept that I took from Asimov. It is aimed to ensure that information is provably released when the author chooses. Only when the author chooses.”

How long he intends his Seldon-like drip-feeding of clues to last is anyone’s guess, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends with an anti-climactic reveal of a ‘second foundation’ – which we once again must wait for to be revealed.

Can Bitcoin be Anonymous?

While describing his own pseudonymity, he also touched on that of Bitcoin’s (I assume Wright is referring to his own pet project, Bitcoin SV, although the same would apply to BTC, BCH, etc).

Wright referenced the failure of 1990’s digital money solution, E-Cash, and pointed out that privacy doesn’t always mean anonymity. He wrote:

“If you want privacy, the last thing you want is anonymous money, because anonymous money allows every action to be traced using legally viable methods and law.”

Wright points out that anonymity brings scrutiny, namely from government agencies. That’s why Wright says Bitcoin can never succeed as a truly anonymous currency.

This 1997 paper titled: ‘The Unintentional Consequences of E-Cash’ suggests something similar, and describes how the very thing that was created to foster privacy could prove to be the same thing that destroys it:

“If the World Wide Web or its successors become fee-based systems in which readers are charged for access, consumers who use traceable digital cash will find that their reading habits as well as transactions become valuable, tradeable data. This will lessen their privacy and could have a chilling effect on readers and, possibly, on authors also.”

Twenty years on from the paper’s publication date and its authors appear to have been remarkably prescient. Will Hari Seldon…  I mean Satoshi Nakamoto… I mean Craig Wright prove to be just so?

Disclaimer: The author owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Greg Thomson is a freelance writer who contributes to leading cryptocurrency and blockchain publications like CCN, Hacked, and others.