Deceased computer scientist Hal Finney was most likely behind Bitcoin’s Satoshi Nakamoto moniker, according to blockchain sleuths Ungeared.
To narrow down Nakamoto candidates, Ungeared says it’s the first to employ a special scientific technique used to link literary works to their correct authors.
By analysing Bitcoin’s white paper against Nakamoto’s forum posts and private emails, Ungeared found Finney’s “stylistic signature” more similar than oft-cited candidates Nick Szabo, Adam Back, Wei Dai — even Craig Wright.
The peer-reviewed method was developed to study “symbolic sequences” in written texts, and works on the idea that authors prefer certain words than others, which in turn gives each writer a “robust stylistic signature.”
The outcome is a chart like the one below. It plots texts in proximity to each other: the closer they are, the more similar their signatures.
As evidence, Ungeared cites the close proximities between Nakamoto’s Bitcointalk posts and texts from Finney — much closer than the other candidates.
“Furthermore, Bitcoin’s white paper is grouped with Finney’s collection of essays, and Satoshi’s emails are stuck in between the two brackets. At the same time, Szabo’s essays and Dai’s b–money [essays] are far removed,” wrote Ungeared.
The findings corroborate Ungeared’s previous assertion that Nakamoto was an American posing as a Brit by using a word processor set to UK spelling.
But Ungeared’s report does rely on the notion that there exists enough writings from Satoshi and Finney (and all the other candidates) to come to a robust conclusion.
Finney has long been revered as one of the earliest Bitcoin adopters, having received the first ever BTC transaction from Nakamoto in 2009.
Finney sadly passed away in 2014 after suffering from complications related to Lou Gehrig’s disease.
So, Protos urges readers to respect the privacy of Finney’s estate, regardless of what research hits the internet — new or otherwise.
Update 19:15 UTC, Jan 18: Ungeared has since contacted Protos to provide some context about its research.
A spokesperson explained they’ve been interested in the true identity of Nakamoto “since the beginning of time,” but noted the group does not presume to have definitively proven Finney is Nakamoto with this research.
“However, we do believe it provides another stepping stone or another piece of circumstantial evidence. To categorically prove that one is Satoshi is a tall task,” they said.
“Many have mistakenly stated that all one needs to do is to sign a transaction with his key. This alone would not prove it either. As the fact that someone is in the possession of one of Satoshi’s key now, does not prove that they are Satoshi.”
As for who is behind Ungeared’s analysis — the spokesperson didn’t let much slip: “We have been around for a while. At this time, we prefer not to reveal our identity.”
“One thing we would like to emphasize is that we are completely independent and do not take sides in any crypto politics,” they concluded.