The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto remains a mystery, but Ted Nelson has thrown another hat into the ring.
In a slightly weird twilight video, Nelson plays Sherlock Holmes to find his candidate. Nelson is not just another random YouTuber – his 1960 Xanadu project laid some of the foundations for hyperlinks.
He suggests we look at the behaviour of Satoshi in avoiding traditional academic research or to engage once he released Bitcoin into the wild in 2009.
We must then look for someone behaving in a similar way – and Nelson believes he has found the man – a Japanese mathematician Professor Shinichi Mochizuki. Evidence for this is, as Nelson himself admits, a little circumstantial. It rests on how Professor Mochizuki released his solution to the ABC Conjecture – considered one mathematics greatest unsolved problems.
Mochizuki put his 500 page solution on his website in August 2012 and mathematicians are still in the process of checking it. The solution took four years to find and may take longer to check because it is effectively a new branch of mathematics. It amazed the world of maths and soon hit the mainstream media too.
Mochizuki declined to discuss his theory and in Nelson’s words ‘tiptoed away and not deigning to discuss.’ He was asked to lecture on it but refused.
This MO, the theory goes, is so similar to that of Satoshi in releasing Bitcoin then falling into radio silence that they must in fact be the same person – a brilliant mathematician who refuses to engage with the academic community.
But several people object that Satoshi was culturally a cypherpunk not a corduroy-clad academic. Many are certain Satoshi was involved in the cryptography sub-culture of the late 1990s and that Bitcoin brings together not just aspects of that technology but also much of that culture. Nelson’s video also points out that Conan-Doyle knew the answers before providing a supposed way to deduce the answer.
“That is how Sherlock Holmes would do it – look for the pattern aided by an author who already knew the answer.” – Ted Nelson
So maybe Nelson is telling us he knows the answer from another source.
Nelson also explains why he is revealing the identity of someone who wishes to remain anonymous – because he will be revealed eventually and Nelson would like to get credit for a change. Secondly Nelson said Mochizuki and his university deserve the credit he, or they, may be too shy to seek.
Thirdly he wants him to get the Nobel Prize for Economics.
And finally he asks him to turn his “great and all-seeing mind” to “the compelling and less abstract problems of mankind – nuclear weapons, terrorism or pollution perhaps.”
There are of course other candidates – Satoshi is Finnish?
This way for Professor Mochizuki’s website.
Read the CoinDesk guide for more information – Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
The Bitcoin Talk forum thread is here.
Update Sep 2014: Ted Nelson has produced a new video: How Bitcoin Actually Works. In this video Nelson reaffirms his belief that Mochizuki is Nakamoto.