Is Satoshi Nakamoto a Japanese Mathematician?

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  • Satoshi Nakamoto is Japanese mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki, according to tech pioneer Ted Nelson
  • Nelson has doubled down on the theory he first espoused in 2013
  • Nakamoto was “Newton-level genius”

Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, has many possible identities, and a forgotten name has just resurfaced – Japanese mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki. Mochizuki’s name was put forward as a potential candidate in 2013 by veteran technology expert, sociologist and philosopher Ted Nelson, and Nelson has recently doubled down on his theory.

Mochizuki is a “Danceaway Genius”

Nelson, an award-winning technology pioneer who was one of those responsible for the creation of the ‘hypertext’ computing and web language, first credited Mochizuki with the honor of creating Bitcoin in a 2013 YouTube video. In the video, in which he calls Bitcoin “brilliant at every level”, Nelson ‘unmasks’ Satoshi Nakamoto as the eminent mathematician:

I declare that the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the great economist, the great social engineer, the great computer scientist, and the great danceaway genius is none other than… Shinichi Mochizuki, research professor of mathematics at Kyoto University.

Seven years later, Nelson has reaffirmed his belief that Mochizuki is Satoshi Nakamoto in an interview with Forbes, stating that the mathematician is a “Newton-level genius as far as mathematics is concerned” and that “the logic in that piece is still perfectly good”. However, he added that he has no further information to add to his theory since the video was published, and that he won’t give odds on being proved right, saying, “I don’t give odds…no way in hell.

Satoshi Nakamoto Unlikely to Ever Be Publicly Unmasked

Nelson believes that only someone of Mochizuki’s intelligence and mathematical genius could have come up with the concept and execution of Bitcoin, adding that Nakamoto’s “Lone Ranger delivery” of Bitcoin (i.e. releasing it and then leaving it to others to develop) is similar to his approach to other groundbreaking works. This is in contrast to other claimants to the accolade, such as Craig Wright, who has proved himself to be far less than a Newton-level genius, and proclaims loudly from the rooftops that he is Bitcoin’s creator.

Mochizuki now teaches mathematics at the University of Kyoto and, on the assumption that he did create Bitcoin, has indeed severed all ties with it since announcing his intention to move onto other projects in 2011.

Nelson says that Mochizuki will not come forward as Satoshi Nakamoto himself because he is “too shy to seek” the attention of being Bitcoin’s creator, but Nelson wants Mochizuki to get the credit he deserves, and the Nobel Prize for economics that he thinks would come with any such revelation. This might take some time, if it ever happens at all, according to Nelson, who says that the person behind the now famous pseudonym is “in the long grass, and he plays a long game.”