Elon Musk has taken a spin as a private eye in attempting to solve one of the great mysteries of the cryptocurrency world: Who is the real person behind the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto that first proposed the concept of Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) 13 years ago?
What Happened: In an interview on Lex Fridman’s podcast, the Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) chief executive aimed his suspicions at Nick Szabo, the computer scientist whose 1998 proposal of a decentralized digital currency called “bit gold” was widely seen as a precursor to Bitcoin. While Musk stressed that he “obviously” didn’t know if Szabo was Nakamoto, he believed there was evidence pointing in that direction.
“He seems to be the one more responsible for the ideas behind Bitcoin than anyone else,” Musk said, observing that one could “look at the evolution of ideas before the launch of Bitcoin and see who wrote about those ideas.”
Musk added that it appeared “Nick Szabo is probably, more than anyone else, responsible for the evolution of those ideas. He claims not to be Nakamoto, but I'm not sure that's neither here nor there. But he seems to be the one more responsible for the ideas behind Bitcoin than anyone else.”
Why It Matters: The foundation for today's cryptocurrency environment can be traced to "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System," a Nakamoto-bylined white paper published on the cryptography mailing list at metzdowd.com in October 2008. Nearly three months after that was published, Nakamoto released version 0.1 of the Bitcoin software on SourceForge and introduced the network by setting the parameters of a Bitcoin genesis block with a reward of 50 Bitcoins.
Over the years, several attempts have been made to unmask Nakamoto, with Szabo being among nearly one dozen potential suspects. Szabo has repeatedly denied that he is Nakamoto and some theorists have insisted Nakomoto is more than one person hiding behind the pseudonym.
In a July 2014 email, Szabo responded to an author's accusation that he was the developer of Bitcoin by saying, "I'm afraid you got it wrong doxing me as Satoshi, but I'm used to it."
While Musk theorized that Szabo was the most likely candidate, he also insisted it didn’t matter and called up Shakespeare’s “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” to emphasize his point.
“What is a name, anyway?” he mused. “It's a name, attached to an idea. What does it even mean really?”
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