The ‘creator’ of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, is the world’s most elusive billionaire. Very few people outside of the Department of Homeland Security know Satoshi’s real name. In fact, DHS will not publicly confirm that even THEY know the billionaire’s identity. Satoshi has taken great care to keep his identity secret employing the latest encryption and obfuscation methods in his communications. Despite these efforts (according to my source at the DHS) Satoshi Nakamoto gave investigators the only tool they needed to find him — his own words.
Using stylometry one is able to compare texts to determine authorship of a particular work. Throughout the years Satoshi wrote thousands of posts and emails and most of which are publicly available. According to my source, the NSA was able to the use the ‘writer invariant’ method of stylometry to compare Satoshi’s ‘known’ writings with trillions of writing samples from people across the globe. By taking Satoshi’s texts and finding the 50 most common words, the NSA was able to break down his text into 5,000 word chunks and analyse each to find the frequency of those 50 words. This would result in a unique 50-number identifier for each chunk. The NSA then placed each of these numbers into a 50-dimensional space and flatten them into a plane using principal components analysis. The result is a ‘fingerprint’ for anything written by Satoshi that could easily be compared to any other writing.
The article itself is dubious and unsourced and borders a bit on conspiracy theory, but the underlying concept about stylometry and its implications to privacy will be interesting to many. Naturally, it’s not much new.
Interestingly it didn't stand for digital currency, but a more familiar liquid one.
In the cold opening of Cheers, Season 9, Episode 23 “Carla Loves Clavin” aired on March 21, 1991, Norm Peterson (portrayed by George Wendt) invents the original definition of what would ultimately be adopted as the iconic symbol for Bitcoin. Interestingly at the time it didn’t stand for digital currency, but a more familiar liquid one.
Norm: Okay Rebecca. Um. Here’s the deal, I’ll paint the whole office including woodwork, and uh, it’ll run you 400. Rebecca: 400 bucks sounds reasonable. Norm: Oh no, that’s 400 beers, the B with the slanty line through it, it’s kinda my own special currency.
The first generation of the digital revolution brought us the Internet of information. The second generation—powered by blockchain technology—is bringing us the Internet of value: a new, distributed platform that can help us reshape the world of business and transform the old order of human affairs for the better.
Blockchain is the ingeniously simple, revolutionary protocol that allows transactions to be simultaneously anonymous and secure by maintaining a tamperproof public ledger of value. Though it’s the technology that drives bitcoin and other digital currencies, the underlying framework has the potential to go far beyond these and record virtually everything of value to humankind, from birth and death certificates to insurance claims and even votes.
Perhaps not necessarily this particular book which appears to be on the overview side, but sometime this year I’d like to delve more deeply into the concept of blockchain and the tech behind it.