Friday, March 7, 2014

A Forensics Analyst Who Worked On The Newsweek Story Explains How They Converged On Dorian Nakamoto

Nice report from Rob Wile at Business Insider:

It now appears a toss-up as to whether Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto is the same Satoshi Nakamoto who created Bitcoin.
Newsweek reporter Leah McGrath Goodman continues to stand by her assertion that the Temple City, Calif. resident created the worldwide digital currency phenomenon.
Dorian Nakamoto denies it.
McGrath Goodman was assisted in her reporting by Sharon Sergeant, who in the Newsweek piece is listed as a forensic analyst. 
A systems engineer by training with experience in computing security, military protocol analysis, and artificial intelligence, Sergeant said everything she found converged on an individual with a background apparently similar to hers — and who ended up sharing a name with Bitcoin's creator.
"I said, 'I think I know this guy — he wears a pocket protector, he has a slide rule, he comes from that genre,' which was very different from other characterizations," she told BI by phone Friday. 
Sergeant started out by looking at the original Bitcoin spec paper, and immediately seized upon references to what she said were old-school technological tropes: disk space and and Moore's Law. That pointed to someone with a long career in computing, something McGrath Goodman confirmed about Dorian Nakamoto in her reporting.

"The idea of conserving any kind of resources, and this is part of my formation, my long background in systems testing, that was a critical issue. But those are very very old-time concerns," she said. "To even mention disk space, things like that — disk space is cheap! And Moore's Law is an old maxim that computing power will double. We've gone exponentially away from Moore's law, but that was what it was all about in that interim period."
One element seized upon by many informal Nakamoto sleuthers is a discrepancy between the language used in the Bitcoin paper and in online conversations in which Satoshi was a participant. In an interview with Business Insider, McGrath Goodman said it appeared Nakamoto would shift his register depending on his audience. Sergeant says that from her perspective, the language discrepancies were insignificant.
"I was really surprised that people would do such superficial work on trying to look at how Satoshi Nakamoto wrote," Sergeant said. "The 'two spaces after a period' thing — there's an evolution of that particular pattern — it actually continues today — but that's the way Satoshi Nakamoto's generation was taught. So all those superficial things — the references to the British spelling, we said well that's really kind of random. There are so many things that were superficial."
She continued:
"I said, 'People are running with that too much, it's too easy to do, particularly in technology, particularly if you work with multinational people, you pick up things."
Despite all the denials, Sergeant says all the evidence she found still points to Dorian Nakamoto.
"It still comes down to the fact that we could not rule him out. And we tried. You don't want to go down 50 million paths barking up the wrong tree. There was a point at which we turned everything over to the journalist, and now it's, 'you gotta talk to people and see if there's any more info that does not converge.' And the only thing that does not converge is Dorian says it's not him."
But even his denials fit the stereotype, she said.
"I don't know whether that's true or not, but I have seen people deny everything up to the last minute. So my confidence level in the research is, this is the character of the developer, and the name, but more so the career-path of Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto does converge."


  1. What about this guy?:

  2. Consider for a moment that our government is probably using people like this lady to pick drone strike targets.

  3. But what are you complaining about? The police arrived and based on this lady's data collection Satoshi's threat matrix was 2 points below "kill the dog" level and a full 10 points below "incinerate the compound". So it sounds like Satoshi should remain a "person of interest" until he is fully vetted. And I'm glad the police and the Newsweak reporter all made it home safe to their families.