A previously private cache of emails exchanged between Satoshi Nakamoto, the cryptic pseudonymous character who created Bitcoin, and early collaborators has provided intriguing new details about the origins and early development of the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency. Some onlookers are even claiming that it decisively unveils Satoshi’s true identity.

The emails, which occupy over 120 pages, were unveiled this week as evidence in an ongoing trial in London’s High Court.

At the center of the case is the Australian computer scientist Craig Wright, who has claimed to be Bitcoin’s creator for years but has failed to provide definitive proof. He is being sued by a consortium of Bitcoin companies seeking to stop him from making legal claims based on the premise that he is Nakamoto.

As part of their testimony against Wright, early Bitcoin contributors Martti Malmi and Adam Back (who many think is Satoshi himself) provided their email conversations with Nakamoto as evidence for the trial. The emails span Bitcoin’s formative period between 2008 and 2011 and touch on topics ranging from technical matters to tidbits of Nakamoto’s personal life and vision for its future.

Energy Use and Environmental Impact

The emails reveal that Nakamoto was aware of and closely considered Bitcoin’s energy usage and potential environmental impact since its nascent stages.

Responding to concerns raised by Malmi in 2009, Nakamoto wrote: “Ironic if we end up having to choose between economic liberty and conservation”.

He goes on to predict that even if Bitcoin mining grew to “consume significant energy,” it would still prove to be “less wasteful than the labor and resource intensive conventional banking activity it would replace”.

This sentiment echoes the arguments made by Bitcoin proponents today, who discuss that the energy spent to secure the network is justified by providing a trustless alternative to legacy financial systems.

Importance of Incentives

The newly unveiled emails also highlight Nakamoto’s emphasis on properly aligning incentives to promote network growth and adoption.

In a June 2009 exchange, Nakamoto advised Malmi that his proposed crypto exchange should be structured as a fixed-rate service rather than a peer-to-peer platform. Nakamoto went on to support the creation of said service and even managed to secure some funding for it. The anonymous crypto expert suggested an “eBay-like” approach for the exchange in reference to establishing an auction system.

In the same exchange, Nakamoto also rejected a proposal to market Bitcoin to users as an investment opportunity. While optimistic about its long-term potential, he warned that it was “dangerous” to use those kinds of words although he asserted that users would eventually “come to that conclusion on their own.” Naturally, he was spot on.

This conservatism reflects Nakamoto’s libertarian philosophy while also evidencing his acute awareness of likely regulatory scrutiny. Over a decade later, the investment use case has become dominant, though questions around securities law remain unsettled.

Thoughts on Anonymity

While Bitcoin is often described as anonymous digital cash, Nakamoto actually placed little emphasis on full anonymity according to the emails. Responding to Malmi in 2009, he wrote:

“I think we should de-emphasize the anonymous angle … we can’t give the impression [that Bitcoin is] automatically anonymous. It’s possible to be pseudonymous, but … If someone digs through the transaction history and starts exposing information people thought was anonymous, the backlash will be much worse if we haven’t prepared expectations…”

This prescient quote seems to predict the advent of blockchain surveillance firms like Chainalysis, whose ability to de-anonymize transactions on transparent blockchains now poses one of the greatest threats to user privacy in the crypto realm. Once the owner of a given wallet is unmasked, all of the actions taken by the wallet can easily be attributed to them because of the public and open nature of the blockchain.

Nakamoto’s stance here also clashes with widespread misconceptions of Bitcoin being a fully anonymous payment solution. In reality, experts caution that Bitcoin offers users more pseudonymity than true anonymity. The revelation that even Bitcoin’s own creator acknowledged this may prompt wider recognition of this fact.

So… Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto?

Besides the insights they provide into Bitcoin’s origins, analysts say that the newly uncovered emails also contain valuable clues regarding Nakamoto’s real-world identity.

Venture capitalist Nic Carter highlighted telltale British spellings like “favour” and “colour” as suggestive evidence that Nakamoto was either based, born, or raised in the UK or a territory where he spoke British English.

Adam Cochran, a popular influencer on crypto Twitter, believes that there is much more to glean from the emails. He wrote a long thread explaining what he found, drawing the conclusion that Hal Finney, a brilliant cryptographer who died of multiple sclerosis (MS) a few years after Bitcoin’s launch. Cochran compared what seemed like unimportant remarks from Satoshi to what we know about Finney and it matched up well.

Cochran found that Satoshi said he was “busy for a few months” at the same time that Finney’s health was quickly declining due to his MS. He also noted that Satoshi said he had a job at PGP Corporation in July 2009, which matches Finney’s work history.

Perhaps Cochran’s most convincing piece of evidence was found in Finney’s blog post “Bitcoin and Me,” which discusses his work contributing to Bitcoin and cryptography as well as his declining health. In the post, he notes that he was forced to retire in early 2011 but he left his PGP job in April 2010 and had no other known jobs after that. Finney likely didn’t mean that he retired from his own projects either because he continued working on a project called BFlick through 2013.

This all seems rather convincing, and it is to a certain degree. However, such details only provide circumstantial evidence regarding Nakamoto’s true identity at best. The emails don’t confirm much of anything but they did give us food for thought. What’s even more interesting is that members of the crypto community don’t seem to be bothered about the possibility that Nakamoto will maintain his anonymity.

A Treasure Trove for Historians

While finding Nakamoto’s true identity remains as elusive as ever, the newly uncovered emails constitute a treasure trove for economic historians. Until now, Nakamoto’s known writings have consisted almost solely of forum posts and his original 2008 whitepaper.

This intimate, behind-the-scenes look provided by this correspondence grants unparalleled insight into Bitcoin’s earliest days. Historians like Pete Rizzo have hailed it as the most significant addition to the Satoshi Nakamoto archives since the whitepaper itself.

Besides the details highlighted above, the emails reveal Nakamoto’s thoughts on a swathe of topics critical to Bitcoin’s early adoption. These include mining incentives, wallet encryption, potential applications, legal concerns, and early exchange development.

They showcase the founder’s visionary foresight regarding issues like network scalability that still crack the heads of Bitcoin developers today.

Industry leaders have taken to X to share excerpts of the emails and convey their significance. When taken together, these fragments point to a wise and cautious leader guided by technical brilliance and steadfast ideology.

In a landscape saturated with opportunists and false prophets, the figure that emerges from this written correspondence stands apart as a character with a much higher moral stand. Though his identity remains obscure, the principles embodied by his invention now belong to the world. In that sense, unmasking Satoshi matters little — his creation speaks for itself.

Reactions Across Crypto-X

The release of Nakamoto’s emails has set crypto-X ablaze, with thought leaders clamoring to offer their hot takes and analysis. Besides their historical significance, the messages’ unveiling amidst fresh doubts over Craig Wright’s Satoshi claims makes them particularly pertinent. But Hal Finney and Wright aren’t the only candidates.

For some, it is more likely that Adam Back, a vital early Bitcoin developer, is Satoshi. This theory is complicated by the fact that Satoshi and Back exchanged emails back and forth. But Nakamoto – whether they are an individual or group – was incredibly bright.

Back could have played 3D chess on the community by emailing himself from a parallel Nakamoto account to disguise his identity in the future while still exerting an influence on the industry’s development as a major advocate and early adopter.

Others have pointed to influential figures making huge bets on Bitcoin (BTC) like the co-founder of MicroStrategy and the man responsible for investing billions of his company’s funds into BTC, Michael Saylor.

There has also been speculation that Nakamoto could be a group, not an individual. This may initially sound like a far-fetched theory, but it is worth noting that the internet began with a whitepaper from an academic group that was funded by a military organization (or just created in their free time).

Meanwhile, for some, the search for true Satoshi seems futile. This group of crypto enthusiasts believes that it was the founder’s goal to stay away from the public eye to let his baby grow independently to reach the highest level of credibility and decentralization possible.

Crypto enthusiasts often argue that if Satoshi were unveiled, it would undermine the perception that Bitcoin is a truly decentralized system. One example of how Satoshi’s presence could heavily influence the development of Bitcoin can be seen in Vitalik Buterin, the founder of the Ethereum network.

Buterin’s views remain highly influential and his opinions regarding the future and course of the Ethereum network have affected significantly the project’s trajectory compared to the still decentralized governance of the Bitcoin network.