There is no bigger prize in journalism, nor a bigger guarantee of getting your name in every news station on earth, than to uncover who is or was the man or the people that called themselves Satoshi Nakamoto.
In an age of mass surveillance, when privacy is a luxury, the mystery lives on nearly a decade since the person or people first unveiled the latest technological invention: digital money.
At first, the proposed Satoshi candidates were academics, cryptographers, PhD students, renowned mathematicians, even Elon Musk.
Then, Satoshi became more ordinary. A grandpa that so happened to be named Satoshi Nakamoto, a very common name in Japan, like James Smith in US.
Then, Satoshi became an alleged con artist accused of fraud with a long line of evidence to show he can not possibly be the genius.
But who was, or hopefully still livingly is? Can it be true that an Einstein walks among us and we do not know? Is the man, or perhaps even woman, living an ordinary life despite changing the world? Is he (for convenience we’ll stick to just he) a genius at all? Was it perhaps just a one off spark? Maybe an accidental invention? Does any of it really matter?
Stories are what makes humans, and the story of Nakamoto will probably always be told, but will it be as the unsolved mystery, a disappointing let down once or if it is revealed, or a satisfying conclusion?
Perhaps it is too early to tell it. Maybe he is still a very young genius, walking around without any claim to fame, an ordinary person, one of us.
Perhaps he is too old to care for the circus that might follow. Maybe the expiry date for declassifying documents has not passed, although it is doubtful the government would keep secret such great achievement. Their ego too big, the reasons for the secrecy none if it was a government, whoever was behind it in that setting would want the claim, like Tim Berners Lee with the internet.
Maybe it was a group of academics, perhaps in some university somewhere, yet if it was a group one of them would have slipped up somewhere. In contrast, now a decade on, the immaculate care that must have been taken still makes it impossible to crack this puzzle.
And should it be cracked, ethically speaking? Should the man not have the right to choose whether he wishes to reveal himself? Would ethics matter however when your name would be mentioned next to his in every paper, from the remote mountains, to the Whitehouse?
Yet the risk of disgrace is now high indeed, as high as the reward itself. One gets it wrong, and their journalistic career might well end.
Which is why, perhaps, the search is no longer really on. The task simply too difficult, the previous mistakes too many, the implications of a man revealed to face a myth perhaps too great.
The story is just too nice as it stands, but if it is really a genius, would it not be nicer? Einstein on TV, what comedy.
More than that, if he is a genius, could he not reveal more insight? Or is the invention so great, he could not possibly top it.
Plus, when elevated so high, there’s a risk of falling just as quickly. Examples from history are far too many.
Publicity shields one in some ways, but publicity focuses attention too. Thus the decentralized coin with an unknown inventor dropped to the masses as if from above.
Who it was thus in many ways doesn’t matter, and yet in many ways does. A role model for the present and for history. A story that might be far more inspiring than any myth. Or, indeed, the opposite.
Then there’s the element of the heretic who stood up to the banks when no one else could. A modern day Galileo who by code in effect said: and yet it moves. A solution, when all others had words. An evolution of the human race.
A tool to change the trajectory by making many dream again of the capabilities of man and how now and then someone shows up that says something which is utterly self evident yet no one could utter it before the genius does.
Or perhaps we are giving him far too much credit. Maybe its time had simply come. If it was not him, perhaps it would have been someone else. The air demanded someone stands during those fairly dark hours of 2008 and it so happened Nakamoto was that man.
Which, in an abstract sense, does make him us all. An embodiment of collective thought. A product of the digital world. Yet a man in his own right too, a living, breathing thing no different than anyone else. With this dichotomy, in effect, so communicating plenty by itself.