Satoshi Nakamoto – Allegedly Residing In Japan, United States And now Possibly Estonia, According to Research?
Estonia has cultivated a reputation as being a nation with a more positive approach towards innovative and disruptive technologies such as Blockchain. But with that in mind, there is something quite interesting about when exactly the small Baltic country first got involved with the technology – 2008.
For those savvier of what goes on in the crypto and blockchain world, you’ll know exactly what was first conjured up during this year – Bitcoin and the veritable birth of it and blockchain.
An Oddysey That Is Still Developing
Bitcoin, as some will already know, is not the first time the notion of virtual currency was proposed, but it was the first time that it came into being. The idea itself, having been around since the 1990s, being one of the concepts conjured up by the crytpo-anarchic minded academics and students, it has since become a broadly accepted concept – with blockchain technology as we know it now.
Having been formulated by the as yet mysterious and enigmatic Satoshi Nakamoto. It was only in 2018, that Justin Sabaje, a highly active Los Angeles lawyer, took it upon himself in order to dig into and finally [hopefully] uncover just who exactly this mysterious creator is. Just where his personal investigation brought him to was pretty unusual, at least compared to other theories out there – it brought him across oceans to Estonia.
Interestingly, while digging more into how exactly Estonia makes use of blockchain technology, there were a range of documents which detailed and listed the kind of blockchain it uses, just how it was built, and who was part of the team that allowed for it to finally be developed and launched.
According to the documentation, this is one of the first countries to actually implement a blockchain solution on a national level – having officially put it into action back in 2012. But what prevents us from just accepting that and moving on is the fact that, digging further into this documentation – it had actually begun testing back in 2008. So, naturally there were questions circulating as to why.
Sabaje himself was under the impression, according to some of the clues he had been following, that one of the people of interest was a man by the name of Helge Lipmaa, and went on to provide a good deal of evidence, albeit circumstantial in nature. An example of this circumstantial evidence included the interestingly identical displayed birthdays of both Satoshi Nakamoto and Lipmaa. Lipmaa had also been responsible for the applied process of timestamping digital documentation, and had actually placed a special emphasis on the concept of blockchain technology for his personal Doctoral thesis back during the 1990s.
Along with this thesis, Lipmaa had also been an active defender of it during his time at the University of Tartu in 1999. The range of evidence does continue on, with some of it concluding that, with the additionally interesting fact that his personal blog was shut down during 2008. At the same kind of time that Nakamoto’s blog became exceptionally active.
While the amount of evidence makes for an interesting case, Lipmaa categorically denies any kind of connection with Nakamoto. In addition to this overt denial, Lipmaa has since stated that he has, and wants nothing to do with the topic, thanks in large part to the onslaught of press enquiries he has received in the aftermath of it, due to Sabaje sending his findings to a series of major international news outlets.
While this investigation turned out to be a bit of a dead end for Sabaje, he was on the right kind of tracks in believing that it was Lipmaa, considering the fact that he and Ahto Buldas were both involved in research together on the concept of linked timestamping.
While there was a pretty interesting kind of paper trail heading over to the Baltic, there is a different theory being put out there by another writer. While they do go on to concede that it’s not a wholly unique theory to suggest that Satoshi may refer to a collective of people as opposed to just being one person.
But, what this writer did find when delving into the kind of history that the nation of Estonia has had with blockchain technology, along with the company that actually designed it, theories started to percolate as to whether this particular company was, in fact, Satoshi Nakamoto. And if not the company in its own right, then at least the founder of it.
The company itself, more commonly known as Guardtime, is one of the leading developers and providers of bespoke blockchain solutions for governments, as well as major corporations across the world. In the past, these have consisted of some pretty big names such as Verizon and Ericsson. When it comes to deals with international governments – these consist of the United States, China, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, along with the Kingdom of Thailand.
Each of these countries has since signed deals in order to collaborate with Guard time in order to develop highly secure blockchain solutions for incredibly sensitive and major sectors of their governments.
Now For The Incredibly Interesting Part
If we actually take look through the news regarding Guardtime during the time frame of 2008 to 2012, one of the results comes up as showing that the company has been working with blockchain technology since 2008.
Users can find this particular screen and page using the Wayback Machine to find it, being dated December 28, 2007:
What we find out from some of these pages, according to the writer, is that the founder of Guardtime is a Mike Gault. So here is where it delves into a mission akin to Atlas Shrugged. And it turns out that you don’t exactly need to look that far – considering that he has an online bio on Crunchbase:
Mike Gault is the current CEO and Founder of Guardtime. Gault has led the company for the last 10 years (taking him to 2008/9 easily). Mike Gault started his career by conducting research while residing in Japan on the numerical analysis of quantum devices. From here, Gault then spent the next 10 years as a quant and derivatives trade with both Credit Suisse and Barclays Capital in Tokyo.
Mike Gault has since recieved a PH.D specializing in electronic engineering from the University of Wales, as well as an MBA from the Kellogg-HKUST Executive MBA Program.
Taking into consideration the fact that Gault, being a graduate of the University of Wales, while also being a long time resident of Japan would go a long way to explaining the various time-stamps for correspondence with Nakamoto, as well as the perfect command of English that he had.
“Nakamoto claimed that work on the writing of the code began in 2007. (Guardtime fired up its servers on 07/07/2007, as mentioned below)”
“He provided some commentary on banking and fractional-reserve banking. On his P2P Foundation profile as of 2012, Nakamoto claimed to be a 37-year-old male who lived in Japan, but some speculated he was unlikely to be Japanese due to his use of perfect English and his bitcoin software not being documented or labelled in Japanese.”
The evidence demonstrating his written sensibilities is shown through his correspondence through forum posts as well as personal emails to colleagues.
“Occasional British English spelling and terminology (such as the phrase “bloody hard”) in both source code comments and forum postings led to speculation that Nakamoto, or at least one individual in the consortium claiming to be him, was of Commonwealth origin.”
“Moreover, the first bitcoin block that could only be mined by Satoshi contains the encoded text The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks which implies that he was reading London’s The Times newspaper at the time of the inception of bitcoin.”
Along with this amount of evidence, there is also an accompanying publication based in Estonia, which comes emblazoned with a Google timestamp from December 18th, 2008, bus having been dated in August 2009 within the actual publication.
One of the other potential smoking guns that exists in the mind of this writer, demonstrates that Guardtime was officially established back in 2006. Was this a mistake? Or more proof?
“Japan Guard Time Incorporated –
Awarded Red Herring’s top 100 companies in Asia, Guardtime was founded in 2006 by two cryptologists named Mart Saarepera and Ahto Buldas as well as the current CEO – Mike Gault. GuardTime offers a scalable, highly available keyless signature service.”
“Whether data from around the world is stored on a disk, travels through a network, or is deposited on the cloud, you can prove the time, source and integrity of data throughput throughout the data lifecycle. We provide keyless signature services.”
There is yet more telling evidence and confusion within a particular written interview with Mike Gault from around 2012/2013. It contains a series of clues and demonstrates a range of connections both Gault and GuardTime itself have to the start of blockchain technology. These are some of the first paragraphs.
“In 1988, when the digital world was still in the distant future, two young students of cybernetics — Märt Saarepera and Ahto Buldas — met at the Tallinn University of Technology. Some years later, Saarepera travelled to Tokyo as an exchange student and dived into the world of applied information security and cryptography, publishing in various scientific journals. At the same time, Buldas stayed in Tallinn, working on digital signatures, the latest rage all around the world.”
“At the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Saarepera met two people who later became the key figures behind Guardtime. First he struck up a friendship with his course-mate Mike Gault, who was studying quantum transistors.He then found common ground with the well-known Japanese venture capitalist, technology guru, DJ and writer Joichi Ito.”
“Ito, the founder of the first ever Japanese website, invited Saarepera to work in his business incubator, Neoteny Labs. In the second half of the 1990s, Saarepera and Buldas made big plans. They discussed the nitty-gritty of the global information security system. They looked for development funds. They attracted the interest of the Estonians who had founded Skype and, together with some partners, Skype invested over 15 million Estonian kroons (about 560,000 euros) in the enterprise.”
The evidence continues.
“In autumn 2007, Ito visited Tallinn in order to formalise his personal investment in Guardtime. He visited the Skype team led by Toivo Annus, and in his subsequent blog post he had only good things to say about Estonians and the free wifi network of Tallinn. The quality of the latter supposedly surpassed the wifi of Frankfurt Airport but not that of Ito’s own Tokyo office. Guardtime received a new impetus.Ito became an important person in setting the direction of the company. On the magic date of 07.07.07 the clock of the servers was started and the history of Guardtime began. Now it was possible to check and issue signatures.”
Taking a Dive Into The Life Of Joichi Ito
The writer then dives into the like of the previously mentioned Joichi Ito. Ito himself was born in Japan, but has since lived in both Canada and the United States until he was 14, when he and his family returned to Japan. Even with these series of moves, Ito himself continued to attend an American-influenced School. While he lived in the United states, this would put his time cycle several hours behind that of Japan. When it comes to the hours of inactivity for Satoshi Nakamoto, his typical hours of inactivity and sleep would generally have to be between 1am and 7am.
This would make for a more than logical time frame for many of us to sleep during. It is also likely that Ito learned his fair share of British / English phrases while he attended his more internationalized school.
While also attending this international school, Io has since built up a reputation for himself as a well known and accomplished venture capitalist, being one of the early stage investors in companies like – 3Dsolve, Dopplr, Formlabs, SocialText, Flickr, Kongregate along with a wide array of other internet based companies.
According to a more publically facing profile of his, Ito is also known as:
“A vocal advocate of emergent democracy and the sharing economy, Ito is a doctoral candidate in Business Administration focusing on the sharing economy at the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy, Hitotsubashi University. He is the author of Emergent Democracy. Ito is Senior Visiting Researcher of Keio Research Institute at SFC. In May 2011, it was announced that Ito’s company, Digital Garage, will provide PR, marketing, product marketing research and market research for Linkedin Japan.”
About Märt Saarepera And Ahto Buldas
According to sources, we have both Mart Saarepera and Ahto Buldas to thanks for the invention of the Hash Calendar
“Their design goal was to remove the need for a trusted third party i.e. that the time of the timestamp should be verifiable independently from the issuer of the timestamp.”
According to an article that was officially published by LHV within its dedicated forums in 2008, it was further noted.
“The technology magazine Red Herring put the world’s most innovative companies at the end of January. Of the 1,200 companies, hundreds of the most innovative in the world were selected after several rounds. In 2006, GuardTime, founded by Estonians Märt Saarepera and Ahto Buldas, won the Red Herring TOP 100 place.”
The LHV article goes into further detail.
“GuardTime is engaged in technology development, which is a timestamp or a digital fingerprint. Tracking devices and programs and technology developed by GuardTime can determine when files are actually created. GuardTime technology can be implemented by any authority that needs to prove when digital data was created. Thanks to the GuardTime team, Alex Vieux, head of Red Herring, said he was the best choice after the winners were announced.”
In addition to this information about the two founders. There is also an accompanying photo that is available to view via Flickr dated back in 2007 – showing Märt Saarepera standing in front of a white board which appears to have an outline of what we know as being a Merkle Tree – a layer solution for dealing with processing information at speed. It is also found that the photo itself appears to have been taken by Joichi Ito.
So what exactly does this mean? Could this forum post along with the photograph be some of the first pieces of evidence that we have of the team working to build the very first blockchain?
Ahto Buldas himself also took to the internet on 2007 in order to publish a paper which showcases the following:
“We prove in a non-black-box way that every bounded list and set commitment scheme is knowledge-binding. This is a new and rather strong security condition, which makes the security definitions for time-stamping much more natural compared to the previous definitions, which assume unpredictability of adversaries. As a direct consequence, list and set commitment schemes with partial opening property are sufficient for secure time-stamping if the number of elements has an explicit upper bound”
Buldas goes into further detail about commitment schemes as well as more information about cryptography.
“Commitment schemes are basic building blocks in numerous cryptographic protocols. The most important properties of commitment schemes are binding and hiding. A commitment is hiding if it reveals no information about the committed message and binding if it is impossible to change the committed message afterwards without detection.”
“However, Buldas et al  pointed out a flaw in the security proof of . By giving a carefully crafted oracle separation they showed that pure collision-resistance is insufficient to prove that the hash tree time-stamping schemes  are secure. In other words, either there are collision-resistant functions that are still insecure for time-stamping, or the security of time-stamping schemes follows from currently unknown complexity-theoretic results.”
When It Comes To Blockchain Technology – Surely This is an Outline?
Another piece of information that makes this investigation all the more interesting for the writer is the fact that there was an article dated last year on Issuu, which makes the argument that GuardTime was actually working on the concept and application of blockchain technology in a practical sense before Satoshi’s Bitcoin.
Through the use of the Wayback Machine, there were a large number of grants for research submitted to the Cybernetica organization. These consist of various research proposals such as – ‘Privacy Mining: Cryptographic Methods (ETF6848) which surfaced between 2006 and 2008, along with the 2003/2004 proposal ‘Cryptographic Methods to Ensure Consistency of Database Query Responses (ETF5568).
So, in summary, the writer had managed to find this information over a matter of hours. And while it is all based upon speculation, it’s fair to say that the researcher is onto something pretty profound here. The writer then goes on to explain why there are so many companies that invested into GuardTime’s application of blockchain technology with relative speed and ease, this would lead the company to become the leading face for governmental and business-facing blockchain applications in the world.
Maybe the reason we’re not getting so much in the way of information from this illustrious Satoshi Nakamoto is because he is compounded by some kind of business related of governmental non-disclosure agreement. To go even further, the writer muses that maybe this is also the reason why Satoshi’s wallet has not been touched since he first deposited the BTC into it – because it’s owned by a conjoint Estonian/Japanese industry agreement or their governments.
While these are certainly some plausible theories provided, the truth certainly remains to be seen, for now.