In Budapest, there is a bust by the Danube River. The face is bronze, and blank, so people can see their own faces reflected back at them. It is wearing a hoodie, with the bitcoin logo on the chest.
It is a statue of the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto. Nakamoto is the person or persons who developed bitcoin. They are anonymous and pseudonymous.
They created a decentralised, digital commodity which is now worth more than a trillion dollars globally. It is a peer-to-peer way of transferring money, skipping the banks. It’s encrypted with blockchain technology, which creates digital signatures to prove where the bitcoin has come from.
Wright is an influential entrepreneur. He might be Nakamoto. But he also might not. It is a mystery he could, in theory, solve in seconds (more of that later).
This week Wright was fighting claims from the family of his deceased business partner, David Kleiman, that the pair co-created bitcoin. Therefore, they argued, half of more than $50bn of the original bitcoin belonged to them.
Wright won the battle – a Florida jury found he did not owe the money. His lawyers said the pair were friends who worked together, but that their partnership was nothing to do with bitcoin’s creation.
But behind that court case is a bigger story. Those bitcoin could only be owned by someone who was involved with the venture from the beginning – Nakamoto.
Wright says he is Nakamoto, and Nakamoto is accepted as the creator of bitcoin. And to prove he is Nakamoto, Wright needs to show he controls some of those original bitcoin.
Bitcoin expert Dr David Glance, a University of Western Australia computer scientist, says such a feat would be akin to King Arthur pulling Excalibur from stone. A proof of rightful ownership.
“If you’re going to prove you are who you say you are, you just have to prove you have that key (to the bitcoin),” he says.
“You don’t have to spend it, just move it from one account to another.”
Of course, he says, it’s possible that Wright, or Nakamoto (or whoever he/she/they is/are) could have lost that key.
Earlier this year the New York Times reported that as much as $140bn worth of bitcoin is lost to people who have forgotten or misplaced their keys. A UK man, Stefan Thomas, is one person who forgot his password, which would unlock hundreds of millions of dollars.
When you create bitcoin, Glance says, it’s there, it’s available, it’s owned by the person who “mined” it. (Essentially huge amounts of computer power are used to solve algorithms to create new bitcoins.)
That person then has the key to that bitcoin.
Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
Up until 2010, Nakamato was active online, discussing the development of bitcoin.
They published their workings from the time of bitcoin’s conception, the bitcoin “white paper”, in 2008.
Nakamoto shared plenty of their work, then went to ground just over a decade ago, only to pop up occasionally.
Since then, around the world, amateur sleuths and computer experts and many others have been trying to work out who Nakamoto was – or is. Because whoever created bitcoin is an extremely rich person, and the enigma is an appealing story.
In 2014, a triumphant media pinpointed Japanese-American man Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto as the Nakamoto, tailing him through Los Angeles. Cornered by reporters outside his home, the slightly disheveled man said he hadn’t heard of bitcoin before being contacted by the media, and asked about a free lunch.
Later a post by a “Satoshi Nakamoto” popped up online, declaring they were not Dorian. Then they disappeared again.
In 2015 various reports pointed to 45-year-old Australian Craig Steven Wright as being Nakamoto. “Probably”. Journalists had traced Wright’s online history back to 2008, and found various links that hinted Wright was set to release a cryptocurrency back then and an email that used the Nakamoto name but had Wright’s phone number.
The Guardian reported the email discussed the possibility of lobbying then Australian senator Arthur Sinodinos about bitcoin regulation.
Nakamoto made another appearance, saying he wasn’t Wright.
Other names have been bandied about, including that of entrepreneur Elon Musk, whose tweets about cryptocurrency have the ability to see its value rise and fall.(Musk denied it.)
But it’s still Wright who is the most-oft-speculated-about candidate for Nakamoto. And the recent court case centred around the claims of Kleiman’s family, who say Kleiman – who died in 2013 – was the co-creator of bitcoin.
Glance says whoever Nakamoto is, it is someone who has mined a lot of the early bitcoin, which now just sits there on the blockchain, gathering metaphorical digital dust.
Who is Craig Wright?
Wright is a computer scientist.
A website purporting to be his says he is the “creator of bitcoin – Satoshi Nakamoto”.
It describes him as: “(An) eternal student and researcher. (Blockchain company) nChain chief scientist. Lawyer, banker, economist, pastor, coder, investor, mathematician, stats, and world-curious.”
A 2015 Guardian article points to his LinkedIn page, which shows he has a PhD from Charles Sturt University, and a host of other academic qualifications. He was involved in various computer firms, and was the director of more than a dozen companies.
He has had his share of previous legal trouble, and in 2016 his rented Sydney home was raided by the Australian federal police in a tax-related matter. At the time a police spokesperson said it was not related to any claims he was behind bitcoin.
He was reportedly moving to London with his wife.
That same year (2016) Wright promised he would offer proof that he was Nakamoto by transferring bitcoin from early in its creation, something only the creator of the entire cryptocurrency could do, because of the way the digital signature shows the history of the bitcoin transactions. He said he would present “extraordinary proof”.
Just days later, he wiped that pledge from the internet, and replaced it with a message that said: “I’m sorry.”
He did not have the courage to leave the shelter of anonymity, he said, but he didn’t say he wasn’t Nakamoto.
What happened in court?
In Florida, Kleiman’s family brought a civil case against Wright, claiming it was owed half of 1.1m bitcoin created at the start of the bitcoin enterprise. That bitcoin had to have been mined by someone who was there at the beginning, such as Nakamoto. And the family says Kleiman was with him at the beginning.
That 1.1m bitcoin is now worth about $50bn.
Experts testified that Wright owned the bitcoin, and he successfully defended himself against Kleiman’s family, although he had to pay out $100m in intellectual property rights.
If the jury had found that Wright owed half to Kleiman, Wright would have had to transfer the bitcoin to Kleiman’s family, which would have proven he was Nakamoto.
But they didn’t find that, so it remains a mystery (unless Wright uses the earmarked bitcoin to pay the $100m).
Why does everyone care so much about bitcoin, and its origin?
Many banks are starting to offer cryptocurrency trades, which is unsurprising considering the interest in them, but also seemingly contradicts the notion of having a currency that bypasses financial institutions.
Even the Reserve Bank of Australia governor, Philip Lowe, has signalled an interest in a retail form of cryptocurrency, although he doesn’t foresee them being used in general purpose payments.
Bitcoin is the most widely used and well-known cryptocurrency. Once a fringe idea, more than 100 million people worldwide now use it. But bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, are extremely volatile. Their value fluctuates wildly, so Glance says you won’t be able to buy a cup of coffee with them because the price would go wildly up and down.
“The cryptocurrency world is full of colourful people with big imaginations,” he says.
“The idea of it taking over the world hasn’t transpired.”
It has, however, found a couple of niches.
“It’s fuelling most of the cybercrime we’re seeing today,” he says. “And you can use it to buy drugs online, to extort people, to hire contract killers.”
But you can speculate on it, as you would with shares, although Glance says it’s effectively gambling.
The other reason he steers clear is the environmental impact needed for the immense computer power that creates it.
“(And) it has absolutely no intrinsic value,” Glance says. “It’s just a lot of people subscribing to a Ponzi scheme.”
Most people will happily live their lives never using bitcoin. But it’s still an extraordinary mystery that somewhere out there is a person (or there are persons) who have shifted financial markets, and helped people make enormous fortunes.
VMware has restored availability of vSphere 7 Update, a release that it withdrew in late 2021 after driver dramas derailed deployments.
Paul Turner, Virtzilla’s veep for vSphere product management, told The Register that the source of the problem was Intel driver updates that arrived out of sync with VMware’s pre-release testing program. When users adopted the new drivers – one of which had been renamed – vSphere produced errors that meant virtual server fleet managers could not sustain high availability operations.
Turner said around 30,000 customers had adopted the release, of which around eight per cent encountered the issue. That collection of around 2,400 impacted users was enough for VMware to pull the release before the other 270,000 vSphere users hit trouble. That level of potential problems, Turner admitted, was considered a sufficient threshold to justify a do-over and the embarrassment of a pulled release.
VMware has since reviewed its testing program and procedures in the hope it will avoid a repeat of this error. Doing so, and repairing the release, meant a busier-than-usual holiday period for VMware developers. Turner said those who put in the extra hours will be compensated with extra time off in the future.
VMware also used the time needed to get the release ready to ensure that vSphere 7 U3 thoroughly addresses the Log4j bug. It took the opportunity to update to the latest version of the tool – which is free of the critical bug that allowed almost any code to execute without authorisation.
But VMware decided not to add anything new to vSphere while it addressed Log4j and sorted out the driver drama. Users will have to wait a few more months for another dose of VMware’s usual concoction of security updates and feature tweaks.
There’s more interesting stuff on the way, too. VMware has promised a full vSphere-as-a-Service offering is in the works, and the Project Capitola software-defined memory tech that will pool RAM across hosts. The company has also dropped hints that its plan to run its ESX hypervisor on SmartNICs is nearing release.
VMware has detailed the new/old release here and made downloads available here.®
The EU’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said she was satisfied for the company now known as Meta to pursue its Kustomer acquisition after it struck a deal for rivals.
Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has secured antitrust approval from the EU to pursue its acquisition of US customer services software start-up Kustomer.
The social media giant’s decision to acquire the start-up attracted EU scrutiny last April, months before its rebrand. Then known as Facebook, the company planned to integrate Kustomer’s products, including a chatbot, into its service.
Now, Meta has assured the European Commission that it will provide rivals free access to its messaging channels for 10 years.
The EU was satisfied that this addressed competition concerns which previously arose from the company’s decision to acquire Kustomer.
“Our decision today will ensure that innovative rivals and new entrants in the customer relationship management software market can effectively compete,” EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
Facebook had initially announced its acquisition plan in November 2020. In February 2021, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties wrote to the European Commission outlining its concerns over data that Kustomer had gathered and what might happen to that data under Facebook’s watch. The Commission also received a referral request from Austria flagging concerns over the Kustomer deal.
Other Meta acquisitions have also attracted the scrutiny of competition regulators. Last November, the UK ordered Meta to sell Giphy after its acquisition of the GIF making company was found to have breached competition rules. In the US, it is facing an antitrust suit that could force the company to sell WhatsApp and Instagram.
The EU’s decision to allow Meta to pursue the acquisition of Kustomer comes following a recent vote in the European Parliament in favour of the Digital Services Act, a companion of the Digital Markets Act. The act represents the EU’s attempt to shift the balance of power away from Big Tech in favour of ordinary people.
The long-debated act was hailed by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen as a “gold standard”.
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‘OK, Dad, this is an incredible essay on the effects of grief and grey morality in a postapocalyptic society,” says the eldest child, AKA the millennial. “It’s got proper female characters, progressive takes on sexuality and tonnes of rain.”
“They’ve made a video game of The Handmaid’s Tale?”
“No, Dad. It’s The Last of Us. Don’t worry. It’s still a zombie shooter. And both games have the best ending ever.”
Now she has my interest. Video game endings fascinate me, because my generation started out with arcade games that didn’t have them. Pac-Man kept eating dots and chasing ghosts and the Space Invaders kept coming, wave after incessant wave. The first arcade game that had an actual ending was Dragon’s Lair and nobody actually saw that because it was so hard to complete.
I have a tough start with The Last of Us because I hate games where you search for stuff in every room of a house. I spend my normal life doing that with car keys and headphones. I want games where you walk into a room and all the objects get sucked into a magic pocket. But that isn’t realistic, I hear you cry. Well, neither is only being able to carry three shivs in a world where, despite the zombie apocalypse, cargo pants clearly still exist.
I also hate any form of crafting, because that was what my generation had to do for “fun” as kids before we had video games. Whether it’s smoke bombs from sugar and explosives or a set of Action Man drawers from matchboxes, it’s all boring to me.
“Keep going,” I tell myself. “The millennial says it’s got the best ending ever.”
Throughout the first chapter of Joel and Ellie’s jaunt across a post-infected US I keep trying to guess what this great ending will be. Maybe Ellie isn’t immune to infection after all? Maybe Joel is her real father? Maybe they’re both unwitting participants in some reality TV show, I’m Infected Get Me Out of Here?
As you will all know by now – and if you’ve yet to play The Last of Us then please stop reading – the ending has Joel murder a perfectly innocent and well-intentioned doctor who wants to cut Ellie open to find a cure that will save humanity. But Joel has no truck with utilitarian philosophy, because Ellie has now become a replacement for the daughter he lost. So, he disregards mankind’s future and, by stopping the operation, effectively murders the entire human race (alongside a whole hospital’s worth of doctors).
“Why does he do that?” I asked the millennial, in one of many fantastic discussions we had about the game.
“Because he’s a white male,” came the answer, because it’s 2022 and she’s in her 20s. And maybe she’s right. Either way it is a jaw-dropping, supremely brave ending and the terrific Left Behind side-story also brought the feels.
So, when it came to The Last of Us Part 2, I was beyond excited. Fifty million hours later I was beyond disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong, the millennial nailed it when she said it was a great exploration of the effects of grief and grey morality. But after spending the whole game switching between two strong female characters (literally, have you seen Abby’s arms?) and contrasting factional creeds, you have the final confrontation. They fight. And … they both live. And go their separate ways. The only real damage is Ellie losing a couple of fingers, and the game portrays the worst consequence of this as not being able to play guitar any more. Seriously? That’s the biggest drawback to being fingerless in a zombie apocalypse? The first game ended with Joel murdering an entire civilisation, the second ends with Ellie murdering one song on a guitar. It’s a scene you might have found in The Secret of Monkey Island. It’s hilarious.
The Last of Us Part 2leaves us with exactly the same non-ending as those original arcade games. Ellie and Abby will go on killing to keep their respective postapocalyptic factions going, both driven by the grief of murdered loved ones. They are both trapped, endlessly chasing ghosts. Sounds familiar…
The millennial says this shows there are no winners when it comes to revenge. I say they want both protagonists alive for The Last of Us 3. It’s a cynical cop out. But then, The Last of Us Part 2 is a game that features the most cynical scene ever, where apropos of nothing, after genuinely bravura portrayals of women, transgender and gay characters, alpha female Abby suddenly gets rogered from behind by some guy. It happens out of nowhere. The game spends umpteen hours portraying progressive sexuality, and then it’s like some marketing man decided they needed to toss the incels a piece of red meat to stop them hate-bombing all over 4chan (which didn’t work). It is easily the most gratuitous bit of nudity I have ever seen in games, and I have played The Witcher 3. The rogerer in question even has a girlfriend. Who is pregnant. Way to shit on a sister, Abby.
“It’s basically Pac-Man with gratuitous boobs,” I say to my eldest, who sighs and pours herself a large cup of coffee. This will be another long discussion.