Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous creator of the wildly divisive digital currency bitcoin, has been nominated for the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. Writing in The Huffington Post, UCLA professor of finance Bhagwan Chowdhry says that he is using his official nomination to nominate Satoshi for his work on bitcoin.
Digital currency bitcoin was created in 2009, but almost nothing is known about its inventor. His identity was kept secret from all members of the bitcoin community, and he slowly phased out his contributions as the technology grew in popularity.
He now hasn't been heard from in years—although after Newsweek named a Japanese-American man, Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, as being the "real" Satoshi in 2014, an account linked to the creator posted a message: "I am not Dorian Nakamoto."
One popular theory for the identity of Nakamoto is Nick Szabo, a developer who had worked on creating digital cash prior to the launch of bitcoin, and is now involved in the bitcoin space. Szabo has denied the connection, however.
The lack of hard facts about its creator hasn't stopped bitcoin exploding in popularity, however. A single bitcoin is now worth $384, and has a die-hard following of tech enthusiasts, libertarians, and privacy activists—as well as criminals, who use the anonymous nature of the digital currency to help facilitate crime.
In the (admittedly unlikely) event that Satoshi wins in 2016, and he doesn't come forward to collect the award himself, Chowdry says he would be happy to accept the award "on behalf of" the mysterious creator.
You can only nominate people to be awarded the Nobel Prize — widely viewed the highest accolade in economics — if you have been invited by the Economic Sciences Prize Committee. And typically, every part of the nomination process is totally secret: "The names of the nominees and other information about the nominations cannot be revealed until 50 years later," the Nobel Prize's official website says.
In fact, it's possible that Chowdry, by going public with the nomination, has violated official rules. The 50-year restriction "concerns the nominees and nominators, as well as investigations and opinions related to the award of a prize." It's not clear what breaking this rule will mean for the professor's nomination.