in the footsteps of a faceless genius


Satoshi Nakamoto is a bit like the William Shakespeare of the Web, the “Iron Mask 3.0”. Known worldwide for having created bitcoin, a dazzlingly successful cryptocurrency in 2008, it remains faceless and its real identity has not been confirmed. As the title suggests, The Satoshi Mystery does not promise to unlock the secret, but lists all the elements known to date on what is presumed to be a genius programmer. Better, this miniseries, which is devoured like a spy fiction, will allow the uninitiated to master the terms “blockchain”, “cryptocurrency” or “cypher punk” …

To achieve this coup de force in six ten-minute parts, the production appropriates the visual codes of the anime (is not Satoshi Nakamoto supposed to be of Japanese nationality?), To which she adds interviews with specialists and the fictitious account of the reflections of the interested party, formulated in the first person, in voice-over, by the actor Thibault de Montalembert.

The first episode lays the foundations. The voice explains his empathy with the cypher punks, an activist group born in San Francisco in 1993. Like them, Satoshi Nakamoto wanted to create a system of communication on the Web, free and independent of all control – States, central banks, GAFA. Better than them, he perceives that, to achieve this, the Internet needs a currency “Anonymous, tamper-proof and without intermediary”.

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Satoshi Nakamoto will take advantage of the financial crash of 2008 to launch bitcoin, by publishing his White Paper on October 31, then his code on January 3, 2009, thus launching the process of “mining” (validation of a transaction) in a database of open data shared by its members (the blockchain), without depending on any central body – but generating a strong carbon footprint, subject covered here.

Collective hysteria

What will users do with it? The title of episode 2, War is declared, does not bode well. To the point of leading the inventor to retire in 2011. From now on, there is no one to sue, to attack, to put in prison. From then on, the hunt (which relates in episode 3) is launched by the media – even if it means handing over to the pack, as is the case Newsweek on March 6, 2014, an unfortunate namesake.

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Today, specialists argue that the mysterious creator of bitcoin would own 1.1 million. A success (episode 4) based on scarcity, bitcoin being limited from its creation to 21 million units. When we know that, on November 3, the price of the cryptocurrency came close to its all-time high, at 66,000 dollars (58,670 euros), we understand the collective hysteria surrounding the phenomenon. « I had become the helpless observer of my creation (…). I was going to find myself facing what capitalism produces more monstrous ”, makes Satoshi speak his voice (episode 5).

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He described Mark Zuckerberg, the boss of Facebook, which in 2019 created libra, his own cryptocurrency, of “Destroyer of the world”. “We cypher punks prophesied chaos. In response, I, Satoshi, had created bitcoin ”, said the voice of Thibault de Montalembert. Who me ” ? Some advance the hypothesis of a man, a woman, a group of friends, or even an algorithm. Unless, to paraphrase Alphonse Allais about Shakespeare, Satoshi never existed and his codes were written by “A stranger who bore the same name as him”

The Satoshi Mystery. The origins of bitcoin, episode 1 Genesis, by Rémi Forte (2021, Fr., 6 x 10 min). Youtube Instagram