Craig Wright is a lockdown sceptic. Masks and isolation policies “don’t make a difference”, he says. Dr Wright, the Chief Scientist of nChain, says he’s studied epidemiology and is convinced that, despite appearances and government claims, death rates are no worse than usual because “everything else has gone down equal to the number of Covid deaths”. He had the disease himself “months ago” and dismisses the experience as “terrible for a day”.
The real damage from government response to the pandemic, he says, is long term. The disruption in trade affects developing countries: “if you look at the people in Sri Lanka who are not getting fed, the increases in poverty in African countries, the increases in poverty in Bangladesh etc., what we're seeing is individuals who now are being marginalised and pushed into poverty for the first time in a long time.”
As the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, Dr Wright is also sceptical about BTC’s recent dramatic price volatility, dismissing it as “purely manipulation”. He says that it would take thousands of times the amount of currency inflows seen in the crypto market to change the price of gold to the same extent. With BTC, “what we have is a very small market and it’s easy to be manipulated”.
Dr Wright was talking in a wide-ranging interview for the CoinGeek Conversations podcast. In looking back to Bitcoin’s early days, he said that around the time that he released the Bitcoin White Paper in October 2008, he had just returned to Australia from a trip to Microsoft headquarters in Seattle where he’d been discussing a possible role in the Bing search engine and click fraud team.
The 2008 financial crisis put an end to all hiring at Microsoft so it didn’t come to anything but, he said, “I had a whole lot of ideas which Bitcoin would have been part of”. He wanted Microsoft to introduce a Bitcoin-based Internet as a competitor to the ad-based model: “I thought rather than the way Google's doing things, if they could implement micro-payments and have all this run that way, that would actually be a far more effective methodology.”
So does he regret not being able to develop Bitcoin at Microsoft? Wright says that there would have been advantages to him personally in terms of resources and remuneration but that it would have been “an easy life versus something better but more challenging.”
Around that time Wright wrote an essay as part of what he calls this “self-reflective” period in his life. Only published last year, Sisyphus Impenitant refers to the Greek myth of Sisyphus who was punished by Zeus for trying to defy death by having to push a rock uphill, only to have it always roll back to the bottom. For Wright, it was a way of examining personal pressures: “Warrior. Father. Husband. A trilogy of competing stresses.” He rated himself more highly as a warrior and husband than a father.
Wright is known for his long list of academic qualifications and love of acquiring more. He referred, for instance, to an essay he wrote as part of a Masters in English Literature, about one of Shakespeare’s sonnets in which he speculates about the poem’s relation to Elizabeth I and contemporary historical events. In a previous interview he said he was taking 25 degree courses simultaneously. Now he says he’s finished some of those, but that last year he read 2400 books. That works out at an average of six and a half per day. Asked how that’s possible, he says, “I read very fast” and “some books are smaller than others”.