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Vitalik Buterin thrashes alleged bitcoin creator Craig Wright

Nerd fight at a South Korean blockchain conference

Vitalik Buterin

Vitalik Buterin, the kid who created Ethereum (Photo by Romanpoet/Wikicommons).

For all the highfalutin talk of how its technology will change the world, the cryptocurrency community is not unlike a large high school with cliques and drama. Sparks flew at a blockchain conference in South Korea on Tuesday when Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin quite publicly called blockchain personality Craig Wright a fraud.

Because it’s 2018, the whole thing was captured on video for public consumption.

There’s a lot going on here, so let’s break it down:

We’re seeing a question and answer session at an event called Deconomy, which bills itself as a global forum for developing a distributed economy. Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s 24-year-old wunderkind inventor, is in attendance to give a presentation. However, in this video, we see him calling out fellow presenter Craig Wright for making a “nonsensical claim.”

Buterin ends with an extremely pointed question about Wright’s attendance: “Why is this fraud allowed to speak at this conference?” The comment gets applause not only from the audience, but from one of the panel moderators on stage. Joseph Poon, co-author of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network white paper, rubs Buterin’s shoulders enthusiastically for taking such a jab at the guy.

Wright responds with a clarification, suggesting that his claims were misunderstood, but he’s quickly shouted down by Poon. “I wrote the Lightning white paper, I straight-up don’t understand your presentation. I’m sure the rest of the audience does not as well.”

Craig Steven Wright has many critics throughout the blockchain world. He has publicly stated that he’s the main reason Bitcoin exists and that he is the person behind the name Satoshi Nakamoto. Important people like Gavin Andresen, the cryptocurrency developer who used to lead the Bitcoin Foundation and corresponded extensively with Nakamoto, suggests that Wright is the guy everyone’s been looking for.

But Wright is unable to provide any public proof of this and has been compared to a con artist more than a few times. He took to Twitter to tend his wounds, likening Buterin’s physical appearance to an MTV cartoon character. You know, just like Satoshi Nakamoto would do.

Then Wright makes the poor decision to challenges Ethereum’s technology, which is an unusual decision to say the least. Bitcoin Cash is a payments system designed to run much faster than Bitcoin, while Ethereum is a decentralized environment for running computer programs with a payments component. They don’t compare gracefully.

 

Buterin responded with his own 62-part tweetstorm, saving the ad hominem attack for his very last tweet. If you’d like to read the Ethereum creator’s full comments about what was on his (highly technical) mind Tuesday, this page does a nice job of making it readable.

Ethereum’s currency, ether, is up 6 percent Tuesday.

Dylan Love is an editorial consultant, contributing reporter, and fiendishly curious technology enthusiast. He owns no cryptocurrencies.