While everyone is excited about the JPM coin and institutional investors, in the shadows lies a really underappreciated group of people who are working hard to resolve the problems faced by the industry. Academia is something that is often overlooked in the crypto space. Crypto has evolved independently from academia, unlike other technologies which originated from universities and scientific labs. This is not to say there were no contributions from the research and scientific community. Recently, universities have made some amazing work and contributions to crypto.
Digital currency initiative (DCT)
Digital currency initiative is a community by MIT Media Lab, with participation from faculty and students from across the institute, focusing on Bitcoin and more generally cryptocurrencies. The Initiative will explore vital research topics that the faculty and students will engage in with the support and participation of some Media Lab member companies. Currently, the initiative is focusing on four main projects – Bitcoin vending machine, zkLedger: Privacy-preserving auditing on distributed ledgers, Digital Fiat Currency, and Lit: A Lightning Network Node. According to the website, ”The Lightning Network is a decentralized system for an instant, high-volume micropayments that remove the risk of delegating custody of funds to trusted third parties”, essentially solving the scalability issue faced by Bitcoin. Digital fiat currency deals with issuance of digital fiat currencies and what role central banks will play in the process. zkLedger combines techniques from modern cryptography to analyze private data, and at the same time ensures the integrity of that analysis by committing the private data on a blockchain which is verified by all participants.
Center for Blockchain Research(CBR)
The creation of the Center for Blockchain Research was announced by Computer scientists at Stanford University in June 2018. Their stated mission is to research on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies. The center brings together engineering, law, and economics faculty, as well as post-docs, students, and visitors, to work on technical challenges in the field. The center will offer blockchain related courses in order to educate professionals and students on how to use blockchain technology. Two of the most famous contributions by the center are stellar consensus protocol and bulletproof transaction.
Partnership to improve cybersecurity
Luxembourg based VNX exchange, along with Luxemburg University partnered to excel at the aspect of cyber security for crypto platforms. The foci of this endeavor are criminal activities such as hacks, scams etc. They are also focusing on money laundering, specifically at regulatory compliance such as KYC. Matters concerning an individual transaction, its verification and plugging any vulnerabilities are also researched.
University Course, Tokyo University
The University of Tokyo is taking a more traditional approach by providing courses with syllabi like entrepreneurship with blockchain technology and management of startups. In the hope of creating interest among students around blockchain hopefully leading to new innovations and startups, the course is funded by the donation of Ethereum foundation along with several companies striving to achieve a business model where it is beneficial for users, companies, and society. The total donation amount to 800,000 dollars.
Academia is the unsung heroes of the crypto world. The delayed entry of academia into crypto is cited as the key reason for this. Like every other technological breakthrough in the past century universities will be at the forefront, whether be it in the form of preparing new professionals for the industry or by solving the problems faced by it, their contribution is nothing to be overlooked.
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