While Bitcoin may have started out as a way to send money from any point in the world to anyone in the world, interest in it exploded when people realized that the protocols and technologies associated with cryptocurrency have so many applications yet to be discovered.
Now the MIT has created the Digital Currency Initiative (DCI), a group with a focus on cryptocurrency and the underlying technology, the blockchain. The MIT has a long history of advancing technologies enabling freedom and privacy for its users according to Neha Narula, the DCI’s Director of Research,
“MIT has a long history of supporting the development of technologies that provide freedom and privacy to users, along with useful features and strong guarantees of stability.”
While we can all agree the internet is a beautiful thing, there are some concerns about the current trajectory it is taking, with few monopolies in control of large chunks of data. Using a censorship-resistant model similar to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies may be the solution to this, as well as many other real world problems. Narula explains in a recent talk, the full potential of the internet has yet to be realized,
“Instead of an interoperable data fabric, we have data silos. Instead of freedom and access, we have gated app stores. We’ve experienced large shifts in power online, with a few organizations now wielding uncomfortable amounts of control.”
Narula was drawn to Bitcoin and realized the impact it could have on the world due to its ability to allow two parties to reach consensus with no trust required, something unheard of in the past. So far, the initiative’s focus has been on integrating itself with the community, to build a baseline and orient themselves accordingly with their surroundings.
At the same time, DCI is continuing to raise awareness of cryptocurrency through workshops, supporting Bitcoin conferences such as Scaling Bitcoin, and sponsoring students to pursue related endeavors. While the past year was for the institution to learn and develop an opinion on cryptocurrencies, the year ahead will see a multi-disciplinary effort to create practical solutions to some of the challenges facing the sector.
While the past year was for the institution to learn and develop an opinion on cryptocurrencies, the year ahead will see a multi-disciplinary effort to create practical solutions to some of the challenges facing the sector.
Some of the projects the DCI are working on include;
- Creating a decentralized monetary policy through techniques like decaying assets and in-protocol inflation,
- Securitizing smart property to enable new models for funding in the developing world, and
- Exploring new ways of mining cryptocurrencies to ensure fairness and more open access to the system.
The DCI’s future work will not only involve research but also on assembling experts and industry leaders together as well. As Narula states in her blog post,
“We will bring together experts in areas like monetary policy to think about a new financial architecture. We will work towards building out this open, interoperable data fabric in a way that provides security, privacy, and integrity to its participants, in order to support a new application paradigm.”