Carnegie Mellon University has received a cryptocurrency pledge valued at over $4 million. Alum Nikolai Mushegian made the commitment on New Year’s Day to establish a research program for web 3.0 and decentralized applications.
Mushegian, a former MakerDAO contributor, is earmarking a total of 10,000 MKR to the university with an initial donation of 3,200 MKR, worth $1.3 million, and an informal commitment of an additional 6,800 over the next one to three years.
Mushegian states in a blog post,
“I have two motives for this donation. The first is simply that it’s good karma. The second is that I am very concerned about the increasing rent-seeking behavior from some of the big players in this space, and also from existing banks and tech giants.”
The expanding influence of blockchain and cryptocurrency has sparked major initiatives from Facebook, Fidelity and Bakkt, among many others, that see the technology underpinning the future of payments, finance and various industries. Mushegian says universities will need resources to fight off rent-seekers or risk “becoming monopolized by people who are better at filing patents than writing working code.”
Mushegian argues that the blockchain-based systems being developed today are bound to replace the financial infrastructure of our economy, and that they belong in the public domain.
“Get ready for a years-long multimillion-dollar battle over whether ‘send crypto over email’ is patentable. This example is laugh-out-loud hilarious, but I am afraid in the near future we will find [intellectual property] judgments that are not so funny.”
“Any students or researchers who are interested should just DM me [on Twitter] for now. I’m particularly interested in people looking to do a thesis in algorithms or game theory.”
U.S. News & World Report ranks Carnegie Mellon as the top computer science graduate program in the US, tying for first place with MIT, Stanford and Berkeley.
CMU researchers say they’ve been tapping into many different applications of blockchain and cryptography to advance economic and business functions. In March of 2019, the university’s PNC Center for Financial Services Innovation developed a blockchain course to build apps on a localized cryptocurrency used by students on campus.
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