Rigorous academic debate has played an important role in deepening society’s understanding and support for scientific and technological achievements. Universities have often been early adopters and have contributed extensively to the further development of many notable innovations such as the internet. Yet while blockchain programs have become an increasingly popular addition to many recognized universities, few are providing fully developed degree programs.
The University of Nicosia in Cyprus as well as the University of Malta are some of the few which offer full time postgraduate programs. Most others are in the form of blockchain certificate programs like those being taught by some of the more recognized universities like MIT, Oxford, and Cornell. There are now more programs that extend beyond fundamentals and dive into the legalities concerning blockchain like the University of New Hampshire’s recent addition to their program list. Despite the growing interest among these institutions there remains many short comings when it comes to academia’s approach to Bitcoin and blockchain.
Narrative battle vs Bitcoin is financially biased
One of the more eye-opening examples of this is the sense of commonality in the narrative between many of these blockchain programs. This raises an important question about how blockchain academia is influenced. The answer of course is with millions of dollars being pumped into the education sector by the likes of Ethereum, Ripple, IBM and more. It’s hard not to consider what affect this has on how blockchain and Bitcoin are approached academically. Examples of this are the University of Tokyo launching its blockchain program with $800,000 and material support from the Ethereum Foundation and its supporters. A Ripple co-founder donated $24million in XRP to San Francisco University. The Ethereum Foundation, Vechain, Omisego are all sponsors of endowed faculty chairs at Stanford University. What this means is that the professors occupying those positions are provided funding by those above organizations to partake in research and other activities. There are many examples of this kind of influence within blockchain academia and perhaps most of it requires a much more serious inquiry. At the very least we can surmise that the narrative battle against Bitcoin is financially biased.
Although there is more to it than just money. For quite a while now those seeking to minimize Bitcoin’s potential vis-à-vis blockchain have had easy success at the hands of others working to dismantle Bitcoin under the guise of BTC development. It’s poor prospects beyond large financial settlements came from the reluctance to scale and the removal and limiting of many of bitcoin’s capabilities and capacities. That state of development on BTC was largely untenable as a concept to academics and therefore allowed for an easy dismissal of the Bitcoin project. Even one of its most prominent developers Mike Hern wrote upon his leaving in a now famous article titled, “The Resolution of the Bitcoin Experiment”:
“Despite knowing that Bitcoin could fail all along, the now inescapable conclusion that it has failed still saddens me greatly. The fundamentals are broken and whatever happens to the price in the short term, the long term trend should probably be downwards.” – Mike Hearn, Former Bitcoin Core Developer
The social movement that grew around the dismantling of BTC provides even more ammunition to Bitcoin’s academic critics. The concept of digital gold, an idea that the “decentralized” nature of Bitcoin allows for a virtual store of value, is a notion that cannot be taken seriously without fundamental utility and scalability. This is very apparent to most academics and it reinforces the incorrect notion that Bitcoin is an outdated and untenable network, and when provided funding to look at something else, it becomes easy for academics to argue that blockchain is the way forward. Moreover, one can easily agree that BTC is currently untenable, but wrong in regards to labeling BTC as Bitcoin; or at the very least not considering the project in its entirety, which involves including Bitcoin SV in their analysis.
Of course, when Bitcoin SV is considered in such analysis the entire narrative flips. No longer do the limitations that make Bitcoin untenable apply, as those are inherent to BTC and its significantly altered protocol. In order to get to this point, we must first examine what is Bitcoin and why the original design is the only design that works. Thankfully the Satoshi whitepaper provides primary reference material that we can objectively examine to determine what constitutes Bitcoin. When objectively compared with the white paper we can begin to see which protocol accurately reflects the design put forth by Satoshi in 2008. This is a conversation that is vital to be had for progress to be made in the public’s understanding of what Bitcoin is as a technology, a network, and a system.
It is with this spirit that we should seek to ignite a vigorous academic debate on the very nature of what Bitcoin is. BlocksEDU, a curriculum development and educational services provider that focuses on key technological “building blocks,” is working to spearhead this conversation within universities by building a series of workshops introducing the technological capabilities and economic incentives of Bitcoin SV that will begin in 2020 at a Canadian University that for now will remain unnamed. BlocksEDU are also working to update a current Blockchain Certificate Program being taught at one of Canadian’s largest colleges to include Bitcoin SV, not just as a part of the curriculum, but also in direct comparison to BTC vis-à-vis the Bitcoin whitepaper. This certificate program is likely to also be taught at the currently unnamed university as well as potentially many other universities globally.
What blocksEDU aims to achieve is a reexamining of Bitcoin, or as Wayne Van Damme the CEO of BlocksEDU likes to call it, “Going back to the future.” By having a more insightful curriculum through the encouragement of a deeper exploration around the potential of Bitcoin we can begin to form a better understand of what this technology is and what it is capable of. Even more than that we can ignite a spark in academia by providing students with the knowledge they can use to help build valuable new services for a truly global digital economy enabled by the power of an unlimited Bitcoin.
New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.