Prestigious Princeton University has launched an initiative to study the “decentralization of societal power” through blockchain technology in an effort to explore the vast depths of it’s social capabilities.
For the launch, Bloomberg reported that Princeton’s Venture Forward campaign received $20 million in donations from high-profile alumni Peter Bridger from Fortress Investment, Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin, Pantera Capital CEO Daniel Morehead, and Galaxy Digital’s Mike Novogratz.
The initiative is designed to study the ways in which modern technology, especially blockchain, can interfere with and change social norms, just as other technologies such as the printing press and the internet have in the past. A March 11 video from the university states that “we are at a very early stage in understanding the opportunities and challenges” associated with cryptocurrency and blockchain.
“The initiative will convene scholars across disciplines to understand the potential benefits and pitfalls of blockchain and other technologies, and their potential to disrupt centers of societal power.”
Princeton’s Venture Forward campaign is an engagement and fundraising campaign to build community and alumni engagement, seek critical philanthropic support for the University, and share Princeton’s defining principles and their impact on the world.
The university believes that focusing on decentralization will promote growth in three areas of study. An official post from the university states that it will help it understand “the underlying engineering behind blockchain and related technologies,” discover new uses for blockchain in finance, voting, news, and elsewhere, and determine “the implications that such technologies could have for society.”
#PrincetonU is launching an initiative on blockchain and its potential to disrupt and redistribute power in society, supported by Peter Briger, Jr. ’86, @ethereumJoseph ’87, @dan_pantera ’87 and @novogratz ’87 in a combined major gift to #VentureForward: https://t.co/MZyEfSApL2 pic.twitter.com/w85CHzMPh4
— Princeton University (@Princeton) March 10, 2022
Princeton’s School of Engineering and Applied Science will take on the work of the new initiative led by Professor Jaswinder Pal Singh, who has sat on the Blockstack PBC Board of Directors since 2019. Singh has embraced a “highly collaborative research” approach to determine how blockchain can “result in the most benefit and the least harm,” according to a statement from the university.
Singh commented that computer scientists have faced a long uphill battle in figuring out how to achieve consensus “among a distributed set of entities who don’t trust one another.” He added that while Bitcoin (BTC) has largely solved that problem, decentralization may well be a new turning point for society.
“The decentralization of trust may be just as powerful and transformative as the worldwide web. It may transform existing systems and lead to new applications that we cannot even imagine today.”
Related: Cambridge University launches crypto research project with IMF and BIS
This is the second time in as many weeks Princeton has revealed its ongoing involvement in the blockchain industry. On March 2, a partnership with Metaverse and NFT project Radio Caca (RACA) and Princeton’s Blockchain Society was reported by Cointelegraph.