Bitcoin survived a wild youth marked by drug trafficking, money laundering, theft, bankruptcy, and political spats. Now, the digital currency is getting cleaned up and heading to grad school.
A fledgling project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab is offering researchers and software developers a quiet home to work on bitcoin’s core technology, a computer science breakthrough that lets people trade money securely without paying a middleman.
Media Lab leaders hope that, by acting as a safe home for research and development, MIT can help the sprawling bitcoin software project shed its chaotic past and emerge as a more versatile technology platform.
If the idea works, bitcoin’s underlying technology — known as the blockchain — has a chance to become a new digital system that makes transferring money or signing a contract as cheap and simple as sending an e-mail.
For anyone who’s spent an afternoon signing piles of loan documents or paid through the nose to send money overseas, that’s an appealing idea.
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