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Ethereum Foundation Funds Columbia, Yale Researchers’ Work on Smart Contract Language

The Ethereum Foundation has awarded a grant to researchers at Columbia and Yale for work on their new smart contract programming language.

The Ethereum Foundation has awarded a grant to researchers at Columbia and Yale universities for the compilation of a new smart contract programming language into the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). The development was announced in a press release shared with Cointelegraph on March 6.

The beneficiary of the grant is a smart contract R&D project called DeepSea, spearheaded by Professor Ronghui Gu, an assistant professor of computer science at Columbia, in collaboration with researchers at Yale. Gu is also the co-founder of blockchain security firm CertiK, which is also one of the participants in the project that raised “several millions” in a funding round led by Binance Labs last October.

The new grant forms part of the foundation’s fifth wave financing — under the aegis of the Ethereum Foundation Grants Program —  devoted to supporting Ethereum 2.0 and Layer 2 scaling efforts.

DeepSea is named after a new smart contracts programming language, originally created at the research lab of Professor Shao, department chair of computer science at Yale and Gu’s fellow co-founder at CertiK.

While the language was initially designed for the implementation of system software, the press release notes that the high risks surrounding smart contract vulnerabilities have provided a fresh impetus to extend DeepSea’s “protective features” to that arena. As Professor Gu has outlined:

“Because [smart] contracts are self-executable and permanent, it is crucial that these contracts perform only as they are precisely intended. The DeepSEA language will allow programmers to add safeguards to ensure that the code conforms exactly to its specifications, using Formal Verification.”

Formal Verification refers to “the process of leveraging mathematical proofs to verify the correctness of code implementation,” and was reportedly initially implemented in the NASA Mars Rover and other hardware systems that the press release characterizes as “mission critical.”

The process is now reportedly being extended for use in software systems, as with CertiK’s auditing of smart contracts and blockchain protocols, and can be used to prevent the possible introduction of bugs while compiling DeepSea into the EVM.
As reported in December, open source blockchain project Qtum has previously awarded Professor Gu’s lab a $400,000 grant to fund the development of DeepSea.

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Report: ‘Free’ Electricity for Students Makes College Campuses Major Crypto Miners

According to recent research by Cisco, university campuses are the second largest cryptocurrency miners across industry verticals.

College campuses are the second largest cryptocurrency miners across industry verticals, according to research by tech conglomerate Cisco published in PCMag on March 5.

Cisco’s security researchers reportedly investigated cryptocurrency mining activity across various industry verticals. The research was carried out with Cisco’s security product Umbrella, which monitors clients’ network connections to screen malicious activity, including possibly dubious crypto mining.

Per the report, university campuses are ranked the second biggest miners of digital currency across industry verticals at 22 percent, second only to the energy and utilities sector, with about 34 percent.

Cisco threat researcher Austin McBride reportedly explained the trend to PCMag, saying that “you leave [the mining rig] running in your dorm room for four years, you walk out of college with a big chunk of change.”

While running their mining rigs in dorm rooms or the school library, students purported avoid electricity costs associated with cryptocurrency mining profitability, according to McBride, who added:

“Mining difficulty for a lot of coins is very high right now — which means it costs more for electricity and internet than the profit you can produce from mining those coins. If you don’t have to pay for those costs, then you are in a really good spot for making money on the university’s dime.”

In Cisco’s ranking, college campuses and utilities are followed by the media and healthcare industries, with six and seven percent respectively. Cryptocurrency mining in the local government, manufacturing, and financial services sectors occupies four, three, and two percent respectively.

A similar tendency was observed in April of last year, when cyber attack monitoring firm Vectra discovered that both intentional cryptocurrency mining and cryptojacking was becoming more prevalent on college campuses than in any other industry.

In January of 2018, Stanford University posted a warning against crypto mining on campus, as school resources “must not be used for personal financial gain.” The warning also cited the school’s chief information security officer:

“Cryptocurrency mining is most lucrative when computing costs are minimized, which unfortunately has led to compromised systems, misused university computing equipment, and personally owned mining devices using campus power.”

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Confirmed: Sony and Fujitsu to Trial Blockchain for Educational Record Integrity

Sony Global Education, Fujitsu and Fujitsu Research Institute are to trial blockchain technology for improving the integrity of course records and grade data.

The education units of Japanese multinational conglomerate Sony and IT equipment services firm Fujitsu are to trial blockchain technology for improving the integrity of course records and grade data. The news was officially reported in a press release from Fujitsu today, Feb. 27.

The pilot comes via a joint venture between Sony Global Education, Inc., Fujitsu Limited, Fujitsu Research Institute and Human Academy Co., Ltd. — the latter being a language school for foreign students in Japan. Prospective foreign students participating in the blockchain trial will complete a course, “Nihongo Dojo,” which prepares them to pass the Nihongo Kentei, a Japanese language proficiency test.

For the joint initiative, Fujitsu will provide its proprietary digital learning platform, dubbed “Fisdom,” for participating students. The IT giant will also provide Sony Global Education with blockchain cloud services, which will be used to certify and manage course records and data pertaining to the students’ performance.

The press release outlines that the Nihongo Dojo course will be taken via the Fidsom online platform ahead of students’ acceptance to their study abroad program:

“The course platform [Fisdom] will collect data including test scores, Japanese conversational ability, and study time, and store them on a blockchain as a certificate. Human Academy […] will be able to accurately grasp the language ability of individual students based on this highly reliable data, by comparing the certificate data on the blockchain with the educational certificates submitted by the prospective students.”

By allowing for verification of the accuracy of students’ claimed language proficiency, the blockchain solution will allow Human Academy “to support them with appropriate education suited to their individual skill levels after coming to Japan,” the press release claims.

Fujitsu Research Institute will contribute to the trial by evaluating the needs of educational institutions and proposing business models for implementation in future. Fujitsu further says that it will:

“promote the utilization of blockchain throughout the educational field, and aims for a future society in which data associated with an individual’s learning can be utilized safely and securely beyond the framework of companies and educational institutions.”

Fujitsu’s official announcement today confirms earlier coverage from major Japanese news outlet The Asahi Shimbun, as Cointelegraph reported on Feb. 26.

A similar pilot initiative to harness blockchain to combat educational certificate forgery has been recently unveiled by the government of Malta.

Additionally, this January, the university of Bahrain announced it would be issuing diplomas on the blockchain, and in the United States, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology issued blockchain-based digital certificates to over 100 graduates as part of a pilot program in fall 2017.

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Bitcoin Could Revolutionize Governance, Says Cypherpunk Jameson Lopp

According to Jameson Lopp, Bitcoin is an experiment that, if successful, could make the transition to an anarcho-capitalist society possible.

Jameson Lopp — a crypto industry figure and self-proclaimed professional cypherpunk — described Bitcoin (BTC) as the first step in a broader transition to an anarcho-capitalist society. Lopp’s comments were made in an interview on the Stephan Livera Podcast, published Dec. 29.

According to Lopp, Bitcoin is an experiment that — if successful — could make the transition to an anarcho-capitalist society possible:

“I believe that Bitcoin is a very interesting experiment that if is successful in the long run could not only revolutionize money, but revolutionize how we think about governance.”

Lopp explains further that a “more self-sovereign, anarcho-capitalist society” could be developed if services currently provided by centralized third parties — such as governments — were provided by “software agents that can start to replace pieces of government functionality,” continuing:

“The first step I think is Bitcoin, and if that’s successful enough, then we can start talking about the next step.”

The recently deceased cypherpunk co-founder Timothy May described in his “Crypto Anarchist Manifesto” how the use of cryptography will allow for the creation of a system in which people will be able to interact directly, free from the influence of governments.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier this month, May had criticized the contemporary crypto industry as recently as October, saying that “attempts to be ‘regulatory-friendly’ will likely kill the main uses for cryptocurrencies, which are NOT just ‘another form of PayPal or Visa.’”

During this week’s interview, Lopp also declared that “one thing that people don’t seem to be investing in as much as they should is education.” He encouraged investors to “do your own research” and also argued that developers “need to bake user education into the actual software and hardware,” such as crypto wallets.

Major Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase recently launched a program that aims to educate users about cryptocurrency while earning crypto, dubbed “Coinbase Earn.” At launch, the program is invite-only and focused on the Ethereum-based token 0x (ZRX).

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2019 Stanford Blockchain Conference Spotlights Blockchain Security and ‘Risk’

Blockchain will come under the microscope for a third year next month as Stanford hosts its now annual conference event.

Security and “systemic risk” will form the focus of the third Stanford Blockchain Conference at Stanford University on Jan. 30 – Feb. 1, organizers have revealed.

Continuing the institution’s ever increasing interest in blockchain technology, the three-day event will see presentations and discussions on a variety of technical issues.

Chaired by Stanford professors, among others, the event will see contributions from multiple cryptocurrency businesses, with input from names such as Blockstream, ConsenSys and Polychain Capital.

Talks will come from representatives of industry businesses including Stellar-focused startup Interstellar and smart contracts platform Chainspace.

The conference, which first ran in 2017, “will explore the use of formal methods, empirical analysis, and risk modeling to better understand security and systemic risk in blockchain protocols.”

Organizers wrote as part of the introduction to this year’s event that “multidisciplinary collaboration” is a main theme:

“We aim to foster multidisciplinary collaboration among practitioners and researchers in blockchain protocols, distributed systems, cryptography, computer security, and risk management.”

Stanford has sought to offer students more direct study of blockchain in recent times, in June this year opening a dedicated blockchain research center.

In October, meanwhile, the establishment was rumored to be one of several in the United States investing in crypto funds.

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Binance Tackles Cryptocurrency ‘Misinformation’ With Multilingual Educational Article Bank

Binance joins the various education initiatives seeking to provide reliable material on the industry.

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has launched a collection of educational content comprising almost 500 articles in order to fight “incorrect” and “misleading” information, a press release confirmed Dec. 12.

Binance, which regularly tops the list of the world’s largest exchanges by volume traded, will initially support 15 languages via the project.

The launch and development is a product of Binance Academy, the exchange’s dedicated education arm which itself began operating in August.

“Misinformation spreads extremely fast. People are frequently quoting articles that are either incorrect or are misleading,” Ted Lin, chief growth officer at Binance commented in the release. Lin noted:

“With Binance Academy, our goal is to provide an entirely neutral platform with quality, unbiased, educational information.”

While it remains unknown what specific information will be covered, topics will include blockchain, security and economics, as well as “useful tutorials and guides,” Lin added.

The decision to launch an informational resource comes as even the topic of Bitcoin’s own identity continues to come under the spotlight.

Following the turmoil of the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) hard fork last month, the altcoin’s proponents, notably news and information resource Bitcoin.com, continue to assert that Bitcoin Cash is the “real” Bitcoin, an angle which has earned the publication criticism in the past.

Developing such resources has also become an occupation of various other entities in the cryptocurrency industry and beyond, October seeing a government-endorsed scheme by Gibraltar to develop blockchain education courses.

Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin’s ConsenSys — a blockchain startup and incubator — in partnership with online education platform Coursera, along with Oxford University professors, have also put forward separate blockchain educational plans of their own.

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U.S. Air Force Grad School Issues ‘Blockchain for Supply Chain’ Primer

The U.S. Air Force graduate school has published a live blockchain application and a set of tutorials to educate defense professionals in the use of blockchain for supply chains.

The graduate school for the U.S. Air Force has developed a educational tool on blockchain for supply chain management, U.S. business journal Modern Materials Handling (MMH) reported Dec. 3.

The move comes in the form of a live application, together with a set of tutorial videos to educate defense professionals, released by the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT).

The report proposes that “blockchain will revolutionize […] the digital infrastructure for future supply chains,” which it suggests, in particular, can translate into “better visibility” for the military’s “extremely complex logistics network.”

AFIT states that blockchain’s “potential opportunities” can be “huge” – including, but not limited to, giving supply chain participants greater confidence in the digital records of their products, and efficiently preventing the “unscrupulous” re-use of substandard materials by immutably tracking their origin, production, and due disposal.

To design its educational application, the Institute reportedly worked alongside SecureMarking, a private supply chain security firm, as well as the University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business, to create a multi-tiered supply chain scenario.

In the scenario, an Air Force program manager issues digital tokens to upstream suppliers, which are transferred between each participant company along the blockchain, in parallel to the physical movement of products along the supply chain.

AFIT suggests the educational application is intended to encapsulate the key decisions any entity will face when designing a blockchain system, such as whether it should be permissionless or private, how to design specific access tiers, and whether there is a need for an “incentive structure.”

AFIT is not the first U.S. military entity to recognize the need for an educational blockchain initiative; last month, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced it would be hosting a two-day blockchain workshop in February, specifically devoted to distributed consensus protocols.

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ConsenSys Partners With Online Education Platform to Launch Blockchain Course

ConsenSys and online educational platform Coursera have partnered to launch a blockchain-related training course.

Blockchain startup ConsenSys has partnered with online education platform Coursera to offer a blockchain technology course, according to an announcement published September 5.

The two companies are launching a course entitled “Blockchain: Foundations And Use Cases.” The course is designed to provide students an introduction to the technology and develop the skills needed to understand how blockchain is changing certain industries, as well as the ways blockchain can solve specific problems.

According to Coursera, the course is designed for students of varying skill levels, including individuals who lack a technical education.

Earlier today, the Linux Foundation opened enrollment for its new advanced training course for Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology. The new course will reportedly enable students to tackle the fundamentals of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLTs), alongside “the core architecture and components” that underlie decentralized Hyperledger Fabric applications.

Educational institutions around the world have been actively embracing blockchain technology, both in practical application and in their curricula. A recent study conducted by crypto exchange Coinbase showed that 42 percent of the world’s top 50 universities have at least one class on cryptocurrencies or blockchain.

In August, Malta, South Korea, and Turkey all announced blockchain and DLT-related educational programs dedicated to fostering young talent and increasing the availability of skilled professionals in the fast-growing industry. The Tezos Foundation also announced it will be issuing financial grants to research institutions for blockchain tech and smart contracts development at several universities located in the U.S., Portugal, and France.