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The Latest Course Catalog Trend? Blockchain 101

Wired: “On a clear, warm night earlier this year, several dozen University of California, Berkeley students folded themselves into gray chairs for a three-hour class on how to think like blockchain entrepreneurs. The evening’s challenge, presented by Berkeley City Councilmember Ben Bartlett, was to brainstorm how blockchain technology might be used to alleviate the city’s growing homeless problem. “We have at least 1,400 homeless people in our city, and that includes many right here at UC Berkeley,” Bartlett told the class. “So how can we use blockchain to fund a new prosperity? That’s a challenge I’d like you to take on.” The course, taught by visiting professor and former venture capitalist Po Chi Wu, is among a growing number of classes and research initiatives on blockchain technology emerging at universities. Blockchain—a method for creating and maintaining a global ledger of transactions that doesn’t require a third-party middleman such as a bank, government or corporation—is best known for its role in powering the virtual currency bitcoin. Applications for the technology are springing up in sectors including retail, humanitarian aid, real estate and finance. Although some analysts believe blockchain won’t gain widespread adoption for another five or 10 years, companies like IBM, Facebook and Google are investing heavily in the technology—and universities are taking note…”

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