You learn something new every day: MIT’s best Bitcoin innovators crowned

(Jim Urquhart/Reuters)
(Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

The official start of the MIT Bitcoin Project, where each student will receive $100 in the crypto-currency, is fast approaching. The school’s freshman have arrived in Cambridge, classes begin tomorrow, and the various “rush” events at the school are set to take place. As soon as the busy start to year concludes, the project is scheduled to begin.

As part of the Bitcoin Project, the organizers of the initiative held a startup competition called BitComp this summer to promote innovative ways to leverage Bitcoin, on campus and beyond.

Today, the winners of BitComp, who shared a total of $20,000 in various prizes, were announced.

Taking home the BitComp grand prize of $5,000 was Ethos, a working prototype of a decentralized network for storing and sharing personal data, something that would be vital to the security of any crypto currency. Founded by MIT Media Lab grad students Amir Lazarovich and Guy Zyskind, as well as Bitcoin entrepreneur Oz Nathan, Ethos uses technology “related to Bitcoin” to change how personal data is shared and stored online.

One of the basic components of Ethos is the belief that users should control and own their personal data; as they call it, “decentralizing a user-owned backend,” and creating applications to help users experiment with “privacy-preserving services.”

“The real value behind Bitcoin is its being a decentralized and trustless complex system,” said Ethos’s Guy Zyskind in a statement. “In many ways, Bitcoin as an idea is an optimization to democracy using technology. As such, the future of Bitcoin definitely holds far more interesting applications than the currency itself.”

In addition to Ethos, five other teams—Rex Mercury, CoinJoin, BitStation, Fireflies, and PotLucky—won $1,500 in BitComp prizes.

Dennis Keohane was a Senior Staff Writer for BetaBoston.
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