In a nod towards the direction cryptocurrencies are heading, the youth of the globe are surging towards university courses that offer teaching in cryptography, as well as cryptocurrency.
Dan Boneh, co-director of the Stanford Computer Security Lab and a professor of cryptography has noted that security and cryptography represent the second-most popular subject in the university’s computer science department, behind only machine learning.
He added: “A lot of people are attracted to the huge valuations in these currencies. Cryptocurrencies are a wonderful way to teach cryptography. There are a whole bunch of new applications for cryptography that didn’t exist before.”
The rise in popularity has been comparable to the growth of the digital currency which is making all the noise, Bitcoin. It has hit the mainstream in a big way, and now there is a second wave of those who are looking to be more than just investors in the potentially revolutionary technology.
In 2015, Boneh began teaching a class on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and was quickly attracting over 100 students. Boneh said that more than one mln people have signed up for an online cryptography class he teaches through the website Coursera.
Spreading across the campuses
In Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon’s Vipul Goyal is using Boneh’s interactive online textbook for a class called Special Topics in Cryptography that the school is offering for the first time this year.
About 20 students, mostly PhD candidates, are taking the class which focuses on Blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
The trend is not just limited to these two universities: the University of California at Berkeley launched a class last year called the Cryptocurrency Decal, and in 2015 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab established the Digital Currency Initiative.
Bitcoin, its underlying technology Blockchain, and the theory behind it, Cryptography, is big business as there has already been evidence of growth in the job market for the associated disciplines.
It is understandable thus that University students would want to align themselves with a burgeoning technology that is desperate for growth and can only benefit from additional human capital.