Gavin Andresen, Wladimir van der Laan, and Cory Fields have taken their development efforts back to school, in a sense. Andresen, who lives about two hours from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Amherst, Mass., wrote on his blog yesterday:
I’m pleased to announce that I’ve joined the MIT Media Lab’s newly launched Digital Currency Initiative to continue my work on the Bitcoin project. So, does this mean that MIT has taken over from the Foundation as the center for “core development”? No. The Bitcoin Foundation was never the center of development; the Bitcoin Core open-source software project has been the center, and like most open-source software projects, the developers who work on Bitcoin Core are supported in many different ways.
The Digital Currency Initiative’s stated goal is:
[…] to bring together global experts in areas ranging from cryptography, to economics, to privacy, to distributed systems, to take on this important new area of research. The effort will reach across the MIT campus, and we look forward to including collaborations with leading experts around the world.
Certainly taking on the leading members of Bitcoin development is a brilliant move in this direction. MIT is one of the premier technology schools in the world and its Lincoln Lab has over the years earned patents in a wide range of technological innovations. It is home to one of the godfathers of the open source software movement, Richard Stallman. It also has a history of accepting government funds for projects, which could raise the concern that Bitcoin development will now have some governmental influence. It’s enough for most Bitcoiners that government regulation has influenced the way companies will conduct themselves, but government influence over the development of the core Bitcoin software could be a warning sign to some.
Certainly Not Uncommon in Open Source
However, as Andresen notes, all open source projects fund themselves in various ways. Moving under the wing of MIT will ensure that development can continue, and it has the added benefit of somewhat removing undue influence from private Bitcoin firms. It also ensures that the recently-orphaned developers will be able to continue develop without worrying where their next mortgage payment is going to come from.
What do you think? Should the Bitcoin community primarily be funding Bitcoin development, or is it better that a stalwart technology school has brought these developers on? Share above and comment below!