Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, believes there is a need for a “non-commercial, neutral place for academics to talk about bitcoin”. He thinks the best place would be in his lab.


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology might become a place where technical standards for the cryptocurrency will be set. The idea, coming from Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, was first suggested at the Bitcoin Expo at MIT last March and was characterized by Jerry Brito of CoinCenter as an “academic takeover of core development and governance”.

However, as Joi told Xconomy, he now sees this proposal as even more relevant in the midst of the scandal provoked by the open letter published by Olivier Janssens. As CoinFox wrote earlier, Janssens, a newly elected member of Bitcoin Foundation, claimed that the Foundation is “effectively bankrupt”.The Foundation, while insisting that Janssens exaggerated its problems, has admitted it is in a difficult position.

Joi Ito believes bitcoin to be “a little bit fragile” at this moment and in need of more stability. And this stability could be provided by MIT if it becomes a “neutral home” for the development of bitcoin standards and protocols and for academic discussion. He plans to bring in Ron Rivest, one of the founders of RSA Security, and Simon Johnson, a well-known economist. “I think within a couple of weeks we’ll be announcing something which will be a little bit more substantive”, he told journalists.

Joichi (Joi) Ito is a Japanese-American venture capitalist who was an early stage investor in such startups as Twitter and Flickr. Since September 2011, he is the director of the MIT Media Lab. From his point of view,

“The blockchain will be to banking, law, and accountancy as the internet was to media, commerce, and advertising. It will lower costs, disintermediate many layers of business and reduce friction”.

He thinks that just like the internet, bitcoin needs more open discussion and less regulation because “what helped make the internet successful was the lack of regulation and the generally inclusive and permissionless nature of innovation”.