back to article PARTY TIME! MIT slips $100 to each student ... in Bitcoin

Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will each be handed $100 of Bitcoin in a bid to create a crypto-currency economy within the university. The scheme was dreamed up by Jeremy Rubin, 19, a second-year undergraduate, and Daniel Elitzer, an MBA student at the university's Sloan School of Management. To finance …


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  1. NoneSuch

    "We want to issue a challenge to some of the brightest technical minds of a generation"

    The Reg Staff are involved?

  2. Tom 7 Silver badge

    someone has to build an architecture to enable buying stuff.

    well that's a couple of million spent on the means not the ends.

  3. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip


    A parasitic JavaScript Bitcoin miner, coming to a device near you soon!

    1. d3rrial

      Re: Tidbit

      So? Imagine you'd just mine for a few minutes when visiting a site, supporting them in the process. I'm sure there'll be TidBit blocker plugins for all browsers, such as there are adblock plugins. Instead of being annoyed by stupid ads you'll just be annoyed by your stupid fans spinning up.

  4. Arachnoid


    YEA!...........Poker night

  5. S 11

    It's a "mindshare" experiment without the experiment. We already know what will happen.

    1. People want free stuff, and will accept the "$100 of Bitcoin" straight away, except for the Calvinists and the very few legal minds who reject the currency and sue to keep their personal data and reputations from being associated with a guerilla fiat suddenly appearing in their wallet.

    2. Someone will 'invent' a kiosk teller machine that dispenses U.S. Dollars and "Bitcoin," thus enabling local brick-n-mortar retail shoppes to trade in a currency they can hold in their hands. In America, a gratuity is often paid in cash throughout a given day and this sort of palm rubbing will create a "buzz" when it's done with Bitcoin. This is the manufacture of Acceptance.

    3. Valuations of larger fixed assets will not be seen to rise in value until Bitcoin rivals the dollar, which would of course mean the dividing and conquering of today's relatively lower Prices.

    Bitcoin is one of a hundred wanna-be dollars that enable unregulated commerce, which is and should be a concern to every Society because of the scalability of the power to motivate the have-nots outside the oversight of the Government.

    It means nothing, until it does. And anything can be reverse-engineered into a weapon by human beings.

    * I chose the Stop icon because I think the prodigious should know when to Stop.

    1. Dani Eder

      > Someone will 'invent' a kiosk teller machine that dispenses U.S. Dollars and "Bitcoin,"

      There are already two such bitcoin ATMs in Boston, one at the underground rail South Station, and the other at Harvard Univeristy. Both are about 2 km (1.5 miles) from the MIT campus.

      1. S 11

        Note the presence of the single quote marks around the word "invent.'

    2. Don Jefe

      What the fuck man? Did you just say Bitcoin was dangerous because poor people might get hold of some? I've got to know, did you build your own time machine, or did you fall into some sort of temporally unstable hole accidentally while trying to stuff more children in your coal pit?

      Of all the reasons I've heard for Bitcoin being a bad idea, preventing a peasant uprising is by far the best I've heard. You should run for office. It'll be tight, you probably won't get the vagina vote, but if you can pull it off we can put those broads back in the kitchen, turn these economies around and always have a sandwich waiting for us menfolk when we get home from a long day of fucking our secretaries and beating the Blackamoors who carry our sedan chairs around (pro tip: throw small coins at them when you've got them in passing gear. It's like an amusement park with no lines).

      If 'have nots' concern you that much I'll tell you the secret to dealing with them so you can sleep at night. Make sure they have food. That's not my opinion, that's millennia of history. Sure, the 'have nots' will whine about societal disparities, but I can guaranfuckingtee the 'haves' whine louder. They can to rent a stage you see. Nothing fancy, what you give students and prisoners will do. They'll stay in their ghettos. It's much cheaper to do that than the alternatives.

      If you really want to rouse the rabble, give them a cheeseburger and tell them they'll get unlimited free cheeseburgers after the 'haves' have been 'dealt with'. See, when 'have nots' become 'have nothing's' except for what you give them you've got a ready made fighting force that will die for those cheeseburgers. They'll starve themselves so their families can split his cheeseburger. It's all fucked up. Check it out sometime.

      When you've got people who are willing to kill and willing to die for cheeseburgers they've got a lot of things on their mind. Just so very many things. But not a god damn one of those things involves extremely involved algorithms, computational optimization and hardware configurations that generate some intangible thing they still can't buy a single fucking cheeseburger with.

      I'll be rather disappointed if you aren't a late 19th century coal owner, but disappointment is just so common. A time traveler would be so much more fun.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Thanks, Don - you said roughly what I was going to say, but in a much more erudite fashion (as usual).

        Society should be worried about "unregulated" economic activity by have-nots ... WTF? Should we not be concerned by unregulated economic activity by "haves"? If so, what is the difference?

        1. Don Jefe

          Right? People who are satisfied with food, shelter and a modicum of security are harmless. The guy who made $1 billion last year and is still stressed by his morning commute to the office is a scary person.

        2. S 11

          Gosh, I have NO IDEA why criminals want to transmit funds without scrutiny. Human trafficking? Weapons dealing?

          You're right though, "pass the chips."

      2. S 11

        What's your SilkRoad profile name?

      3. Jonathan Richards 1

        Re WTF, man?

        I'm tending towards the time-traveller theory to explain S11. It still capitalises the occasional Noun, as was common in English writing before the seventeenth Century.

  6. MrT

    In other news...

    ...MIT announces that, as well as USD, all bars will now be accepting payment for drinks in Ł and Ψ. If students want to save time and spend their Bitcoin directly, they should put pressure on the psuedonimical creator to quickly sort out a funky-looking currency symbol, because 'BTC' or '฿' on the bar tariff boards look silly...

    1. MondoMan

      Re: funky symbols

      Hah! At first, I thought you were an alum making a cryptic joke about the "charming" j/psi particle, but I see you're just another liteweight. :)

    2. Old Handle

      Re: In other news...

      What do you have against ฿? It's good enough for Thailand.

      1. MrT

        Re: In other news...

        Nothing against it - although some BTC exchanges have been quoting Bitcoin values using the symbol for Baht, probably without realising that's why the symbol exists in the first place.

        My comment was meant as a joke - icons still not available on the mobile website - that MIT might dish out one cryptocurrency but then twist things by only accepting others; generosity knows no limits etc. Still, as others have suggested, it's probably part of a case study to see how students respond to the handout.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not spent

    this will sit in their wallet while they all watch and wait to make some cash when they "dump" on the next hype-powered "pump".

    I wonder how many BC the guy thinking this up has already, and what point he's planning to sell at.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. cyrus

      Re: secure31415

      Shooting them in the crotch first negates the effort required to lift the gun and shoot them in the face.

  9. DougS Silver badge

    I don't know about MIT

    But if most universities did this, the students would cash it out the instant they could, and the local bars would have a big weekend!

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: I don't know about MIT

      MIT is no different than any other university. Sure, some very bright sparks get educated there and lots of money goes through there. But it's still a small area packed to capacity with young men and women and millions of gallons of booze. All the same dumb shit happens and everybody laughs the same way as they do at any university.

      I guess the biggest difference I've seen when I speak there a few times a year is I don't recall ever seeing a pregnant student. So that is a bit different. Smart kids use condoms (or something). Who would've thunk? But a keg stand is a keg stand no matter what school you're going to :)

  10. Don Jefe

    The smart money would be to go round the school on Friday and give everybody $20 cash for their Bitcoin. A 45 second transaction later and everybody is happy.

  11. John Tserkezis

    When you give people free money, you can't dictate how they're going to use it.

    "The pair of Bitcoin bods want the young recipients of their generosity to actually do something interesting with the cash - $100 is worth 0.22BTC right now - rather than changing it into dollars and buying Friday night booze."

    Some years back, the Australian government paid out around AU$1000 to pensioners at christmas and the same for anyone who has children, to be spent for the children (paid to their parents). This was "officially" done to stimulate the economy while it was in the shitter. And perhaps as a bribe for votes.

    What actually happened was different from the goverment's intent. Firstly, the pensioners kept the cash - sensibly thinking that this size of bribe meant they were going to get royally screwed later on. The parents spent the $1000 not on their kids, but by buying a big screen TV (I spoke to a number of retailers who said exactly that, directly after the payments whent through). And worst of all for that government, the bribe failed.

    Like the title says, When you give people free money, you can't dictate how they're going to use it.

  12. Vociferous

    Why would MIT want to help bitcoin?

    Because that's what they're doing. They're not helping their students, they're trying to improve the acceptance of bitcoin -- and I can't figure out why that would be a priority for MIT.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Why would MIT want to help bitcoin?

      What? Even in Bitcoin funny money $500k worth isn't enough to shift the economics of the thing. I don't think you realize the scope of the money and monied people and companies available to any of the leading US universities (like MIT). These kids got a guy to invest nearly half a million dollars in a social experiment. People who toss $500k at those sorts of things tend to have a really good handle on finance and economics. They know full well that $500k is less than a founding error.

      Universities have always been great places for social experiments. You've got a captive population with copious amounts of demographic data in a quasi-structured environment rich in tradition and practices. There are very few surprises so it's easy to measure change within that population by introducing new variables. Will Bitcoin be the great social equalizer that empowers the intelligent over the cunning and aggressive? Will someone dominate the entire thing? Who knows. That's why it's an experiment. If you wanted to impact Bitcoin on a global scale the smart way would be to establish an exchange, trouser the loot and head to Chile. Not give $100 ea to a bunch of college kids.

      1. Vociferous

        Re: Why would MIT want to help bitcoin?

        > Even in Bitcoin funny money $500k worth isn't enough to shift the economics of the thing

        Nonono, you misunderstand: I didn't mean that this is 500K spent to get influence the exchange rate of bitcoins, I mean that it's 500K spent to get 5000 new bitcoin users.

        That's what I'm wondering: Why would MIT pay to get 5000 of their students to try bitcoin?

        My guess is that it's a donation by someone invested in bitcoin and disappointed by the slow uptake.

        Also I disagree with the rest of your post. There's nothing experimental about bitcoin, it's a pyramid scheme like so many before, with the added complexity that the tokens you buy can be used to anonymize money, thereby hiding them from the law.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why would MIT want to help bitcoin?


          Bitcoin is not a pyramid scheme. When it (eventually) gets wide scale adoption, the value of a BC across many users will stabilise, exchange rate fluctuations will be minor and local influences averaged out..

          The whole point of BC long term is to be used as a currency, not as an investment opportunity.

          1. Arachnoid

            not as an investment opportunity.

            So its going to be unlike the normal currency exchange rates that fluctuate by the hour due to said investment opportunists.

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