Columbia and IBM Establish New Center for Blockchain Technology

Columbia University and IBM recently announced the creation of a new center devoted to research, education, and entrepreneurship in blockchain technology — a decentralized and highly secure method of storing digital information.

The Columbia-IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency will create cross-disciplinary teams from academia, business, and government “to explore key issues related to the policy, trust, sharing, and consumption of digital data when using blockchain and other privacy-preserving technologies,” according to a joint statement from the institutions. The center, supported by a steering committee of Columbia faculty and IBM scientists and business leaders, will draw on the University’s academic strengths in data science, engineering, business, and law, as well as IBM’s expertise in technology research and development.

Blockchain technology has gained wide attention in recent years as the digital backbone of the virtual currency Bitcoin, but companies in many industries have shown interest in adopting it as a way to exchange value electronically. The technology enables large numbers of computers on secure networks to communally store data, such that any changes made to the data are documented on all the computers, thus reducing the risk that changes introduced by hackers might go undetected.