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London School of Economics launches cryptocurrency course

London School of Economics launches cryptocurrency course

The cryptocurrency boom and its underlying blockchain technology is generating such levels of global interest that even authoritative institutions like the London School of Economics – a world leader – are sitting up and taking notice. The bitcoin scene has been like the Wild West for years, but as understanding matures, educational structures are emerging to better prepare those who want to enter the fray.

Still dismissed as a gold-rush craze by some, notoriously impenetrable and highly volatile, cryptocurrency is definitely an at-your-own-risk way of making money. The computing power needed to mine bitcoin is so large that mining operations often locate their computers close to hydroelectric plants and other sources of cheaper energy. This processor power-guzzling raises environmental concerns – mine a bitcoin and kill a polar bear, is the message from eco campaigners. Where will it all end? Who will be the eventual winners and losers?

Those intending to win could do a lot worse than consider the LSE’s six-week program titled Cryptocurrency Investment and Disruption, recently launched and led by Dr Carsten Sørensen, Associate Professor of Information Systems and Innovation. It is relatively accessible at a price tag of GBP £1,800 and there are no prerequisites for the course.

The LSE's offering explores how cryptocurrency will shape future markets and industries, and gives enough of the technical side of blockchain to understand the implications for business and the economy. These skills include how to interact with cryptocurrency exchanges, how to use wallets and how to analyse ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings), as well as the technology of the blockchain itself.

LSE is not the first major higher education institution in the West to offer such a course. Others include Cambridge, Stanford, Wharton and Georgetown. Naturally enough the Russians, too, have picked up the ball pretty quickly, with three Russian universities offering cryptocurrency and blockchain courses (one bachelor’s and two master’s).

Does this represent an educational arms race? Cryptocurrency is a powerful wealth-generating system that is getting harder to enter successfully, and blockchain has the potential to enter many more areas of life than just cryptocurrency. Will the best-educated win, or is there enough for everybody with sufficient smarts?

It still all feels like a global casino, but in-depth knowledge of the underlying principles and probabilities can be the edge that helps some to beat the house.