Artist's image of yellow blocks arranged in chain-like configuration, with the words "Blockchain: Promise and Pitfalls"

Portrait of Andrea GoldsmithPrinceton excels when it can address big questions at the intersection of technology and society.

That’s why I have been so excited to launch our new DeCenter — short for the Center for Decentralization of Power Through Blockchain Technology.

In creating the DeCenter, we are exploring a wide range of emerging technologies — blockchain, as well as others aimed at decentralization — and their implications for society. We are asking how these technologies can help people around the world gain greater access to financial systems, take control and ownership of their online identities, collaborate in new ways, and generally interact and transact using this new and powerful tool. How do we avoid harms and ensure equity, fairness, and accessibility? How do we even define “decentralization” and assess its impacts? How do we help regulators build guardrails that protect against bad actors without stifling innovation?

Those are the kinds of questions that emerged at the DeCenter’s inaugural summit last November. We convened leading blockchain entrepreneurs, top federal regulators, human and civil rights experts, as well as faculty in computer science, engineering, public policy, politics, economics, and ethics to identify key questions that define a bold agenda for the DeCenter. In April, we brought together leaders and students to report on progress, refine the questions, and catalyze collaborations within Princeton and beyond.

The key ingredient that positions Princeton to address these questions in all their dimensions is having a world-class engineering school at the heart of a great liberal arts university. Indeed, we bring that multidisciplinary approach to all our major areas of growth, including bioengineering, energy and the environment, robotics, and quantum engineering. Together, we are building technology in the service of humanity.

Andrea Goldsmith
Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering