Duquesne Technology Lab explores blockchain and AI

Colleen Hammond | News Editor

As the world continues to change at a lightning pace, one Duquesne student organization is trying to prepare campus and young professionals for the future.

The Duquesne Technology Lab, a student group aimed at researching and studying emerging technologies, has taken up residence on campus. The group, started by computer science and accounting student Daniel Adebimpe, is one of the first of its kind in the country.

“Through the faculty support, I found this student organization and was ecstatic to make history at Duquesne,” Duquesne Technology Lab vice president Hunter Mueller said.

Back in February, Adebimpe founded the Duquesne Blockchain Group, a student organization that seeks to engage and familiarize students from a wide variety of majors with revolutionary blockchain technology.

Blockchain, to put it extremely simply, is a decentralized, virtual ledger system that allows two parties to complete transactions or transfers of data in a safe, secure way.

“Personally, not having a finance or tech background, blockchain is a more secured system that is utilized to gather and store data,” Mueller said. “This platform creates a network as it is generally private information that is utilized by professionals solely within the network.”

While the subject of blockchain and its associated cryptocurrencies are highly complex and not easily understood, Adebimpe and his vice president Hunter Mueller hope their group will bridge the informational divide between ordinary students and those in the financial technology sector.

“It’s just a system that can give two people trust,” Adebimpe said. Although blockchain is currently primarily used in the financial sector to complete cryptocurrency transactions, Adebimpe and Mueller say the technology has many other applications that could change the way a large section of industries operate.

“The technology and secured platforms will be unitized in industries like healthcare, business, music/arts, and many more as people begin to become more aware,” Mueller said.

According to Adebimpe, in the world of healthcare, blockchain technology could help give patients greater access to their medical data and allow for doctors to securely share patient information across a much larger network of practitioners.

Adebimpe also believes blockchain technology could change the way Americans vote in the coming years.

“Eventually, we will be able to vote digitally on these immutable ledgers so there’s full transparency and quick election results,” Adebimpe said.

These changes, Adebimpe noted, will only be accelerated due to the pandemic. This technology could become more mainstream as Americans move to a cashless society to avoid the transmission of COVID-19 through paper money. This technology has also been used to help hospitals communicate with each other and institute contact tracing protocols, according to Adebimpe.

“Our world has gotten so complex,” Adebimpe said. “Government and big institutions can’t fix the problems we face today.”

Adebimpe thinks the decentralized, unregulated aspects of blockchain could help remedy some of the global problems that are “too big” for large, established financial institutions and even major world governments.

Adebimpe hopes this group will prepare students and Duquesne for the ever changing and increasingly problematic future.

Adebimpe was inspired while working an internship with a financial technology company. He soon developed a passion for emerging technologies with a variety of applications and decided to start a student organization to study and discuss them.

“I really see blockchain as a technology that could change the world,” Adebimpe said.

As the group progressed in size and interests over the sum- mer, Adebimpe decided that the group should expand their focus to include other “disruptive” technologies. The group was then renamed and rebranded as the Duquesne Technology Lab. Their focus now includes research and ethical discussions of artificial intelligence, 3D printing, nano-technology and cryptocurrencies in addition to blockchain.

“Having the ability to develop a system at Duquesne that could then be integrated at corporations in the Pittsburgh area down the road is very exciting,” Mueller said. As members of the group, students have the opportunity to research and study cutting edge technologies through the group’s industry partners. The Duquesne Technology Lab has currently paired with multiple blockchain and advanced technology companies based in California such as Block Venture, Definity, and Chaintouch.

Adebimpe said he is hoping his work on blockchain and with the group will help develop a “more inclusive financial landscape.”

“We need to enter the new paradigm of synthesis over analysis,” Adebimpe said.

Adebimpe and Mueller are seeking to increase interest and membership in the club within the next year, as well as further develop their relationships with emerging industry partners.

“I am most excited to research the platforms already out on the market at other businesses and schools and make it our own at Duquesne and more effective to build a greater network,” Mueller said.