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Ethereum founder gives $5m crypto to UNSW

·2-min read

The main founder of Ethereum cryptocurrency has made a major donation to UNSW Sydney to help build a tool aimed at warning of future pandemics.

And in an only-in-crypto twist, the initiative will be named after a dog breed associated with memecoins.

Vitalik Buterin gifted US$4 million in US Dollar Coin to UNSW to establish the Shiba Inu OSINT Initiative.

OSINT means open-source intelligence while Shiba Inu appears to be a nod to Shiba Inu coin, a dog-themed cryptocurrency with which Buterin has a somewhat bizarre history.

The programmer was sent half the supply of Shiba tokens when the crypto launched in 2020, and when memecoins took off last year his holdings were suddenly worth billions of dollars.

He ended up selling 660 billion Shib tokens last May and donating the proceeds to charity, while destroying the remainder of his stock.

Buterin's donation has been converted to A$5.3 million to support the development of an open-source intelligence tool developed by UNSW Kirby Institute's Professor Raina MacIntyre.

The EPIWATCH tool scans social media and news reports to detect changes to what is considered "normal" reports about health concerns, with a goal of finding outbreaks before they are normally reported.

"Imagine if someone had detected COVID-19 before it spread around the world - that is our vision," said Prof. MacIntyre.

"Using AI and real-time open-source data, EPIWATCH does not depend on people making reports. It is a great equaliser and can overcome weak health systems and censorship."

In a statement, Buterin said that open-source tools were an excellent way to detect disease outbreaks and stop them before they become large.

His donation will allow the team at UNSW's Kirby Institute to make EPIWATCH accessible to low-and middle income countries.

The gift from the Balvi Filantropic Fund is UNSW's first crypto gift and is believed to be the largest crypto gift accepted by an Australian higher education institution

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