One of the students from Stanford University recently made headlines after stating that one of the lecturers, Dr. Susan Athey, allegedly misused her position to plug the Ripple protocol, as well as XRP cryptocurrency. This is a complex and serious claim, particularly due to the fact that Dr. Athey also sits on Ripple Labs' Board of Directors, and has held that position since 2014.
As mentioned, the claim is not naive and needs to be properly examined. The student who made it is called Conner Brown, and he decided to go public with it about a week ago. When he did, Brown stated that Athey described Bitcoin's network and protocol very inaccurately. Furthermore, he believes that the inaccurate descriptions were used so that the educator can criticize Bitcoin.
After the lecture, which was held over a month ago, Brown wrote an open letter to the University, explaining the incident, and providing his arguments regarding what he sees as false claims against Bitcoin. He mentioned that the lecturer described Bitcoin's consensus protocol inaccurately, and even that she overstated multiple issues, such as the potential for 51% attacks of the centralization of BTC mining. Finally, the Athey also overstated the Bitcoin network's impact on the environment.
However, while this in itself is a misrepresentation of Bitcoin and false claims, this is not where the incident ended, according to Brown. Instead, the lecturer supposedly presented XRP and Ripple protocol as the solution to all of Bitcoin's supposed problems and shortcomings.
Athey responded via Twitter, stating that she was only acting as a guest lecturer, and not as a professor.
Furthermore, she claimed that her role as a Ripple director was never undisclosed and that she explained it at great length during the introduction to her lecture.
However, according to the slides shown during the lecture, it is clear that the promotion of Ripple and XRP was present. She also used an example of a Mexican remittance firm, Caullix, which she claimed uses xRapid, one of Ripple's top products.
Ripple itself tweeted about Xaullix's usage of their product back in October of last year. However, Brown stated that he got in contact with the company, which denied using Ripple technology for making payments. While Brown also mentioned that he recorded the conversation, he has yet to release audio files that would confirm these claims.
So far, the evidence supports Brown's claim that at least a portion of the lecture was dedicated to the promotion of Ripple, xRapid, and XRP cryptocurrency. The lecturer, Dr. Athey, believes that this is a legitimate behavior, considering that she disclaimed her relationship with Ripple Labs in the introduction, which covers her background.
However, when it comes to her choice of forum for the purpose of promoting the company, it can be seen as debatable and is likely opinion-based. According to the presentation used for the lecture, it does not appear that the lecturer bashed Bitcoin particularly hard. But, there is currently no proof that Athey did not include heavy criticism in the verbal part of her presentation.
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