Keynote Author Archives - Digital Scotland
Thriving After Brexit – Scotland Should Reboot on the Blockchain
Category: Keynote Author Author: Digital Scotland Date: 2 weeks ago Comments: 0
Guest article from Don and Alex Tapscott

While the UK and the world grapple with the implications of Brexit, a technological revolution is quietly unfolding that offers a glimmer of hope to Scotland, regarding if it votes to stay in the UK or not.

We’re not talking about the social web, cloud computing, or artificial intelligence. We’re talking about the blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin. This technology represents nothing less than the second era of the Internet and it holds far-reaching opportunities for Europe. If wielded correctly, it could provide the foundation for a more prosperous Europe. It is also the Scotland’s best hope at fulfilling the “Leavers” lofty promises of a more global and dynamic Britain.

The blockchain is a global distributed ledger or a vast database running on millions of devices, a third of them in Europe, where anyone can move, store, and manage anything of value—money, deeds, patents, clinical trials, academic degrees, and even votes—with unprecedented security, privacy, and inclusion. Trust derives not from powerful intermediaries like banks or governments, but from clever code and mass collaboration. For 40 years, Scotland has had the Internet of information. Now, it has the Internet of value within reach to transform the socioeconomic power grid for the better.

Specifically, there are three big opportunities for the Scotland. The first is to rewire the European economy for innovation. The blockchain will not simply disrupt every industry – it will dramatically lower the barriers to business creation. Anyone can build value in the global economy. The second is to reconfigure government for greater transparency and accountability. The European Union should do far more at less cost, and hand more autonomy to its members. The third is to design the preconditions for everyone to succeed. Rather than re-distributing wealth, we could pre-distribute wealth, democratizing the means by which citizens generate wealth in the first place.

Let’s fix the firm by replacing centralized models with open networked enterprises that leverage peer-to-peer payment mechanisms and reputation systems, global blockchain IPOs and digital smart contracts. The democratization of value creation (through entrepreneurship) and value participation (through distributed ownership) could kick-start growth across Europe. London has already been bold. The Bank of England, the city’s biggest banks, and many entrepreneurs have shown global leadership on blockchain. Now, more than ever, they must innovate to ensure London’s preeminence as a global financial hub. Business leaders on the continent should also take note at the city’s success to date. But leadership is also anyone’s opportunity.

Let’s reinvent government for a new era of legitimacy. First, elected officials must rekindle the public’s trust in political institutions. With blockchain, voters could know with 100% certainty who contributed to a campaign or supported it. Second, everyone has a right to participate in government. With the blockchain, citizens could advocate for sealing government action in a public, unalterable and searchable record, using that data as a platform for greater engagement.

Third, everyone must have equal protection under the law, including refugees fleeing violence and persecution. Finally, a blockchain system could cost-effectively engage all residents and provide equal access to public services and social security. These four principles are already enshrined in the United Nation universal declaration of human rights. Blockchain provides the tools to make these aspirations reality. The survival of Scotland is at stake.

What better time to fix a broken monetary system than in the midst of currency crisis? Already the Bank of Canada, the U.S. Federal Reserve, and the Bank of England have begun experimentation with digital currencies. The benefits are numerous: killing cash would reduce crime and improve regulation, because digital money is more traceable and harder to forge than printed versions. Further, central bankers could manage monetary policy and monitor risk in the financial system. Imagine international commerce with less fraud, friction, and leakage. It’s time to stop the tinkering and start the transformation.

It’s time for Digital Sterling and Euro-COIN.

All Europeans ought to have an equal shot at prosperity. But how? First, European leaders must understand that prosperity requires universal financial inclusion. In Romania, over a third of the population lacks a bank account. Shockingly, 1.5 million people in Britain are unbanked today. Inaccurate and incomplete land titles similarly erode confidence and impede upward mobility. With blockchain technologies, we can register property rights and provide broad access to basic financial services.

Second, Europe should be a leader in reinventing digital rights management systems to ensure content creators get paid first, fast, and fairly. Imogen Heap’s London-based Mycelia is a good model. Artists post their music containing a smart contract on the blockchain and the software protects their rights and collects royalties, ensuring that everyone is fairly compensated. Finally, Europe can be a pioneer in enabling individuals, rather than corporations, to collect, control, and monetize their own personal data on the blockchain.

None of this will be easy. The European Union urgently needs a new social contract with its member states. The United Kingdom and Scotland must do the same with its citizens. Only then can they chart a new economic path for the digital age. As with the major paradigm shifts that preceded it, the blockchain will create winners and losers. But if we do this right, a more inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Scotland, Europe and world are within reach.

Blockchain Revolution

Don Tapscott and his son Alex are authors of a new book: Blockchain Revolution – How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business and the World

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A More Trusted World: Distributed, Reactive and Holistic
Category: Keynote Author Author: Digital Scotland Date: 4 weeks ago Comments: 0

Guest article by Professor Bill Buchanan OBE, PhD, FBCS

Don’t you just love it when your council is able to track you down when you don’t pay your parking ticket, but that they send you a letter saying “Dear Home Owner” when they are compiling their list for a voting register?

Sometime, soon, we need to admit that many of the methods that we use have no place in the 21st Century, and to be still signing a piece of paper to prove our identity is as archaic as using a horse and cart for our journey to work. Even the concept of an online form is a throw-back to our old ways. Many of the security problems we have, too, such as phishing and data breaches, are caused because we run our data over untrusted infrastructures.

21st Century: World Class Digital Government

Our world moves on, and Industry 4.0 is all about building a new world, and one which has trust embedded into its core. We thus need to have ways of focusing on the people that matter – our citizens – and build a world around them, rather than one which builds system which provides very few rights of our citizens. Often the systems and procedures are built around the methods we used in the 20th Century, and are often still bureaucratic and inefficient, where there are few opportunities to actually take any form of control of their provision. Our public sector, too, often has a hard shell around itself, and which often doesn’t want to expose its inner working, or have procedures for tracing problems – it is risk-averse, and often protects itself.

We have very few interactions with our public servants in a meaningful digital way, and there are few ways for us to sustain anything that could trace our route through issues. There’s a feeling too that we shouldn’t criticise something that is “free”, but it is our tax which pays for public services, and it is there to support our citizens.

A new model

Sometime, soon, we need to implement public services which truly put the citizen at the core, and which move towards a more distributed model of patient care and which is pre-emptive than that reactive:

For health and well-being we need to look at ways to understand the complex pathways that patients take and use digital technologies to improve their care and thus share information which benefits them:

At the core of the building of this new world is trust, both digital trust (rights and identity) and human trust (strong governance and useful services). Only with this can we build an infrastructure which can share information across different parts of the public sector, and not to be seen as something as governments spying on individuals (as Big Brother in 1984):

So with the forthcoming GDPR directive coming into force in May 2018, we now have a key driver to change our approaches, as our existing methods of providing public services often has little in the way of digital engagement for our citizens.

In the UK, to still have a paper-based health record for our children – the Red Book – seems like a lost opportunity to gather data on the health and well-being of our children, and for parents to understand their development. For this to still be in a paper form is a massive missed opportunity for the creation of a personal health record which recorded your child’s well-being, and thus to be proactive with their health.

Some cities, though, such as London, have adopted the e-Red Book for every child born. For it not to be implemented in Scotland – where the creators of the e-Red Book are based and where they employ their developers – is something that I cannot understand.

Building a new world?

Our public sector needs to start to work together in a consistent digital manner, and open themselves up for increased engagement with citizens and thus support the development of new ways of working.

So, how do we build a new world, which replaces bureaucracy and where, as a citizen, you have rights and can have some control your own world? Well, we must get rid of paper forms … and their sibling … electronic forms. Why must we keep entering details of ourselves and reapply for things that should be our rights? In a new world, we create trusted identities, attributes and roles, and we define governance policies which map these to signed attestations.

If we thus trust the signer, then we trust the attestation. For example, Bob Smith (aka Robert Smith, Rab Smith, and Bobby Smith) has one trusted identity but is known by other names. He has Type 2 diabetes and which gives him rights the discounted medicine from Boots. Along with this he is over 60 years old and is eligible to free bus trips on the buses in Edinburgh. Our new world creates a smart contract on a blockchain, and which is known for its requirements and how it is enacted. Bob now has to get a signed attestation from his GP and then present this to the smart contract, and then the next time he goes into Boots, he will get his discount:

And so you say, but Bob has just revealed to the world that he has diabetes! Well, there’s no need to store the attestation on the blockchain, all that is required is a signed hashed version of the attestation, and that the actual attestation and its details can be presented to the smart contract from the entity which governs the implementation of NHS contracts. In there is a complete audit trail for the implementation of the service and an immediate enactment of the contract. The smart contract knows, too, how long Bob’s attestation lasts for and will enact the discount as long as the GP can verify his diabetes. Another smart contract then monitors for claims and prompts Bob to go back to see his GP (or another trusted entity) to renew his attestation.


So for all the government officials that rain against cryptography, they are not truly seeing the future. As long as we enact our 21st Century using the methods of the 20th Century, I will believe that we will fall further behind other nations of the world in creating a new economy, which brings both social and economic benefit but also puts the health and well-being of our citizens at the core of everything.

When I started to promote the ideas around the of technology I was often told that “My Mum couldn’t use that”, but “My Mum” is the best advocate of the iPad I have ever met, so to say that access to technology is a barrier, has gone. We now need to provide an environment for our public services which will allow our next generation to build on, so go ahead and build it …

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Welcome to Digital Scotland
Category: Keynote Author Author: Digital Scotland Date: 1 month ago Comments: 0
Reach for your summit Scotland! is the online community for Digital Scotland, a Scottish Ltd company based in Edinburgh, founded by Neil McEvoy and Peter Ness. This is Peter climbing the peak of the Vinson Massif in Antarctica, and our community goal is to help others ‘reach for their summit’.

World Leading Digital Nation

The headline agenda for our community the Scottish Government’s Digital Economy strategy, which defines an overall goal of Scotland becoming a world leading digital nation by 2020. The headline agenda for our community the Scottish Government’s Digital Economy strategy, which defines an overall goal of Scotland becoming a world leading digital nation by 2020.

Virtual Coworking Center

Community Features

Any one is welcome to join DigitalScot. You can then fill in a membership profile and utilize a variety of collaboration and promotion tools.

  • Post and promote blogs.
  • Project groups and collaborative wiki document editing.

The main idea is that the site and community membership facilitates a “Virtual Coworking Center”.


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