https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Nq4TNzjvYY

Eva Pascoe: It’s fan­tas­tic to be here. I’m real­ly priv­i­leged to share this talk with you because it feels quite spe­cial, you know. I think every­body under­stands that some­thing is sort of hap­pen­ing, we just need to move it along a lit­tle bit faster.

But I just want­ed to check one thing: how many of you check your phone as the last thing before you go to bed? Right. Most.

How many of you walk on the street with your phone in your hand, bump­ing into peo­ple? Right.

How many of you met a girl­friend or boyfriend on the Internet? Oh, there is future. There’s always a chance.

Right, could you take your phone and swap it with your neigh­bor and let them have a good roam around it? [laugh­ter] Come on, come on.

See how dif­fi­cult it is. These are such inti­mate lit­tle objects that we’re not pre­pared to share them with just about any­body. But we share them with about a mil­lion peo­ple in UK who have high-vetted sur­veil­lance clear­ance to have a good look at every­thing that’s on it.

Audience mem­ber: But they’re not allowed to mon­i­tor phones.

Pascoe: Well, they’re look­ing at what you do on your smart­phone.

Audience mem­ber: [inaudi­ble]

Pascoe: So what’s on the data, the data that you look last thing before you go to bed? The email your check first thing in the morn­ing? You’re shar­ing that activ­i­ty with quite a lot of peo­ple. So today we just want to take a quick look to see how we can unfuck what hap­pened over the last few years.

Facade of the Cyberia cafe, 1994

So when we start­ed in 1994, Internet was an incred­i­bly inno­cent lit­tle crea­ture. We were ter­ri­bly keen on shar­ing, con­nect­ing, and bring­ing the good­ness to the world. Mainly because I was teach­ing nurs­es com­put­ing, and one thing I real­ized, that the best way to teach that is to bring peo­ple togeth­er to share it in the same space. So not giv­ing them exer­cise to go home but bring­ing togeth­er. And I some­how dis­cov­ered that by bring­ing them togeth­er and putting a bunch of com­put­ers around, it real­ly kind of cre­at­ed spir­it of the group and peo­ple were able to crack even the worst sta­tis­tics in math lab.

So we put it out on the high street because we cre­at­ed a sit­u­a­tion where every­body could learn con­nect­ed to the Internet, and these were the first things we had. So Eudora, Mosaic, FTP, and a very very cranky, slow con­nec­tion from Easynet. And you know what? Now look at it, what do we do today? We still do it, we just iter­ate it a lit­tle bit more on the top­ics. But they’re still the same func­tion­al­i­ty, so essen­tial­ly noth­ing has changed, it just got a frac­tion eas­i­er and a frac­tion faster. Not quite fast enough, as some peo­ple in Hebden Bridge I think noticed. But the fiber is com­ing, appar­ent­ly.

But what has changed since then, it’s a lot of oth­er things hap­pened. I’ve done a lot of cryp­to work, and I was behind a team that intro­duced SSL in 1996 to the shops. Mainly because it was pos­si­ble to buy stuff with cred­it cards. Well, before it was­n’t. Or you could but you’d be real­ly crazy to do it. So I moved—after Cyberia, devel­op­ing the whole cyber­café con­cept, I moved to Topshop. Worked with Philip Green and some­how per­suad­ed them that SSL was strong enough to let the crowds on it. Little did I know that you know, SSL was a big war that was just about to hap­pen. But we did it.

And so things devel­oped fair­ly slow­ly and in a trust­ed way, ie. we thought that we were devel­op­ing things, not know­ing what was going on behind the scenes. And the first sort of big war that I was involved with was the cook­ie wars. Because as you remem­ber, the cook­ies were nec­es­sary for com­merce. They hold the ses­sions. So they allow you to actu­al­ly cre­ate a trans­ac­tion.

But what they also allowed is the adver­tis­ing crowd showed up. Before there were not quite enough peo­ple to do adver­tis­ing online. But about 96, 97 there were enough, and all the adver­tis­ing indus­try woke up say­ing, Aha! This is peo­ple who we can sell stuff to.” And they decid­ed to cre­ate bad cook­ies.” So the cook­ies that we’re still pestered by today, who remem­ber your data, who know exact­ly what you do, who will keep track of you in a way that you prob­a­bly would­n’t want to.

We lost that war. That was the first time that the com­mer­cial world won against the engi­neers, because to them the Internet was run by engi­neers and what­ev­er they said, went. But that was chal­lenged, and actu­al­ly for the ones who remem­ber it was Mark Andreessen who was in the bad camp. So when he sud­den­ly emerged from using open source and being the good guy and shift­ing toward sup­port­ing the adver­tis­ing indus­try we thought okay, knives out, gloves off, this is war.

And this was war that we kind of fought and lost till about 2004, when Google decid­ed to cre­ate a busi­ness mod­el on read­ing your email. And today we accept it, but then it was so incred­i­bly shock­ing. The idea of a busi­ness open­ing your email, open­ing the most inti­mate of your com­mu­ni­ca­tions and some­how mak­ing mon­ey out of it, it was just unthink­able. They knew it was unthink­able. So Eric Schmidt kept say­ing, Oh well, you know, we get up to creepy but we don’t quite cross the line.” And I thought well…creepy depends on whose def­i­n­i­tion of creepy. Because for us it was pret­ty bad.

But again, the com­mer­cial world won, car­ried on. And we just kept feed­ing it more and more. Because if you look at the aver­age Facebook pho­to… I love the Facebook pho­tos with the feet. People always think, Well, I won’t take a self­ie because that’s a bit too vain. But I’ll put my feet there.” And they feel that that some­how gets them out of being tracked by data. And when you look at image recog­ni­tion, it’s very easy to define if the feet are of a male or female, and if it’s young or old. So you can gen­er­ate quite a lot of infor­ma­tion from a lit­tle two feet.

You can also gen­er­ate a lot more infor­ma­tion. Where have you been? How much did you spend? How much mon­ey do you make? You imme­di­ate­ly become a real­ly nice stream of data that’s just flow­ing out. You did one lit­tle pho­to. Meanwhile, everybody—it will be like hun­dreds of cookies…advertising peo­ple just check­ing, reg­is­ter­ing, and cre­at­ing your love­ly lit­tle stream of data behind you.

And we did­n’t real­ly ask for it. We did­n’t par­tic­u­lar­ly cre­ate a busi­ness mod­el based on adver­tis­ing. But it is the eas­i­est mod­el there is. And we have to rec­og­nize that because it does pay for a lot of good stuff. But if you look how inva­sive it is. This is just the top of the ice­berg. There’s prob­a­bly around sev­en­ty data points that you can derive from a fair­ly aver­age pic­ture.

And the amount of time we spend online is just grow­ing up and up and up. So at the moment, I think kids spend an addi­tion­al five hours per day on the phone. What were they doing before? It’s kind of dif­fi­cult to under­stand until you real­ize it’s all mul­ti­task­ing. So this is not new time. This is the time that they do some­thing else, or we do some­thing else. So we walk on the street, and for twen­ty min­utes between your work and your bus stop you are on the phone. Before you were just walk­ing. So a lit­tle bit, step by step, we’re not just doing one thing but we’re def­i­nite­ly tend­ing towards doing two or three things at the same time, one of them involv­ing a phone. So the aver­age time on the phone at the moment for the teenagers is almost longer than they—I think it’s more than they sleep. I think the num­bers are it’s more than they sleep. And I won­der how many of us can actu­al­ly look at the num­ber of hours spent on the phone, and is it close to how much we sleep? I bet it’s com­ing there.

So, one thing which we kind of missed is the whole growth of cloud com­put­ing. When we had lit­tle flop­py disks, you could­n’t real­ly put that much on it. So if you want­ed to spy on some­body, it would­n’t be ter­ri­bly sat­is­fac­to­ry because the amount of data would­n’t be real­ly suf­fi­cient to do any­thing with, plus it was­n’t acces­si­ble. Now we’ve gone to the cloud, it’s infi­nite what can be stored, and it’s ter­ri­bly acces­si­ble even if you fol­low all the pro­ce­dures and try to make it secure. Cloud essen­tial­ly at the moment is not par­tic­u­lar secure. So the data is just float­ing out there.

So we have the mas­sive increase of data self-input. We just put the data in. All the time, almost ten hours per day, just data goes in. Social media, self­ies, GMail. And also the drones, which cre­at­ed addi­tion­al data points. You can see it more and more in Shoreditch, peo­ple kind of try­ing to inves­ti­gate is there a queue in the night­club before I actu­al­ly both­er to go out?” I think it’s prob­a­bly on the verge of ille­gal but you know, peo­ple do it.

And also cash. One thing we’ve noticed over the last two years, that cash is going. So, mobile pay­ments are par­tial­ly part of it, but obvi­ous­ly cash­less. And when cash goes, data of your pay­ments becomes dig­i­tal, track­able. You can keep it, you can ana­lyze it. It’s a nice lit­tle pile of your dai­ly infor­ma­tion.

And the algo­rithms to inter­pret are get­ting smarter, sharp­er, and faster. So, the com­bi­na­tion of increased stor­age, very low cost of stor­age, and the abil­i­ty to process it just hand­ed over a mas­sive advan­tage to spies.

So we make it hard­er and hard­er on our­selves, because even if you look at self­ies, they were bad enough as self­ies. Now peo­ple have self­ie sticks. So I work very close to Oxford Street and I tell you, it is lethal to try to get through the tourists doing that and that. But its now dou­ble the amount of peo­ple. Because the self­ie stick allows you to take a pic­ture of two peo­ple, three peo­ple, four peo­ple. So yet more data com­ing in, and more facial recog­ni­tion to train the algo­rithms on. So the whole thing is just speed­ing up faster and faster.

But the users are not hap­py. When you look at research— There was a big research by Annenberg Foundation about six months ago. It’s not that peo­ple accept it. They are resigned to accept it. They’re say­ing, Well, we’re not hap­py.” 91% of a quite big study was def­i­nite­ly not hap­py that their per­son­al data’s being shared with­out their knowl­edge, kept by records and with unknown use, or use that is com­mer­cial against them.

But what hap­pened is that they think that there is no oth­er choice. That it is what it is. And they might feel guilty about ad block­ers. Which we dis­cussed before, but ad block­ers is anoth­er big top­ic. So when you look at the val­ue exchange, what peo­ple ques­tioned, they’re say­ing, Who gets my data? I don’t know. How much is it worth to me? I don’t know that, either. Can I revoke my per­mis­sions? Well, I don’t know. How do I lock per­mis­sion based on time and place, because some­times it’s okay to have my data but not the whole time and not when I’m not aware about it.” We don’t real­ly have that con­ver­sa­tion with the adver­tis­ing com­mu­ni­ty at the moment. They just take every­thing, at any point, all the time.

We did quite a big project, which I want to just quick­ly tell you, where we allowed peo­ple to share data with­in a spe­cif­ic time. So when girls go shop­ping between two o’clock, five o’clock on Saturday, it’s okay. Have my data. I can tell you where I am. Location on. Everything. Because I’m kind of expect­ing at that time you will offer me adver­tis­ing deals and it’s fine because I’m in a shop­ping mode. But at five o’clock I’m going to do some­thing else. I don’t want any­body to know any­more. So I switch my loca­tion off. But that’s not enough because there’s still a lot of data flow­ing around.

So what we found is that peo­ple are quite hap­py to do it if it’s con­tex­tu­al­ized. So if it’s from/to, or cer­tain places but not oth­ers. But we haven’t got a for­mu­la to nego­ti­ate that with. So our kind of cur­rent think­ing is prob­a­bly the plat­form to own the data has to be the town. So Hebden Bridge, or York, or Shoreditch, of some­thing that peo­ple actu­al­ly have emo­tion­al attach­ment to, that they think they belong to the tribe of that loca­tion where the data is held by a por­tal that they can go back and nego­ti­ate with.

A few peo­ple are try­ing to do it. But the attach­ment to the secu­ri­ty is def­i­nite­ly local-level. So when we did that research it was in town. It was in North London. So if the data is held shared by local coun­cil I can just about live with it. But any fur­ther, no. So it will be inter­est­ing to see how our iden­ti­ties devel­op in terms of their locale, and then what’s fur­ther. And how far the trust goes. Who are you pre­pared to give the mobile phone to? Your may­or? Your coun­cil­lor? Anybody? At the moment we haven’t got that debate so we don’t know the answer, but our kind of pin in the map is that it’s very local. That peo­ple trust local­ly.

So at this stage we got togeth­er with Tim Berners-Lee, who is pro­mot­ing some­thing called the Digital Magna Carta.” And Tim had this idea, straight after Snowden pret­ty much, that some­thing needs to be fixed, and pro­mot­ed a con­cept of a cer­tain bill of rights for dig­i­tal users world­wide. And it’s a very very inter­est­ing propo­si­tion but it’s glob­al, and law does­n’t work glob­al­ly. Law works local­ly. So we got togeth­er with them and decid­ed that let’s just try to see if we can tri­al it out for the UK. So we’ve got a project called Digital Bill of Rights UK which Tim’s foun­da­tion called the Web We Want Foundation sup­ports, and they have that foun­da­tion in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent coun­tries. So the Italians just got it. So the Italian bill of rights has just been pre­sent­ed to the par­lia­ment.

Our prob­lem is that the UK is a very heav­i­ly sur­veilled coun­try, and every­thing that we put in the Digital Bill of Rights, the gov­ern­ment is basi­cal­ly against. So what Italy seem to be accept­ing, the UK has got a much longer time to inves­ti­gate.

So we took the Digit Bill of Rights on the road, cre­at­ed kind of like a prop­er flip chart and Post-It notes and con­sul­ta­tions and a lit­tle bit of an exchange of what peo­ple think on the top­ic of your data. Is your data your data, or [does] it belong to all the spooks? Is copy­right some­thing that we should be reform­ing? Which in the con­text of 3D print­ing is becom­ing very impor­tant because you can’t real­ly 3D print Lego and not con­tra­vene Lego’s copy­rights. We looked at cyber­se­cu­ri­ty and reform of sur­veil­lance. Because at the moment the sur­veil­lance in the UK is by appoint­ment by the prime min­is­ter. And it tends to go to judges who are well over 70 years old. The last two appoint­ments last week, both new judges on the com­mis­sion­er’s cir­cuit, are sev­en­ty. What do they under­stand of a sur­veil­lance algo­rithm, I do not know. But I would­n’t hold my breath.

So the whole process of sur­veil­lance needs to be reformed. The over­sight is at the moment under nobody’s con­trol. So we’ve sort of thrown it out to see what hap­pens. And one of the last things, which we just added because we thought it would be inter­est­ing to see. The right to dig­i­tal edu­ca­tion, but not as impas­sive, because the gov­ern­ment talks a lot about dig­i­tal edu­ca­tion but all they want peo­ple to do is to be able to fill the form for unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits. If you can do a dig­i­tal form, save the gov­ern­ment a lot of mon­ey, you’re in.

But what we would like to see is still make sure that peo­ple actu­al­ly have the tools to do dig­i­tal work. To join the whole rev­o­lu­tion and not to be just pas­sive vic­tims. And that was prob­a­bly one of the biggest points for peo­ple. We got so many peo­ple say­ing, Are the robots going to take my job away?” Or, No no, our job is going to be fine.”

So what do you do for a liv­ing?”

I’m a clerk.”

Er, okay. That’s prob­a­bly yes.”

So we made a long list of jobs that are at risk. And it was a pret­ty long list. I don’t know if you’ve seen the new list which came out of from the Oxford Internet Institute about all the jobs that are at risk because of automa­tion. So not so much phys­i­cal robots that do things, but robots as in algo­rithms. And that list was incred­i­bly long. So very very few things will be left once that par­tic­u­lar steam engine rev­o­lu­tion goes through. So when we are here, it’s very inter­est­ing to see that obvi­ous­ly this area has been very affect­ed by the first rev­o­lu­tion in a good way, and the sec­ond prob­a­bly the worst way. But the third one will affect every­body wher­ev­er you are. It does­n’t mat­ter where. So the way the work of algo­rithms is devel­op­ing is basi­cal­ly a bunch of guys in hoods sit­ting in California remote con­trol­ling every­body. And at the oth­er end they just need a body on a gig econ­o­my, two pounds fifty per hour. Enough.

Because all the intel­li­gence is in the algo­rithm. And that has hap­pened so quick­ly that we don’t real­ly know how to respond. So, pret­ty much every­body will be unnec­es­sary because the lev­el of automa­tion is press­ing so fast that you only need a tiny hand­ful of peo­ple. You know, I go to offices, I work with big tech com­pa­nies. They’re tiny. Tiny. Like, Twitter…there’s a hand­ful of peo­ple run­ning enor­mous busi­ness­es. So when you go to IBM you kind of thing you know, People are real­ly work­ing here. There’s hun­dreds over there. Two hun­dred there…” God know what they do all day but they kind of do some­thing.

If you go to Reading area, Slough area, around London, they’re the sort of gold tri­an­gle of old tech. And it’s just hun­dreds of peo­ple run­ning around look­ing busy. You go to California, and it’s [?] big build­ings with black mir­rors out­side and there’s no one. There’s just the hum of com­put­ers, zzz zzz zzz. And the big data cen­ters which do all the work. So the new world does not need peo­ple. So the issue of the dig­i­tal rights has sud­den­ly become quite press­ing. So dig­i­tal edu­ca­tion, as in we actu­al­ly want to be the ones who are run­ning it all because there won’t be that much space for peo­ple who are not on that par­tic­u­lar band­wag­on, it needs to hap­pen now. So when I lis­ten to peo­ple like 3D print­ing guys you know, they are absolute­ly on the right path. But they are still slow. It’s still too slow. It needs to hap­pen a lot faster.

So mean­while, while we were try­ing to fig­ure it all out and under­stand that actu­al­ly what Tim has cre­at­ed, the client/server archi­tec­ture, is won­der­ful but it’s a roll to only one direc­tion, a cen­tral­iza­tion of every­thing in very few hands. Because if you build sys­tems for a liv­ing like we do, if you can have one data­base you’re not going to have two. If you can have one of some­thing, you’re not going to have two. So cen­tral­iza­tion, placed in the hands of a very small group of peo­ple. So cen­tral­iza­tion is pow­er. And we bought into dis­trib­uted net­works that are not dis­trib­uted. They are cen­tral­ized as any­thing. So it’s a myth. If any­body tells you about dis­trib­uted net­works, it’s a myth.

Yes, you know, in a net­work­ing way you can bump one and the rest will pick it up, but it does­n’t mean that the data­base is not cen­tral­ized. So we are enter­ing in a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent world where the num­ber of peo­ple need­ed to do any­thing is very lit­tle, com­put­ers do every­thing else, and then we are the warm bod­ies at the end.

So it all kind of cre­at­ed a very dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion than we had before. Before we just did­n’t trust the gov­ern­ment. That was fine. But now we can­not real­ly trust any­body. And I think that any­body start­ed from Google, which has par­tic­u­lar­ly kind of elas­tic ethics. Like when­ev­er it suits them they just push it up and push it down. Apple is a lit­tle bit bet­ter because they have a bet­ter prod­uct, which can finance itself with­out data. But you know what? When they run out of that, they will be back with data. So it’s just tem­po­rary. So I would­n’t feel too good about them.

And then you have Edward, who is sit­ting in Russia try­ing to kind of shov­el every­body to under­stand a lit­tle bit what’s going on and get some aware­ness of cit­i­zen rights. Meanwhile the US gov­ern­men­t’s call­ing him a trai­tor. Very dif­fi­cult to get any con­ver­sa­tion. We had a real­ly great event last year with Vivian Westwood, who is about 72 but she real­ly gets it. So, she was inter­view­ing Edward. One of the ques­tions came up, do Americans under­stand human rights? Because they don’t real­ly have human rights, they have con­sumer rights. So when you talk to American com­pa­nies, it’s all about con­sumer rights. In which case it’s a very dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tion than a con­ver­sa­tion you’d have in UK. So that’s why we decid­ed to push on with the Digital Bill of Rights for UK, and for Sweden, and for Poland sep­a­rate­ly, to real­ly flesh out how far we can push back. And how far we can buy a bit of time by cir­cling some rights around us before the whole thing will be run by only one machine, one guy super­vis­ing it, and fan­tas­tic algo­rithms.

And I think peo­ple feel it, because we’ve noticed a lot of con­ver­sa­tions on the Internet are going into code. So peo­ple came up with this emo­ji stuff, which took on like wild­fire. So a friend of mine did the whole Casablanca in emo­jis. So this is, if you remem­ber that, What about Paris? We will always have Paris.” And peo­ple start­ed using it more and more, and I think now the shift towards emo­ji is almost faster than using text. So I think there is a sort of under­ly­ing sus­pi­cion that if I talk in emo­ji at least peo­ple can’t real­ly under­stand what I’m doing and track me. Which obvi­ous­ly is not true but peo­ple feel it is.

So, there is a group in Italy which is work­ing on try­ing to put a lit­tle bit of a stop on the process and sup­port peo­ple using social net­works, and load­ing the data into social net­works as we seem to like doing, but pro­vide some ele­ment of encryp­tion where you can choose who you share with. So if I want to share the data with my town, because I may want to ben­e­fit from col­lec­tive data shar­ing, then I can say yes, the town is fine. But I don’t par­tic­u­lar­ly to share datat with adver­tis­ers and I don’t want to share data with anoth­er town because we’re com­pet­ing with this town. So they’re try­ing to work out a sys­tem that com­bines the abil­i­ty to use social media but intro­duces lay­ers of shar­ing per­mis­sions which you can put on or revoke in a flu­id way. I’m very pos­i­tive about it.

So, just to get the con­ver­sa­tion more into what the Digital Bill of Rights could mean and what our pro­tec­tion could mean, if you look at the last twen­ty years, which for me were quite ter­ri­ble because we start­ed well and then it came out a bit worse. So what was sup­posed to be the beau­ti­ful com­mu­ni­ty, sharing—you know, we were total hip­pies. We were cryp­to hip­pies, I think. It end­ed up being just one mas­sive sur­veil­lance scheme. So when I hear the pri­vate equi­ty and the data mode of data­base busi­ness plans, it’s just more of the same, and unfor­tu­nate­ly I think it’s just fin­ished eat­ing its own tail. Because I don’t know if you’ve seen, yes­ter­day there was a release of a new app called Peeple. Don’t know if you spot­ted it. It’s com­ing. It’s basi­cal­ly Feefo or Yelp for peo­ple. So if I met you today, I can go to this app and I say,“Oh, 5 out of 10 on looks, 2 out of 10 on hon­esty. Cooks well. Can run Apache…7.”

But if you piss me off, I will put 3.” A 1.” So, I’ve sud­den­ly gained a pow­er over every­body else for the split sec­ond where I pro­vide some absurd, sub­jec­tive rat­ing but it goes into the sys­tem. So there’s a mas­sive back­lash against it, and I hope to God that it won’t hap­pen. But you know, this is rep­u­ta­tion man­age­ment get­ting to the end of itself. Because we did very well on rep­u­ta­tion man­age­ment with Uber, Airbnb, the shar­ing econ­o­my. But I think when it comes to rat­ing peo­ple? It’s prob­a­bly too far.

So I’m sort of hop­ing that the pri­vate equi­ty will just eat itself. You know, that the crazy ideas of mon­e­tiz­ing every­thing to death, and our inti­ma­cy, our pri­va­cy, tak­ing over the data that don’t belong to them, that they will just explode the whole thing by their own stu­pid­i­ty. So I’m very pos­i­tive about it at the moment because I’ve seen this app…this is crazy. This is not gonna hap­pen. But you know, you nev­er know.

So my last twen­ty years, I think the pos­i­tives, the real uni­corns, are all about trust in good way. Where we trust in a pos­i­tive way. Wikipedia. Nobody thought any­thing would come out of it, and I know peo­ple have views on Wikipedia. But you know, it’s there. Amazingly, it’s there, and amaz­ing­ly it’s get­ting bet­ter. We do a lot of work on Wikidata, which I think is a total mir­a­cle because you can recre­ate pages in new lan­guages with­out hav­ing to rewrite the bloody thing from the begin­ning, so it is pret­ty amaz­ing.

And you know, this is just peo­ple sit­ting there doing a lit­tle bit here, a lit­tle bit there, pack­ing it in. And one day you wake up and it’s…massive. Nobody gets paid. It’s real­ly total­ly vol­un­tary. There’s a very tiny team in California, but tiny. And it hap­pened. So that gives me hope that the next twen­ty years can hap­pen again, and a few of those will show up for open data, Mozilla move­ment. You know there are enough build­ing blocks we can take it over.

I’m not quite sure how fast, but Wikipedia took a long time. It was real­ly a very, very, very slow process. But when it achieved its sort of peak point, now it’s devel­op­ing very fast, even in places where peo­ple are not par­tic­u­lar­ly com­put­er lit­er­ate. There’s always a hand­ful of peo­ple who can shov­el stuff in and help oth­ers. We were in Athens last week, and the Greek Wikipedia is incred­i­ble. It is basi­cal­ly hold­ing the data and infor­ma­tion when the news­pa­pers were manip­u­lat­ing it right and left and mid­dle. It was down to Wikipedia to pro­vide data. So, that is kind of over and above the old press. I think it might hap­pen.

And blockchain. Again, it was sort of qui­et­ly bub­bling along, but it is get­ting big­ger and big­ger and I think it could help us to cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion where we don’t need banks. If I can be my own ver­i­fi­er because I own my own data, why would I need a NatWest? If I own my iden­ti­ty, why would I need Lloyd’s? We can do deals between each oth­er. So, that’s quite a big threat for the finan­cial com­mu­ni­ty. I’m not quite sure they under­stand it, but they’re try­ing to buy into it just in case. But I think it’s devel­op­ing as an alter­na­tive.


[This por­tion seems like it may be an excerpt from Q&A.]

You need the tech­ni­cal peo­ple to be the mis­sion­ar­ies. There is no oth­er way. You know, the tech­nol­o­gy will save the world before it kills it because there’s nobody else. In the old­en days peo­ple were hop­ing that unions will save the world, or some­thing will save the world. But that kind of did­n’t work out. So it has to be tech­nol­o­gy and pro­to­typ­ing dif­fer­ent ways, but it’s got to be the com­mu­ni­ca­tion between the tech­ni­cal com­mu­ni­ty and the local set­ting. And techies are not very good at that. We have to learn to do that bet­ter.


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