How Canada can be a global leader in blockchain technology

This article outlines some of the conclusions from a 2016-17 research project conducted by the Tapscott Group on behalf of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and written by Don and Alex Tapscott. The full report is available here.

The first era of the Internet was based on information and content being available anywhere and any time. Now, the second era – powered by blockchain technology – is bringing us the Internet of value: a new, distributed platform that will help us reshape the world of business and transform the old order of human affairs for the better.

Blockchain is a distributed ledger in which anything of value can be stored, ranging from money, stocks, bonds and intellectual property, to votes, art, music, loyalty points, carbon credits, health-care records and student accomplishments. Even our identities can be stored, transacted, communicated and managed securely and privately.

In addition to revolutionizing financial services, blockchain will be the foundation for integrating into our economy technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things and robots. Governments will shift their computer systems to blockchain. Even the Canadian dollar could become a digital dollar based on blockchain.

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Blockchain Could Help Artists Profit More from Their Creative Works

Anyone who follows the cultural industries — art, music, publishing, theater, cinema — knows of the tussles between artists and those who feed off of their talents. The traditional food chain in movie-making, for example, is a long one: Between those who create a film and those who pay for it — movie goers, cable subscribers, pay-per-viewers, advertisers, rights licensees, and institutional sponsors such as the National Endowment for the Arts — is a multitude of middlemen: online retailers (Amazon, Walmart), streaming video services (Netflix, YouTube, Hulu), theatre venues (Wanda’s AMC, Regal, Cinemark), product placement and media agencies (Propaganda GEM, Omicom’s OMD), film producers (Columbia Pictures, Marvel Studios, Disney-Pixar), movie distributors (Sony Pictures, Universal, Warner Bros.), home marketers (Fox, HBO), cable and satellite services (Comcast, DirectTV), video syndicators (PMI, TVS), film libraries and archives (Eastman House, Getty Images), and talent agencies (WME, CAA, ICM), each with its own contracts and accounting systems. That’s a staggeringly long list.

Each of these middlemen takes a cut of the revenues and passes along the rest, with the leftovers typically reaching the artists themselves months later, per the terms of their contracts.

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How Blockchain Is Changing Finance

Our global financial system moves trillions of dollars a day and serves billions of people. But the system is rife with problems, adding cost through fees and delays, creating friction through redundant and onerous paperwork, and opening up opportunities for fraud and crime. To wit, 45% of financial intermediaries, such as payment networks, stock exchanges, and money transfer services, suffer from economic crime every year; the number is 37% for the entire economy, and only 20% and 27% for the professional services and technology sectors, respectively. It’s no small wonder that regulatory costs continue to climb and remain a top concern for bankers. This all adds cost, with consumers ultimately bearing the burden.

It begs the question: Why is our financial system so inefficient? First, because it’s antiquated, a kludge of industrial technologies and paper-based processes dressed up in a digital wrapper. Second, because it’s centralized, which makes it resistant to change and vulnerable to systems failures and attacks. Third, it’s exclusionary, denying billions of people access to basic financial tools. Bankers have largely dodged the sort of creative destruction that, while messy, is critical to economic vitality and progress. But the solution to this innovation logjam has emerged: blockchain.

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The Muskoka Group Marks a Line in the Sand for Blockchain Stewardship

Blockchain is a radical and disruptive technology, at our service for another kick at the can—to transform the economic power grid and the old order of human affairs for the better. If we will it. But technology is not a panacea and it does not create prosperity. People do. Only with the right leadership can we fulfil its promise.

In order for blockchain technology to reach its potential, the industry must first overcome a number of obstacles. To do so will require good governance and stewardship to maintain and advance ecosystem health. With that in mind, two weeks ago, Don Tapscott (my co-author) and I brought together leading figures from the industry in the hopes of laying a foundation for this nascent governance network and drawing a roadmap for the future.

Here are the Muskoka Group’s ten recommendations to create a thriving blockchain industry:

Read Alex’s full article on Forbes

Blockchain Democracy: Government Of The People, By The People, For The People

We live in a crisis-wracked world. “The once-heralded Arab Spring has given way almost everywhere to conflict and repression,” wrote Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Many governments have responded to the turmoil by downplaying or abandoning human rights,” using the Internet to spy on citizens, using drones to drop explosives on civilians, and imprisoning protesters at events like the Olympics.

That’s the wrong response, according to economist Hernando de Soto. “The Arab Spring was essentially and still is an entrepreneurial revolution, people who have been expropriated,” said de Soto. “Basically, it’s a huge rebellion against the status quo,” the systematic trampling of citizens’ rights until they have no choice but to work outside the system.

That’s where the blockchain comes in. Blockchain is a vast, global distributed ledger or database running on millions of devices and open to anyone, where not just information but anything of value – money, but also titles, deeds, identities, even votes – can be moved, stored and managed securely and privately– and where trust can be established through mass collaboration and clever code rather than by powerful intermediaries like governments and banks.

Read Alex’s full article on Forbes

Blockchain is a disruption we simply have to embrace

The technology likely to have the greatest impact on the financial services industry and the world of business has arrived. Not peer-to-peer lending, artificial intelligence, big data, robo-advisers or Apple Pay – I’m talking about the blockchain, the technology behind digital currencies such as bitcoin. Blockchain represents nothing less than the second generation of the Internet, and it holds the potential to profoundly transform the financial services industry.

Because the first generation of the Internet was built for moving and storing information, not value, it has done little to change how we do business or access financial services. When you send someone information, you’re really sending a copy, not the original. It’s okay to have a printing press for information – but not for money.

As a result, we rely on powerful intermediaries, such as banks, to establish trust. Today’s financial intermediaries also perform eight important functions in business and society: authenticating identity and reputation, moving value, storing value, lending and borrowing, exchanging value, funding and investing, insurance and risk management, and audit and tax. We call these the “golden eight,” and they will all be transformed through blockchain.

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Blockchain holds key to reinventing energy grid

In the near future, the Internet of Things (IoT) will enable billions of smart devices to sense, respond, communicate and share data. Those things will also have the ability to generate, buy and sell their own electricity.

Now imagine if each household that has the ability — and a lot of these things — to generate and store electricity can enter into automated, peer-to-peer transactions with neighbours or sell power back into the grid at the market rate, rather than through a third-party utility.

But first, consider the aging energy grid of today, which is from the industrial age — large central sources broadcasting power to “dumb” appliances. This will have to change.

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The Internet of Things Needs A Ledger of Things

Using emerging software and technologies, we can instill intelligence into existing infrastructure such as a power grid by adding smart devices that can communicate with one another, reconfigure themselves depending upon availability of bandwidth, storage, or other capacity and therefore resist interruption.

Turns out blockchain, the powerful new technology that underpins cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, is critical to this. Blockchain is a vast, global distributed ledger or database running on millions of devices and open to anyone, where not just information but anything of value –like money and units of energy – can be moved and stored securely and privately peer to peer, and where trust is established, not by powerful intermediaries like banks, governments and technology companies, but rather through mass collaboration and clever code.

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Coin Toss | Will blockchain undermine or buttress state power?

Ever since the Romans established a central currency system in the third century BC, money has been controlled by the state as a tool of political power. This control was exerted by manufacturing coins, issuing currencies backed by stored gold and, eventually, through central currency reserves. In each of these phases of monetary history, the state had near universal control over money. As such, the state could tax and regulate its use and fund its own activities.

Bitcoin was imagined by an anonymous computer programmer (or group of programmers—their identity is unknown) known as Satoshi Nakamoto in an attempt to break the tie between the state and money. It was intended to be the lingua franca of the internet—a currency born of, designed for and using the attributes of the World Wide Web.

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Mark Carney has seeded a revolution by embracing fintech

After Britain’s referendum vote to leave the European Union, Brexit’s loudest advocates scurried from public view and the political establishment descended into a caustic battle for control. Emerging from the melee was Theresa May, who has a reputation for consistency, if little else. But Britain doesn’t need a caretaker in these uncertain times. It needs bold, innovative leadership.

One person has quietly stepped up: Canadian Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England. Mr. Carney acted quickly to stem the Brexit panic. Now, he can and should do more.

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