View profile

DataScan: Issue #51

Blockchains: How they work and why they’ll change the world. Should the government be helping chariti


October 8 · Issue #51 · View online
Curated digest on the world of data.

Blockchains: How they work and why they’ll change the world. Should the government be helping charities prepare for the GDPR? How can collaborative technologies boost business performance? What does anonymous data reveal about our lives? Is AI riding a one-trick pony?
💌  Forwarded this email? Join my data digest for free

Blockchains: How they work and why they’ll change the world. ⛓ Morgan Peck provides an overview of the tech behind Bitcoin and Ethereum and the potential impact on the financial industry. In 2014, R3 (a group of top financial institutions) explored how the blockchain could be used to “improve the efficiency of payments between banks”. 💸  However, in comparison to cryptocurrencies:
Financial institutions are also legally required to protect customer data and control its export across national or regional lines. Given that public blockchains replicate the entire transaction record on every computer in the network, it’s impossible to restrict the chain of custody while using them.

Thus was born the “permissioned ledger” approach to blockchain technology. In a permissioned ledger, the identity of people adding blocks is known, and data in the system is viewable only by selected parties. Because the right to create new blocks is assigned by the people who run the code rather than by a lottery, there is no need for proof-of-work mining or a cryptocurrency to pay for it.
Furthermore, Peck discusses the problems around smart contracts –>  blockchains can’t store much data and are unaware of what is going on in the real world as blockchains were never designed to query websites. This means all external information needs to be “injected” in by a “trusted” third party. 🤔 For example, if a smart contract is a “flight insurance system”, information on whether a flight takes off and lands would need to be “injected” into the system. 🛩
Also, in the context of healthcare, a recent Black Book survey finds that “blockchain is increasingly being viewed as a potential solution to numerous IT problems, such as connectivity issues, data privacy concerns, and patient record sharing barriers”. 🏥 Interestingly - the findings point out the “lack of technical standards” is causing “regulatory uncertainty” - which is perhaps causing the slow adoption. 💡
Side note – can blockchain revolutionise archaeological data?
Should the government be helping charities prepare for the GDPR? 🔍  A survey of more the 300 UK charities by the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) revealed that a fifth of charities have not yet taken any steps to prepare for the more stringent data protection regulation. 😳  The biggest challenge, cited by 72% of respondents, is a “lack of clear guidance”:
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has not yet published its final guidance on consent, but the law is written and final and the commissioner has put out a range of resources for all organisations to think about the new law.
– This comes following the ICO fining 13 major UK charities earlier in the year for breaking the law when handling donor’s data. 😰
How can collaboration technologies boost business performance? 📈  Neat research report by Accenture explaining the importance of using collaboration technologies to “shape how work is performed and enable teamwork that leads to better results, greater innovation and higher productivity”. 👍  Importantly, collaboration means “working together” - so co-labouring, not just co-talking. For example - 
Increasingly, companies are embracing new operating models in which multiple organizations—the company, its vendors, its outsourcers, its partners and others—work together toward a unified goal. Such an operating model will be successful only if people from the different organisations collaborate effectively.
What does anonymous data reveal about our lives? Long write-up by DJ Pangburn exploring how much insight can be gained from accessing raw anonymous location data. 😬  Pangburn asked Gilad Lotan, now vice president of BuzzFeed’s data science team, to “look at a month’s worth of two different users’ anonymised location data, and to come up with individual profiles that were as accurate as possible”. Lotan discusses the type of personal information which can be derived and how this is used by advertisers to personalise, segment and figure out “how to sell to people based on a better understanding of them”. 👾
Does the Equifax hack have the hallmarks of state-sponsored pros? 🙀 EXCELLENT article by Michael Riley, Jordan Robertson and Anita Sharpe covering how the Equifax intruders “used techniques that have been linked to nation-state hackers in the past”:
Besides amassing data on nearly every American adult, the hackers also sought information on specific people. It’s not clear exactly why, but there are at least two possibilities: They were looking for high-net-worth individuals to defraud, or they wanted the financial details of people with potential intelligence value.
Highly recommend giving the full write-up a read.  –> “No law can fix stupid” - but this week Equifax still won an IRS contract to protect taxpayers from fraud. 🙈
How British courts may unlock secrets of how Trump campaign profiled US voters. 🕵
🤖  Is AI riding a one-trick pony?
🎓  This high school girl built a hacking station for her graduation assignment - “designed to educate people about the importance of data protection by putting them in the shoes of the attacker”.
✅  Issie Lapowsky explores how OpenGov is helping local government to create websites so their constituents can see, in bar graphs and charts, how their tax dollars are being spent.
⛔  More data was lost or stolen in the first half of 2017 than all of 2016
😎  Google and Apple reported a jump in requests for user data.
🔥  Does Tinder know your deepest, darkest secrets?
🛩  YouGov’s data explains why Monarch collapsed.
📊  Mapping ecosystems of software development.
🍰  Data viz: how popular is your birthday? -
Did you enjoy this issue?
If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here
Powered by Revue