Insights Team Expert Commentary
Distributed Ledger Technology Lucy Cameron, Senior Research Consultant
What do you see as the most imminent and impactful application for Distributed Ledger Technology? Do you believe that it is capable of catalysing a new technological revolution?
The places I hear the disruptive effects of DLT talked of most are in financial services (verifying transactions, creating new trade platforms, and transferring value across borders), and in food provenance. One of the first blockchain systems for provenance ever created was done by an Australian woman (Leanne Kemp of Everledger) so buyers around the world were certain they were getting diamonds from ethical Australian mines.
The rise of DLT/blockchain in agriculture and food provenance coincides with the growth of the ‘experience economy’ – whereby consumers want more assurance that they are buying certain values: humanitarian, green, nutritional, organic, low-carbon etc… when they buy their food. It also coincides with an era of greater food uncertainty and concerns about food security (due to growing populations and climate change) and the rise of the middle classes across much of the Asian region.
I’m currently in Vietnam and have just attended a Smart Agriculture conference. There is interest in DLT here to improve the reputation of Vietnamese food supplies and the country brand. DLT can also create new markets – such as carbon trading platforms, energy trading platforms (such as Powerledger) and water trading platforms. Yes I do believe DLT is a transformative technology that can reshape distribution systems and patterns – especially in food. The value of many markets has been in distribution – rather than production – so that’s where I believe DLT technology may make a difference first.
Cyber Security Claire Naughtin, Senior Research Consultant
How important is the role of education and skills development in fostering cybersecurity expertise in Australia? How would you go about bridging the gap between supply and demand in this discipline?
Digital technologies are restructuring the Australian labour market, transforming traditional industries to be more digitally-enabled and creating entirely new industries, such as cybersecurity. The challenge in adapting to these changes is in ensuring that existing workers and those entering the labour market have the relevant skills and expertise to meet these new work requirements.
Employers across many industries are struggling to meet these new labour demands, including the cybersecurity industry. For instance, the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network estimates that Australia will need an extra 11,000 workers to meet emerging cybersecurity workforce demands by 2026.
These days, it is widely acknowledged that ongoing skill development is key to workers adapting with changes in their current role, or transitioning existing skills to a new role. Indeed, active learning on the job is rated as the top in-demand skill in surveys of employers.
There are two necessary pieces of the skill development puzzle: appropriate education and training options, and timely and relevant labour market information. In order to meet emerging skills demands in the workforce, job seekers need access to education and training options that align with new skill needs. “Micro-credentials” could be one solution here – bespoke qualifications that can be completed in a timely manner and on demand.
The other piece of the puzzle is timely and relevant information about trends in the labour market. To make informed decisions, job seekers, workers, employers, education providers and policy makers need access to relevant data and insights into labour supply and demand trends. This can come from better use of existing data to understand and anticipate change in jobs and skills, and seize emerging job opportunities created in Australia’s Industry 4.0.
Privacy Preserving Data Sharing Dinesh Devaraj, Research Analyst
How important is it to consider and resolve the publics concerns about new technologies and new technical capabilities? Do you think digital progress can at times move to quickly without considering the potential impacts on society?
Data can be collected about where we live, who we talk to, what we do online and what we buy (amongst other things). This means that the information age poses significant challenges to individual privacy. In general, a failure to pre-empt and understand these challenges means innovation could be stifled and individual autonomy eroded.
An approach to privacy that does not value the magnitude and complexity of this problem could have serious impacts on digital adoption. A Roy Morgan survey has revealed amongst respondents that 61 per cent of internet users and 64 per cent of non-users were “worried about the potential for invasion and privacy through new technology”.1 An OAIC survey has found that 48 per cent of respondents saw the use of online services and social media as posing the greatest risk to their privacy. A third reported experiencing a problem in the way their personal information was handled in the preceding year.2
The erosion of individual autonomy could emerge insofar as increased knowledge about persons entails increased power over them. Information asymmetries could be exploited to potentiate harm, inequality, discrimination and loss of autonomy. As the Vault 7 scandal has demonstrated,3 rights may be infringed. Biometric data could lead to discrimination in the health insurance industry. The risks go on, and appear inexhaustible.
- ACMA. 2009. Australia in the Digital Economy. Report 1: Trust and Confidence. Canberra: Australian Communications and Media Authority.
- OAIC. 2013. Community Attitudes to Privacy survey, Research Report. Canberra: Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
- 2017. Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed. In: WikiLeaks.Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed.