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Innovation 05 Dec 2018

‘Blockchain’, ‘tokens’, quantum computing… what are European innovation leaders talking about?

A group of prominent innovation leaders and experts gathered recently in Paris to attend the Innovation Leaders Summit, organized by the MIT Technology Review. BBVA’s was the only major bank to take part as speaker at the event. Here, it debated on current topics, such as the role of blockchain in the emerging tokenized economy and the security challenges posed by quantum computing.

This is the first forum of its kind organized by the prestigious publication, owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Europe. During the event, a number of key issues for the innovation ecosystem were addressed, including the ethical challenges surrounding artificial intelligence, cybersecurity or human-machine relationships.

Carlos Kuchkovsky, Head of Research & Development, New Digital Business, attended the event on behalf of BBVA. In his initial speech, Kuchkovsky spoke about the “paradigm shift that is underway, from an economy based on non-transparent data platforms, to an economy based on open data platforms, where the owner of the data is the consumer.”

He also made reference to the exploration of blockchain technologies in the emerging token-based economy, which is under full development thanks to the value and variety of existing crypto-assets, which are changing business models. In his opinion, the use of tokens, plus data and artificial intelligence, can give rise to a new way of creating value and prosperity, and also of distributing them.

Kuchkovsky also analyzed how tokens represent value and their impact on organizations, in combination with data analysis techniques, to yield a different value of blockchain-based systems and artificial intelligence.

In his opinion, a common component of new economic models is the massive use of data thanks to real-time internet connections. In this sense, he considers that it is essential to understand how blockchain can generate a huge amount of data and provide a common data base to train recent artificial intelligence models.

The challenges of quantum computing

Carlos Kuchkovsky also presented and moderated a panel on the challenges posed by quantum computing. An issue that, going forward, will need to be solved will be the design of encryption algorithms in the post-quantum era. While still not a pressing issue, it is already part of the debate among experts.

For BBVA’s Head of Research & Development, New Digital Business, “we need to start thinking about this, for a number of reasons, such as security.” And here’s where one of the big questions arises: What will happen with the information that is safe today thanks to current encryption systems if quantum computing can break this safe communication between the players involved?

In this sense, he made reference to company databases where all customer-related information is stored. These platforms could be affected if somebody figures out a way to breach the current encryption that prevents third parties from accessing said information, compromising data privacy.

Quantum computing and other emerging technologies —blockchain, artificial intelligence, etc.— have the potential to boost prosperity and contribute to the advance of society. Precisely, one of the last presentations, by Thomas W. Malone, a professor at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, explored how people and computers can be connected so that —collectively— they act more intelligently than any person, group, or computer has ever done before.

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