7 key insights on blockchain adoption from Data61

Elise Roberts
Sep 21, 2018 · 6 min read
Dr Mark Staples (left) interviews Lucas Cullen, Natasha Blycha and Katrina Donaghy at D61 + LIVE

A bit of background

Data61 is the data arm of Australia’s national science organisation, CSIRO. Every year they get together to showcase their R&D and discuss the way forward for data challenges in Australia.

1. Adoption is not as slow as people think

To kickstart the conversation, Staples raised the point that many people are frustrated with the fact that blockchain technology has not yet been adopted into real, large-scale production.

2. Technology isn’t the problem

Two years ago the Queensland government recruited Donaghy to undertake their first blockchain proof of concept, after which she worked for the Federal Government’s Department of Industry on a Water Ledger project for the Murray Darling Basin. Donaghy said working with government has taught her a lot about the adoption process.

3. Business leaders struggle with open source

On the business front, the panel identified some challenges that are blockchain-specific, and others that are common to innovation in general.

“When you go and pitch it, you say it’s open source and anyone can write to it — that’s going to freak people out.”

Cullen had also seen business groups struggle with the concept of a decentralised workforce, where there’s no dedicated IT team that you can call if something goes wrong.

4. C-suite fatigue and legal uncertainty are common innovation challenges

The panel identified executive fatigue as another difficult hurdle, but something that every new technology faces.

5. There are still question marks around human data rights

Blycha explained that distributed ledger technology (DLT) poses many practical problems. One of these is how the public, permissionless nature of DLT interacts with data rights.

6. Private key management is another major hurdle

When Staples asked what other advances needed to be made to pave the way for better blockchain adoption, the conversation turned to the difficulties that people have in managing their own private keys.

“Everyone owning their own wallets and keys is a massive challenge. You get announcements on it being solved, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

Staples pointed out that it’s a trade-off between trustlessness and personal responsibility.

7. Nevertheless, Australia is a frontrunner

Towards the end of the interview, questions from the audience revolved around Australia’s place in the blockchain movement. The panel was unanimously positive.

“We’ve got awesome talent here…I think the world looks towards Australia on implementation.”

Blycha was quick to agree.

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Frankl - an open science platform on the ethereum blockchain

Elise Roberts

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Frankl Open Science

Frankl - an open science platform on the ethereum blockchain