Highlights from the 2016 National Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) Conference
As President of the Victoria, BC Chapter of IPAC, I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 IPAC Conference in Toronto. The theme of this year’s conference was “to explore the critical relationship between 'principles' and 'practices' and how, together, they contribute to 'possibilities' that will build a responsive, future public service.” This year’s conference attracted 800 delegates from across Canada to hear and discuss information, advice, and predictions around this theme and beyond from a variety of thought leaders.
The ambitious conference program included nine plenary sessions, 42 concurrent sessions, 10 field trip options, as well as some fabulous social events including my favourite – a reception at Ripley’s Aquarium. I’ve never experienced anything quite like enjoying great conversations, excellent food and wine all while keeping an eye on the (real) shark swimming over my head!
Over the coming weeks, I will share some of the conference highlights from my perspective starting with the fascinating opening keynote presentation by Alex Tapscott, co-author of Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business and the World.
If Alex’s last name seems familiar, his co-author and father is Don Tapscott, digital innovator and author of several books including the 2006 bestseller Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.
Alex describes Blockchain as "the second era of the Internet.” Blockchain removes the middleman in financial exchanges; this allows the consumer to pay less and the seller to capture more of the total transaction value. Rather than relying on a trusted intermediary (like Paypal) to protect your interests, blockchains rely on mass collaboration and clever code.
The first and best-known use of Blockchain so far is Bitcoin. According to Alex, the peer-to-peer exchange technology behind Bitcoin will shape the next era of prosperity. But before you start running staff seminars to prepare for the Blockchain revolution, Alex closed his presentation with the 10 reasons why Blockchain could fail to live up to its potential:
The technology is not ready for prime time
The energy consumed is unsustainable – the currency uses too much electricity right now – a single Bitcoin transaction uses roughly enough electricity to power 1.57 American households for a day
Government will stifle or twist it
Powerful incumbents of the old paradigm (e.g., huge multi-national corporations) will usurp it
The incentives are inadequate for distributed mass collaboration
Blockchain is a job killer
Governing the protocols is like herding cats
Distributed autonomous agents will form "Skynet" (Terminator reference)
Big brother is (still) watching you.
Criminals will use it.
If you’re like me, you haven’t really given Bitcoin much thought but we should. Anyone that thinks that Bitcoin isn’t relevant to the Canadian government should know that Bitcoin is gaining in popularity. The British Government is even thinking of using Bitcoin for paying out research grants: Bitcoin’s Blockchain Uses Could 'Transform Government'
While it may be a while before Bitcoin is truly mainstream, innovative public servants are encouraged to look ahead and be prepared for the inevitable questions from both the public and politicians about the benefits and risks of Bitcoins and the broader blockchain concept.
Next up is a blog posting about Viveka Kundra’s 2016 IPAC Conference keynote presentation. Viveka, now Executive Vice President of Salesforce, shared fascinating lessons learned from his time as the Chief Information Officer for President Barack Obama.
If you’d like to discuss any of these thoughts further or how Berlineaton can help your organization prepare for the future, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 250.472.3767.