Blockchain: Transparency Vs Privacy (17 October 2017)

Can we have both?

There is no doubt that Blockchain is a powerful technology: it can change classic business models and add to them the vision of a new economy – in fact, it’s already done that.

Blockchain platforms allow us to build fully transparent and distributed applications. They also eliminate business and political risks associated with centrally managed entities by reducing the need for trust between counterparties.

However, when Blockchain products are discussed two primary issues are always mentioned: scalability and privacy.
Continue reading

Art and Digital Culture (19 September 2017)

Will AI and blockchain bust the art price boom but save the art world?

In the 1990’s, the advent of online price databases for works of art sold at auction changed the industry forever; art buyers could search online for the price history and purported provenance of their desired masterpiece prior to purchase, disrupting the entire value chain that had existed for more than 250 years.

As a result of this new-found transparency in pricing, art as an investment has boomed: art funds have been established, contemporary art market prices soared and the auction market almost tripled from $17.2bn in 2005 to $45bn in 2017. Recently, a Jean Michel Basquiat painting – ‘Untitled’ – sold for $110.5m – until May this year it had been in the same private collection since it was bought at auction in 1984 for $19,000, a rise of nearly x6000 in 33 years!

Continue reading

Real Time Computing: 50 Years On and 50 Years Hence (27 June 2017)

In 1967 an American entrepreneur with experience in the emerging field of ‘real time’ data processing arrived in the UK, intending to set up a software house. He was keen to plug into the local network of people who shared a common interest in the applications of this new technology, and organised a dinner for that purpose.

The evening was a huge success. Held on the 27th June 1967 in the Bourbon Room of the Institute of Directors’ headquarters on Belgrave Square, it was attended by twelve leading entrepreneurs and academics in the fledgling British computing industry. After dinner, each person described his interest in real time data processing and the group agreed to a subsequent meeting to discuss particular problems over a good meal.

From this unassuming start, the Real Time Club was born. The first speaker was a young, energetic genius who is our esteemed speaker this evening.
Continue reading

The Many Faces of Intelligence (23 May 2017)

Presentations & Panel Discussion

Intelligence manifests itself in a variety of ways. This panel will discuss the many faces of intelligence – whether natural or artificial – from both scientific and philosophical points of view.

Connections will be explored between intelligence, information, language, the emotions, and creativity amongst other things, and an attempt will be made to sketch, however roughly and incompletely, some of the features of the landscape of intelligence.

Continue reading

Einstein’s Greatest Mistake (18 April 2017)

Creativity in Changing Times

There are many great minds, but Einstein is in a class above almost all others: up there with Newton, Da Vinci, Bach, and perhaps the greatest genius of all time.

In this talk the esteemed writer David Bodanis looks at how Einstein’s creativity appeared: how it was sustained by humour and religion; how much it depended on his unusual career path as well.

David explores the profound mistake Einstein made at the peak of his powers which would tear apart his life, and lead to decades of near isolation.

Continue reading

Personal Data as an Asset Class (17 January 2017)

Making money and Dodging risk

Yahoo has “lost” a billion personal accounts, but today this is little more newsworthy than a slight increase in shoplifting at Tesco, big data breaches are so frequent. Yahoo is lucky that this didn’t happen under the new GDPR where they could be suffer a fine of 4% of their total global turnover. However, it certainly calls into question their purported acquisition price of $4.8bn and gives them the challenge of increased customer churn. In the UK, is the well reported TalkTalk hack a turning point for the board’s focus on the effectiveness of their cyber security solutions and response?

Continue reading

When Bits Hit the Fan (18 October 2016)

The UK government’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) was built by Chris Gibson to coordinate the vast horde of suppliers, old and new technologies in critical infrastructure across government departments both high profile and deniable.

We are delighted to welcome Chris as our speaker for the second of our “Autumn of Discontent” Real Time Club dinners held in the National Liberal Club in Whitehall.

Continue reading

30 Years a Hacker (20 September 2016)

What’s changed and what hasn’t

“When I was part of a hacking group in London in 1985, our main way of acquiring passwords to read Post-It notes that users had stuck to their monitors! If that didn’t work, we tried common combinations of numbers and words; in way-too-many instances we were successful. As a result, I was arrested and became the defendant in the world’s first hacking-related jury trial.”

Next year, 2017, will mark the 30th anniversary of Schifreen’s and his co-defendant Stephen Gold’s acquittal on all charges, which led to the introduction of the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

Although hacking is now illegal, and the internet has changed the way we live our lives, many things haven’t changed; people are still the weakest link. Post-It notes are still the easiest way to remember a password. Social engineering still works. Where once we lost floppy disks down the back seat of a taxi, now it’s mobile phones that contain tens of gigabytes of our employer’s data.

In this talk Robert Schifreen will discuss some more about what he did back in 1985, how he manged to do it, and what’s changed in the intervening 3 decades. As well as lots about what hasn’t.

Our Speaker: Robert J. Schifreen

Robert is a former UK-based computer hacker and magazine editor, and the founder of IT security awareness training programme SecuritySmart.co.uk. He was the first person charged with illegally accessing a computer system, but was acquitted because there was no such specific criminal offence at the time. Later in life he became a computer security consultant, speaking at many conferences on information security and training banks, large companies and universities in the UK on IT security. In 2014 he began developing the software on which SecuritySmart runs from scratch which reached completion and product launch in June 2016.

Biology is Technology (24 May 2016)

Engineering Biology and the Rise of Biological Computing

After 4 billion years of life on Earth, biology has finally entered the digital age and digital biomanufacturing is a reality.

Now that we have begun to decode the building blocks of living organisms by reading their DNA, we can convert biology into data that can be manipulated and then ‘written’. We can recombine DNA in novel ways to recreate natural materials and build complex biological systems with novel properties and capable of impressive computation.

No longer will computers be simply a tool for decoding DNA: soon, your computer itself could be made of DNA.

Continue reading