Tech industry leaders, including former Cambridge Analytica exec, gather at UCSB to talk blockchain technology

In an age where fears of fake news and misinformation run high, folks are brainstorming ways to increase transparency regarding data and technology.

An increasing portion of the tech community believes the solution lies with blockchain technology, and Santa Barbara’s first ever Blockchain Summit, held Saturday at UCSB’s Corwiin Pavilion, provided a platform where proponents and doubters shared their ideas.

What exactly is blockchain? It is a chain of cryptographically signed blocks of data, and each block represents individual transactions. The chain can be distributed across different linked computers and cannot be tampered with. Some describe blockchain as open source technology because it can be analyzed by any user whose access is not controlled by a central figure of authority.

Blockchain gained popularity after the global financial crisis exploded in 2008. People’s trust in banking institutions declined and cryptocurrencies began to be thought of as a way to avoid another financial crisis.

In the past decade, however, blockchain has been used beyond the cryptocurrency world. In Switzerland, a blockchain project is being used for voter registration. The Chilean government has begun using the technology in the energy sector, specifically regarding energy usage. Even border control may soon be using blockchain in the Netherlands. Proponents of blockchain believe that the open source nature of the technology will increase transparency of information in a society.

Julian Wheatland — who served as CEO, CFO and COO of the now defunct political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica — reflected on how his former company could have benefited from this type of open source technology and ethical compliance.

“This whole question of ethical compliance is really underserved in terms of the way that we think about businesses … manage technology. And we should put a lot more effort into coming up with a structure or structures that…

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