Something a little different for our blog… The Scotcoin team had the great privilege to ask one of the UK’s best loved IT giants some questions.
Scotcoin Q&A With Dame Stephanie Shirley
At Scotcoin, one third of our holders are women whereas ninety-six percent of bitcoin holders are men. What are your views regarding cryptocurrency and block-chain technology being dominated by men?
Super! Has it not been ever thus in finance?
What advice would you have for the tech world to increase female involvement in the industry?
As with other sexist cultures, the best way to get women to break into the male world of technology remains fighting for what women want: flexible working, free childcare and genuinely equal pay. Will the gender pay gap legislation help? Don’t’ wait for women to leave but organise regular “stay” interviews. Maintain contact and make it easy for women to return after a career break. Since your gender ratio will change as women move into family mode, do a bit of positive recruitment by advertising in places that reach women. And publish data on pay by diversity.
Do you have any views on the new way start-ups are raising funds through ICO’s? Do you see charities using ICO’s to raise funds to bolster their operations?
Start-ups are risky enough without bypassing the venture capitalists’ regulation by raising funds through ICOs. I don’t believe the Charity Commission likes ICOs… Whereas I definitely do.
What are your thoughts on the future of the Internet and, in particular, how it may impact upon a global society?
I co-founded the Oxford Internet Institute roundabout the Millennium to study precisely this. It was the first multi-disciplinary institute in the world looking at the social effects of the internet – the world of the 21st century. This, of course, includes the Internet of Money. Earlier this year it explored the various paths to our digital future and published its Global Internet Report. If only there were a crystal ball! No-one can predict the internet’s future but it’s too important to ignore and by shaping our societies, cultures and economies the internet will define the world ahead. For many young people, the internet is life and is focused on The Digital Divide, Personal Freedoms and Rights and Media and Society.
How do we ensure the continued development of an internet serving all people? In 2016, the Internet Society began to draw on the expertise of key stakeholders from around the globe. The considered conclusion is that while the technology will permeate all aspects of society in as yet unimagined ways, the founding principles of openness, inclusivity, collaboration and transparency will not change.
Development of new applications has moved on at pace in recent years, where do you see it heading over the next 5 – 10 years?
I hope the head-mounted displays will have been replaced by wearable (by which I mean lightweight) computing glasses. I got involved in my first VR project in 1999. And still find its artistic and medical applications fascinating.
What would you say are the most interesting high points you have had over your career?
Governance issues. The transfer of my company’s control from me to the workforce which took me 11 years to achieve. I also got a tremendous kick out of our first million pound sale.
Scotcoin sits outside the normal banking framework thus disrupting current financial institutions. How do you feel about disruption?
Could the Scotcoin future of money contribute to devolution? Post Brexit, would a Scottish Referendum herald digital cash as an alternative to both the pound and the euro?
Do you think if you were working today you would be described as a ‘disruptor’?
I was shocked when first called a disruptor. Was it an insult? But that’s exactly what I am: changing the culture, the social norms as well as the technology.
My current life is focused on autism, my late son’s disorder. And yes, I continue to make waves (to mix my metaphors) in that field.
Dame Stephanie Shirley CH
18 October 2017