Eddie Hughes, Conservative MP for Walsall has called on our government to create the new position of 'Chief Blockchain Officer', and to embrace blockchain technology as a method of transforming the UK's data systems. Let's say that again. He wants a 'Chief Blockchain Officer', because everything should be blockchain these days.
In fairness to Hughes, he's not one of those people who seems to have jumped onto the blockchain bandwagon because it's there. He's actually published a paper highlighting all the benefits that could come from the government adopting blockchain technology on a large scale, along with a number of recommendations on how it can be used. One of those recommendations is appointing a Chief Blockchain Officer who would be responsible for co-ordinating all efforts to help the public sector embrace the new technology.
Sometimes it's very hard to take blockchain seriously. There are many benefits that could conceivably come from Blockchain technology. For example, because the ‘ledger’ database is distributed and not stored in any one place, it can act as a way to permanently store data that cannot be hacked or changed.
But recently blockchain has become a bandwagon and a buzzword. The number of emails I receive each day using the term 'blockchain' as their key selling point makes me want to repeatedly slam my head against a wall. In part that seems to be because people will jump on anything mentioning blockchain without thinking about what they're doing - like the time Long Island Ice tea changed its name to Long Blockchain.
But Hughes' heart seems to be in the right place. He's not bringing up blockchain because it's cool or fashionable, which is exactly what we need to start happening elsewhere. By embracing blockchain he says the government could end up creating an "unrivalled opportunity to begin to review and redesign the UK’s data systems." Things mentioned within his report include better data security and efficiency for the NHS, ensuring food labels are actually accurate (bringing up the 2013 horse meat scandal as an example), as well as big changes to the financial sector - something the head of the Bank of England has already discussed.
Other key proposals include setting up a UK-based international 'blockchain competition' to inspire British entrepreneurs and help attract foreign investment in British companies. He's also suggested a development target of one per cent efficiency saving for the government to adopt.