IN DIALOGUE WITH OUR ELONTECH EXPERTS | January-March 2019: Cecile Baird

Cecile Baird, Entrepreneur, Blockchain for Good, ELONTech Advisor


1)  Do disinformation and digital media constitute a challenge to democracy?

Having different opinions is healthy for public debate and democracy. However targeting individuals with alternative facts, fake news, post-truths and lies to influence how they think, decide, and will vote, is very dangerous for our democracy.

The impact of disinformation and digital media to our democracy has already had an impact from the UK leaving the European Union to the presidential elections in the USA. You could say that we are living in an information war, best noticed when we look out from our screens and take a  birds eye view of the political activity in the West.


2)  Can we hold algorithmic decision-making systems accountable?

In 2019 holding an an algorithm accountable is holding nobody accountable. Algorithms are created by humans, who have written the codes and values, and they should be held accountable. We should also expect transparency of the values programmed & their outcomes.


3) Is it possible or desirable to build moral principles into AI systems?

Good morals will enable human and robots  to work cooperatively in groups. We want to teach and train AI, the difference between good and bad values, the principles of right and wrong behaviour. However, before giving AI systems a sense of morality, engineers and experts in this field would have to first define moral values, which is hurdle number 1, then teach it in a way that Artificial Intelligence Systems can process: through objective metrics, which is not how morality as we know it works.


4)  What do you consider the next 5 years challenge /trend for the research  and  innovation in your field of expertise?

The internet is highlighting a new series of pressing problems we need to solve. Blockchain, distributed ledger technology, can provide the technology to solve some of these problems.

I expect to see more startups built on decentralised data storages rather than a centralised corporate controlled data service model, such as Facebook and Google, which is susceptible to corruption and enables mass surveillance.


Self-sovereign identities for both everyday consumers to create seamless secure online services for commerce as well as for government services. Hopefully refugees and the homeless will benefit from these advancements too.

More applications that use blockchain to prove rights or ownership and time-stamping that are cryptographically secure.

Also progress with stable coins and Security Token Offerings, which will also be an exciting space to look out for.


5) You worked and lived both in EU and US. In your opinion, what is the difference between the european and american societies in accepting innovation and embracing the so-called “disruption” at all dimensions and fields of social life?  ANt blockchain for good – project that you discovered lately?


Some context, I am a European (Franco-British) raised in London and educated within the French school system. I recently moved to California to expand our company and raise our family.

Not only is everything bigger in the States from the food portions to the cars they drive, but it seems to transcend into a “Think Big” attitude aided by this “Can Do” American spirit and much less of a social stigma of failing. Think Big, Can Do, less fear of Failure and more investment money available for startups creates a very welcoming stage for innovation. I also find there is some terrific customer service processes which is crucial for growing business’.

Europe has a long history, with traditions and architecture that needs to be protected, observed and respected, it is a nostalgic place. Disruption challenges traditions and there is something ‘sad’ & upsetting about that. In general, the Europeans are more careful in their decision making compared to the States. And unfortunately although Europe is a large economy, the many languages causes fragmentations, making it less attractive to VCs. But Europe manufactures world class goods, products & produce and is immensely creative. And although regulation is stricter than in America I do think that Europe do put overall citizens rights and environment first over business’ & profit, and that is a good thing.