Trust & the Digital Economy Workshop

Thursday, September 6th 2012

In association with the British Science Festival 2012

James Scotland Room (Room 028), MacRobert Building, University of Aberdeen

Digital Economy research is working to realise the transformational impact of digital technologies on aspects of community life, cultural experiences, future society, and the economy.

The notion of trust lies at the heart of the Digital Economy, as our daily interactions are increasingly mediated by technology. More than ever, we rely on individuals or services with whom we have had no contact in the past, and might never have again. For example, virtual workplaces allow globally dispersed teams to collaborate without ever meeting face-to-face. Social networking technologies easily expose us to the opinions and thoughts of thousands of strangers, but are capable of turning personal data into valuable corporate assets. Organisations increasingly publish data in formats which facilitate aggregation and cross-referencing, but the quality of these data may vary dramatically. There is a lack of public awareness of these issues, and social policy struggles to keep pace with this rapidly evolving landscape. Such emerging problemsrequire new ways of thinking about trust in the digital age, and new approaches to designing technologies for managing trust and helping to mitigate risk in online interactions.

This one-day workshop (preceded by dinner on the evening of the 5th) seeks to draw together academics, practitioners, and professionals of all disciplines and backgrounds to discuss the key problems of trust faced by today's digital economy, and explore methodologies, technologies, policies and tools for addressing them. 


Thirsday 6th of September:


09:00 - 09:30    Registration and Coffee
09:30 - 09:40    Introduction
09:40 - 10:30    Keynote: Trust in technology and empirical evidence: two perspectives (Tim Storer, School of Computing Science, University of Glasgow)
10:30 - 11:00    Coffee Break
11:00 - 12:30    Presentations 
  • Regulation and trust in the digital economy: an uneasy relationship. (Ray Corrigan,  Open University)
    • Abstract: What have terrorism, copyright infringement, spam, child protection and organised crime got in common?  They have all been cited by policymakers as reasons for introducing internet related laws. Unfortunately too many of these regulations are passed by legislatures lacking a rudimentary understanding of the technologies they are attempting to control. This has significant implications for innovators, economic agents and citizen consumers which go to the heart of what it means to engender trust in the digital economy.
  • Provenance: A Mechanism for Improving Trust in the Digital Economy? (Colin Venters, University of Leeds)
    • Abstract: Data and the information derived from it is a highly valuable commodity in the digital economy. This data is increasingly stored and processed in distributed, heterogeneous data sources and services. Knowing how data or information was derived including its origins and transformations is of significant importance to data consumers to determine its efficacy.  To address this, a number of advocates and theorists postulate that provenance is critical to building trust in data and the services that generated it as it provides a mechanism for data consumers to make informed decisions regarding features such as its quality and other dimensions of the data to determine its suitability for any given tasks. STRAPP (Trusted Digital Spaces through Timely Reliable and Personalized Provenance) is a collaborative project that aims to address the issue of trust in the use of shared digital spaces, by developing innovative uses of provenance data to enhance the trust in the decision making process. This presentation provides an overview of provenance research within the domains of Equipment Health Monitoring (EHM) and brain injury highlighting key themes, challenges and issues as well as emerging areas related to utilizing provenance as a mechanism for improving trust in data in order to make critical, high-value decisions.
  • Tracking Trust: Spatio-temporality in Real and Virtual Economy (Gillian Youngs, University of Brighton)
    • Abstract: Spatio-temporal dimensions of trust relate to complex matrices of agency and identification in the digital age. My research suggests that digital economy needs to be embedded further in the study of three areas, the historical development of capitalism, globalization, and linkages between 'real' and 'virtual' economy and processes, in order to understand the ways in which relations and structures of trust are being 'stretched'. This area is key to diverse policy and operational challenges. More detailed understanding of the new spatio-temporal contexts for trust, concrete and virtual, are likely to be increasingly valuable
12:30 - 13:30    Lunch and Posters Session
13:30 - 15:00    Presentations
  • Internet & Trust – Personal Data Stores (Alex Stobart, Mydex Data Services)
    • Abstract: We don’t really know what goes on within the Internet, or what is done with what we give it. Our lack of knowledge means our lack of control goes unnoticed by most of us. Our digital rights are almost non-existent. There is a lack of public awareness of these issues, and social policy struggles to keep pace with this rapidly evolving landscape. But, can basic human rights extend to the digital world? Mydex CIC believes individuals should own their own data, and proof of identity, have a right to choose privacy, assert proof of claims, stop their data being used by others and decide the level of sharing they wish to do. Individuals can then manage their lives more effectively through convenient, trustworthy access and control of their personal data and how they and others use it. This more equal, democratic arrangement may secure a more trustworthy, convenient and balanced personal data ecosystem.

    Trust, behaviour recognition and obfuscation (Tim Norman, University of Aberdeen)

    • Abstract: The emergence of large-scale, distributed, sensor-enabled pervasive applications necessitates engaging with service providers on demand. In these highly fluid environments, assessing the trustworthiness of and making commitments to trust in a partner are major challenges. What indirect evidence can be used to make a trust assessment? If there is little or no direct evidence of the past behaviour of a service provider, under what conditions can/should a commitment to trust be made? Furthermore, interacting with others (using services, asking for others' opinions, etc.) may reveal information about your behaviour, preferences and, possibly, intentions. How can you manage (for example, through obfuscation) your profile, as perceived by others in such environments?
  • Trust issues in the design of future energy systems (Gerd Kortuem, Open University)
    • Abstract: The current energy landscape is characterized by distrust between consumers and energy companies: energy consumers suspect that energy suppliers collude to inflate prices and doubt the accuracy of information provided by energy suppliers. New technology such as smart meters and algorithms for disaggregated end-use energy sensing for the smart grid raise novel privacy concerns that could further add to the mistrust of energy companies by consumers. This talk explores the role ICT can play in increasing trust between stakeholders in future energy systems.
15:00 - 15:15    Coffee
15:15 - 16:00    Discussion
16:00 - 16:15    Concluding Remarks