An internal Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) note released to press under the Access to Information Act in the last few days included blockchain technologies in its list of “mega trends” set to alter the economy and society.

The classified document was created by Canada’s spy agency CSIS in late 2016 for then Director Michel Coulombe. It detailed “mega trends” the agency was monitoring as factors which would affect economies, society, and security in the next five to 15 years. CSIS originally created the note in preparation for a November 2016 deputy ministers committee meeting on national security.

The paper covered a number of trends including blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies. After naming various technologies, the report said, “each of these trends brings promise and challenge.”

It went on to raise concerns that the rate and impact of technological advances would be a challenge for organizations. The report then warned that good leadership, partnerships, and investments would be necessary to deal with the pace of change.

A key message to policy-makers was the need to understand their current level of knowledge of disruptive technologies and their potential national security risks, alongside how to ensure Canada stays secure and prosperous.

The report also covered cybersecurity and privacy, the economy’s move towards knowledge-based sectors, artificial intelligence, the millennial generation, encryption, quantum technologies, advanced robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology.

Blockchain has the potential to impact each of these technologies, albeit in different ways depending on the sector.

The CSIS examination of blockchain

CSIS expressed a view that, if approached correctly, blockchain could become the “plumbing” for all transaction-based systems. This would include government services, healthcare records, and real estate.

This presents a huge opportunity for blockchain, as it shows that government agencies want to engage with its underlying mechanisms. We’ve grown accustomed to companies having perspectives on the blockchain, but adding more government agencies into the mix is a strong signal.

Their view supports that of many blockchain advocates. What’s been made public of the report so far seems to show that CSIS believes blockchain is a foundational technology. In its more advanced stages, like the internet, blockchain could underpin almost every facet of society and world economies.

CSIS expects technology-minded millennials to play a key part in the upcoming social, political and technological disruption in society. Further, the agency expects that millennials could be the conductors for the next industrial revolution and a major economic boom.

 

Image credit: CSIS

 

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