As a Sociologist and Doctor in Architecture and Organisational Behaviour, she is curious and passionate about the role physical spaces play in fostering serendipitous interactions, and how to use combinations of digital technologies to understand and measure them.
Dr Lopez de Vallejo has a long and stellar career, having worked in European technology policy making, applied technology research and innovation both in the Basque Country, Spain and the UK, and has spent over a decade focused on building research and international development collaborations from the UK to the world.
She was the first woman member of the board of directors of euRobotics, the European Robotics Association. She is the co-founder of Giving Streets, a blockchain startup focused on financial inclusion, and partnerships director of OCEAN Protocol, a global initiative co-founded by DEX, which is creating a decentralized data exchange protocol that unlocks data for AI.
How do you see DLT technologies adoption such as Blockchain evolving the next 3 years?
DLT technology will overcome the hype and become the necessary background of the digital economy that we are building and is yet to come. These technologies provide a unique and much needed value: transparency in the actions taken. Together with other improvements, they imply a revolution in terms of ways of working, culture and education inside organisations, particularly in terms of digital transactions, which are still a barrier.
Fortunately, I have seen that we are testing this new reality from different tech communities. The reason for its success is the specific use for needed tasks, so we can take its value for granted. In my opinion, leaving data intermediaries out will increase confidence and lead to decentralization without one and only leading source of information. This would bring structural changes for the better, beneficial to enterprises, governments, social groups and individuals.
What it is Ocean Protocol and what enticed you to this new venture?
Ocean Protocol works through utility tokens with a unique and traceable identifier. It is a decentralised protocol, a network that provides a secure data sharing mechanism between companies and inside the same one. We provide the technology needed to make data transactions auditable, secure, and clear, contributing to the AI development out of the monopoly.
This is the reason why I joined DEX and Ocean Protocol. Currently, 99% of data is not accessible. In our case, the data owner has full control over the customizable software and their preferences during the process, which makes it a marketplace of reference. Being able to train your own algorithms implies the democratization of AI in all sectors, contributing to increase confidence in the digital economy.
What type of IoT startups might really benefit from your protocol? What about for established corporations?
Any company that requires a data strategy to maintain or has the potential to be the basis of a new business model will eventually need this. If IoT companies or any other type of business are going to develop their own data bases and keep part of this information in the devices they are going to deploy, Ocean Protocol will be useful. Information is not useful by itself; it is the way you action it that makes a difference and creates value.
In your experience working with AI, are there any downsides that potential users need to be aware of?
From my perspective, AI is already everywhere. My concern is that if we are not able to democratise the access to data, we won’t have an equitable AI, not only developed by a unique source marked by commercial interests. We will reach total success in AI when the process becomes open enough. We have to be aware of this need inside both the business and the socio-political contexts.
You were the Director of Collaborative Research and Regional and International Development of Digital Catapult on several technological fields, counting 5G among them. What is the current real sociological impact that 5G is having at the end-user level?
The impact will be particularly noticeable in remote areas, especially in aspects related to health. The ability to react to an emergency will be quicker. Following this line, industries and manufacturing facilities will also tend to grow from a digital communication perspective.
5G will also make much easier the communications when dealing with crowding situations. The same connectivity problem will be solved for the work-on-the-move, especially in the worst connected areas.
New business models that combine 5G with AR, VR and geolocation will arise. This is the Internet that is coming.
You have also been a mentor in IoT Tribe. Why?
Because I really believe in giving back to grow. What it often works is as simple or complicated as sharing your experience and ideas, apart from money or investment.
Do you meet many tech entrepreneur women in your daily life or is it still a challenge?
There are many tech women with a relevant role within the ecosystem and very interesting, technical and powerful profiles. Although statistics still show the reality, especially when asking for investment. I think we should make a greater effort in sitting at the table, literally, and saying everything that we have to say as well as claim, ask, take opportunities and support each others. This is the way to continue making integration a reality inside the business world.
Finally, what is the achievement you are most proud of?
Having my daughter. At the end of the day, you understand that you cannot separate professional and personal in your live. She was born during my PhD, working full-time. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve one thing without another, and viceversa. Becoming a mother taught me to play down and keep my feet on the ground. These are lessons that I also applied to my work life.