At the invitation of Innotribe, the internal innovation team of international payments network manager SWIFT, we ran a special Thingclash workshop last week at Sibos, the largest annual gathering of financial services organizations. In a condensed, 45-minute taster session, Susan Cox-Smith and I introduced the concept of Thingclash, and guided a dozen teams through quick-fire rounds of scenario creation, generating some intriguing future situations where out-of-the-box IoT solutions ran up against unexpected users—in unanticipated places.
Held amidst acres of talks and sessions on global banking, emerging technology and standards in Geneva’s massive Palexpo exhibition center, Innotribe’s highly respected conference-inside-a-conference presented a unique opportunity to put Thingclash in the hands of a new audience—one that doesn’t often get a chance to explore risk and potential through these kinds of hands-on tools. We used the (frankly astounding) near-surround continuous video walls that framed the Innotribe space to quickly bring the workshop participants up to speed on the idea of Thingclash and a panoply of devices, people and places, then set to work with special edition cards and worksheets on tabletops to generate near-future use cases, identify the clashes they held, and frame initial thoughts on how to address these potential issues.
Though our participants were new to the concept, they gamely worked to create two sets of clever and interesting situations—from automatic sandwich ordering beacons authorized to pay for lunch to problems for a gig-economy worker trying to keep contactless payments straight among dozens of clients, to a self-driving car needing power of attorney to admit a passenger to hospital. Some of the ideas were humourous, some serious, but most had critical frictions in common.
Across the generated cases, issues of security, a major event theme, as well as consent, accessibility, and complexity emerged time and again. Bart Preneel, professor at KU Leuven and expert in cryptography, commented at the end of the session that, with the rapid proliferation of IoT devices, new—and most likely insecure endpoints—are being introduced to the financial system as more devices are designed to have payment authorization capability. As security expert Bruce Schneier pointed out in the session just prior to Thingclash, these vulnerabilities are already being exploited by ever proliferating botnets, creating massive risks for financial services through the rush to connect commerce and the IoT.
Though it was a quick session, we think Thingclash made an impact on the multinational group of senior-level participants. We look forward to finding other new audiences and formats to enable pre-probing of possibilities in IoT, and hopefully consideration of emergent risk and ways to design better, safer systems for all. Finally, thanks to Peter Vander Auwera, Innotribe and Sibos for inviting us and supporting the Thingclash project, and thanks to the teams from Collective Next and GPJ Productions for making the session, and the week, truly exceptional.
You can read more about Thingclash for financial services in the special edition magazine released for the event here.