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Internet pioneer in Edinburgh

Berners-Lee hopes for return of web’s ‘collaborative spirit’

Pioneer: Sir Tim Berners-Lee pictured on a big screen. Photography was not allowed in the conference hall


Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, said he wants to see the return of a “collaborative spirit” on the internet in which individuals have more control over their own data.

Addressing a conference in Edinburgh he said big companies such as Facebook and Google were creating their own “silos” and building more information on individuals they can influence, he said.

“There is a lot of stuff we need to fix out there,” he told the Disrupt 2.0 conference held at the RBS headquarters in Edinburgh.

He said that he wanted everyone to think about the personal data that exists online and who owns it. “Imagine that will increase by tenfold over the next two years. Imagine being in control of that.”

He noted that Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter were now working together to allow for data to be transferred between platforms. He said it was “like open banking for social networks”.

Sir Tim was named one of TIME magazine’s ‘100 Most Important People of the 20th Century,’ one of the UK’s ‘100 Greatest Britons,’ and one of the world’s ‘Most Influential Thinkers,’

His work has transformed every aspect of our lives and has previously said the creation of a new legal or regulatory framework for the web may help better balance social objectives with business interests.

The event explored the theme of how technological innovation can be harnessed to address social needs, such as humanising the next generation of AI technology; using blockchain to help refugees; or cognitive neuroscience to optimise students’ welfare.

Simon McNamara, chief administrative officer at RBS, said: “Whether it is humanising the next generation of Artificial Intelligence technology, utilising blockchain to help refugees, or using cognitive neuroscience to optimise students’ welfare – innovation has the power to change the world for us all.”

SPEAKERS at the event:


Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web

Dr. Vivienne Ming, Cognitive Neuroscience, Singularity University

Andrew Fursman Co-Founder & CEO, 1Qbit

Greg Cross, Chief Business Officer, Soul Machines

Jennifer Zhu Scott, Founding Principal, Radian Partners

Joseph Thompson Co-Founder & CEO, AID:Tech

Professor Janice Kirkpatrick OBE, Co-founder & Creative Director, Graven

Divya Chander, Neuroscience, Medicine, Singularity University

Simon McNamara, CAO of RBS

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