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Blockchain, Decentralised Knowledge and Learning (BDKL)

The focus of the Blockchain, Knowledge, and Learning group (BKL) is on decentralisation, trust, interoperability, and education, applied in a range of application and social contexts. Our work resides primarily in Language, Multimedia and Knowledge Technologies, and AI & Data Analytics, fundamentally driven by Human-Centered Computing.

To be decentralised, a system must enable individuals to interact directly with each other, with no need for a central authority or broker. Our work on the Semantic Web and Distributed Ledgers (including blockchains) addresses the resulting requirements for communication and interoperability, and trust and control, respectively. Beyond the technical benefits of decentralisation, we aim always to learn how these technologies can be applied to empower and protect individuals in a social context, from the education of secondary school children, to patients at risk of heart and kidney problems, to the data poor.

We have advanced the state of the art in the Semantic Web and Linked Data in terms of privacy, reasoning on temporal data, and provenance and integrity in federated contexts, and have contributed to the understanding of the application of Linked Data technologies in projects relating to Learning and Education, Health and Wellbeing, Environment and Sustainability, and Science and Scholarly Communication.

Distributed Ledgers and Blockchains are a new field of study. Our work in this area contributes to the application of blockchains to guarantee integrity of Web-based data and services, and to ensure that control over data and its uses remains with the owner and subject of the data rather than with untrusted third-parties. A great deal of our work in this area concerns Learning and Education – specifically, the blockchain-based verification of educational micro-accreditation – but Environment and Sustainability, and Science and Scholarly Communication are also areas we are working in. Our work also contributes to research into a number of fundamental social and political issues which arise in these areas relating to the control and ownership of data and the relationship between New Media and Society, making Citizen Empowerment, Politics and Government, Security and Policing, Forensics and Privacy, Accessibility, Inclusion, Ethics, and Social Justice and Diversity also areas of interest. For example, we are developing new methods to support trustable but privacy-preserving sharing of valuable or legally important data, with transparent processing, to provide more control and autonomy, particularly to those who are disadvantaged in current models, and we are specifically investigating how new media technologies such as the Web can support these goals.


Paul Alexander