Keynote 4 - Sean A. McKenna

Global Trade, Borders, and Technology 

Abstract: Borders demarcate boundaries between regions and serve two, often competing, goals: Facilitating the efficient trade of goods, services, and passage of individuals with minimal friction; and enforcing the policies and regulations of each region on either side of the border.  The past twenty years have seen a continued increase in global trade, excepting the 2007-09 recession, and this increase has progressed through the development of policies that are increasingly favorable to cross-border trade.  More recent political changes are modifying policies and challenging the minimal friction of globalization and existing border functions.  Here, these challenges and the opportunities for technology to mitigate them are examined.  Examples include the extension of distributed ledger technologies beyond application to digital assets to provide identifiability and security of physical assets during trans-shipment.  Furthermore, AI techniques and low-cost imaging can be combined with distributed ledgers to distinguish the true physical assets from counterfeit goods along the segments of a supply chain.  Other examples examine the role of machine learning and knowledge graphs in understanding human migration.


Sean A. McKenna is a Senior Research Manager at IBM Research in Dublin, Ireland.  Dr. McKenna has 25 years of experience in developing science-focused engineering solutions for complex problems.  He leads a group of scientists and engineers in research and technology that expands Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities through AI and Blockchain.  Application areas include infrastructure systems, manufacturing and natural resource management.  Prior to joining IBM in 2012, he was a Senior Scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.  He has previously been an adjunct/visiting professor at New Mexico Tech, the National University of Singapore and the University of Texas.  Dr. McKenna is a member of IBM’s Industry Academy and served as the 2016 Distinguished Lecturer for the International Assoc. of Mathematical Geosciences.


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24 - 26 June 2024
Lucerne, Switzerland

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