Wrap up by Thomas Schneider – 2023

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21 June 2023 | 14:30 - 15:30 EEST | Main auditorium | Video recording | Transcript
Consolidated programme 2023 overview / Wrap up by Thomas Schneider

Wrap up 2023

  • Thomas Schneider, President EuroDIG SA, Swiss Government, Ambassador, Chair of the Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI)

Video record



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>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: I take this one, yes, it is already on. Hello, everybody. I will not be long, you will get the messages, the summary of the messages and be able to look at them, discuss them, very soon.

I just would like to say that having been in this since the beginning of EuroDIG, I think we are at a different point than where we were 15 years ago, we were all very optimistic that technology, social media would help to Democratize our countries, would offer new opportunities, we may have some challenges but we’ll solve them. There was a different tone then, and now when we see how we’re discussing now, I think the tone has changed. That’s obviously clearly not because of the tools themselves but the world has changed in which we live. We have gone through the pandemic that had – that was challenging and showed opportunities on how we can use technology, and now we’re in a situation wherein this continent there is war going on, which is something that none of us has really thought this would happen until recently, and we need to readjust the number of things and that, of course, has an impact on the discussion on how to use technology.

The key things that we were discussing were, of course, shifting the focus a little bit to being more worried about fragmentation, not just for our societies and for our continent, but also on the digital world, what does this mean, what do these geopolitical – increasing political tensions mean to things that we have gotten used to, as global actors being globally connected, also with this, of course, issues of cybersecurity have become a new dimension because, yeah, the actors are out there that have an even greater interest to weaken our societies, our infrastructures, our economies and also our democracies through interfering by digital means into our societies, be it with this information, but also be it with trying to basically block or paralyze infrastructures.

So far we have been quite good in defending the functioning of this, but you never know how this is going to continue and of course the concerns are legitimate.

Then, of course, there are new technologies that are issues, new issues that we discuss, not for the first time, talking about AI, of course, that’s been an issue for quite some time, but in the past few months and maybe year it has become clear not only those that are working very closely with the technologies, but it has become clear to everybody through the media, through the hype around some of the applications that this is something that offers enormous opportunities, but also raises challenges and also there the discussion has been a little bit more on the challenges then on the opportunities, which is understandable, of course, because there are things we need to overcome, but I think we should not forget also that these technologies, if the incentives are set to use them for the good, for the bad, offering enormous opportunities for us and I think we will have to and will be able to deal with these technologies like – and systems like what we have learned with other invention, what is clear though, of course, they will transform daily lives in a way that is fundamental probably comparable to the invention of engines that were using fuels, many people compare data, call data the new oil, so we can also call AI systems the new engines, and that will transform the automization of things that used to be done by people in the first revolution that were replaced, mechanic works that were replaced by machines, now it is cognitive works that are replaced by machines, at least to some extent and we’re probably still in the beginning. That will transform our societies, raising a lot of question, but if we manage this right, I think it will help us also to solve a few problems that we’re struggling with. Of course, this is something that has been in the centre here.

Linked to AI, data, of course, it is the platformization, that’s one key driver of this changes, and also offering great opportunities because it has never been as efficient as today to match personal demands with an individualized, personalized offer which economically, of course, is an unbeatable progress. At the same time, it offers questions with who controls a society, how does this effect democratic processes, our economies from the media system to any other system, health, education, so on, and we have seen quite a number of specific workshops and sessions on, for instance, the use of AI with education, children, how this transforms not only the educational system itself but also the role of the teachers, the demands on parents, so on, so forth. I think we had lots of good debates that are an inspiration on finding a way on how to deal with these things again setting the right incentives and we even had interplanetary discussions, which is something, of course, that’s still a little bit forward looking, but we’ll see.

And in the end, I think it is clear that, yeah, we’ll have to face challenges, we’ll have to find solutions, let’s all hope and work together that the geopolitical situation improves, with this unbelievable tragedy with this war ends and then so that we can concentrate on successfully facing the challenges of the digital revolution and I think it is also good, and we have witnessed it is good to have young people as a very vocal part of EuroDIG, in the end, they’re the ones that should also and will come up with new ideas, with questioning those that are taking decisions now, new ways of doing things, this is the way it should, we’re very happy to have youth that vocal in this EuroDIG. That was really an enrichment. Also we have heard about some Finnish, Nordic ideas, solutions, way to deal with things that may not be known, even elsewhere in Europe so that was another inspiration.