Welcome Address – Carlos Moedas

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.


From the Internet of Things to the Internet of Humans
Mr. Bonvicini, Mr. Giscard d’Estaing, MEP Buzek, MEP Lamassoure, Mr. Madelin,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon!
First, I want to thank Baracchi Bonvicini for inviting me here today. I want also to acknowledge and thank the presence of President Giscard D’Estaing a man who is an inspiration for us all.
Steve Case, says that we are just at the beginning of the third wave of the internet.
In the first, we built the infrastructure of the internet.
In the second wave, we built the apps on top of that infrastructure.
And now we’re just at the tipping point of a new wave. We’re at a point where we will merge the digital and the physical world. Where the internet won’t just be a tool. It’s becoming a part of our daily lives as never before. The internet is entering the highly regulated areas like health, education, energy, food, water or manufacturing.       
This is where we are. And it’s going to have such a huge effect on our lives.

  • It will change the way we work
  • And it will change the way govern
  • It will fundamentally change the way we think

First, look at work. Take the health sector. When you compare deep learning with the best specialists in radiology, deep learning comes out on top. There was a study on this in 2015 in the US by a company called Enlitic. Radiologists failed to detect 7% of cancers. The deep learning algorithm missed 0%.
That means that in the health sector the future of work will be very different.
I asked my radiologist if he was afraid of it and he said: Not at all. It will give me time to look more holistically into the patients instead of doing the repetitive task of looking into a scanner.
But it’s not just health.
This will change professions at their core. People used to know things by heart. They were trained to mechanically repeat tasks. These will be gone. Repetitive tasks will be done by machines. What happens then?
The doctor will have more time to focus on the patient.
The engineer and the architect will have more time to be creative.
The Lawyer will have more time to explore its profession in innovative ways.
And the Entrepreneur will have more time to have ideas.
Second, it will change how we govern.
Now Parliaments legislative process takes up to five years. But technology is moving much faster than that. Legislation can’t keep up. After five years we are legislating for products that don’t exist. Or for things that are completely different by then. So it will have to change. And that means our governance will have to change. Stakeholders will have to play a bigger role. Governments will need to legislate with everyone around the table. So that the result is truly user driven and user centric. And that’s something we don’t always do today.
What do these changes mean? If the internet is becoming part of our lives we cannot be as passive as we were. This means that we’re going to have to make political choices in the third wave.
Look at Artificial Intelligence. What do we want it to be?

  • Do we want it to replace us as human beings?
  • Do we want it to improve our intelligence?
  • Do we want it to make us better as a people?

One thing is for certain: governments need to make this decision very quickly.
I want two things from this third wave:
First, I want the internet to help make me smarter. But not replace me.
If we do this, we can build a better future. It means less time doing boring repetitive tasks. Think of how many people are overqualified for their jobs. It means people will be more engaged in what they are doing. And more jobs based on our real skillset.
This is a huge change for our future. But I see it as a positive change.
Second, I want the internet to help give us purpose.
Mark Zuckerberg talked about this in a recent speech. He was referring to a well-known story about John F Kennedy. The President visited NASA space centre and saw a janitor carrying a broom. He walked over and asked what he was doing. And the janitor responded:

Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.

 That’s the kind of purpose I’m referring to. That sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
We have so much access to technology. Digital everything is such a big part of our lives. And we’re constantly connected. But there’s still a void. Because we see the internet as a tool. As a resource. 
But the internet will completely permeate our lives in the third wave. So, it cannot remain just a practical tool. It will be part of us. So, this is where we go from the internet of things to the internet of intelligent things. 
I think it’s up to this generation to use the internet to create purpose. To connect everyone and use this global network to solve the biggest challenges we’re facing.
We will create purpose if we connect people to solve climate change. If get all the data together and cure cancer. If you reduce inequality.
We’re at a crucial moment. The third wave of the internet is where we choose. The internet of humans is not the world of tomorrow. We’re already on the edge of this new phase of the internet. It’s already here. Whether we are ready or not. 
Let me finish with the words of Mark Zuckerberg:
Every generation has its defining works. More than 300,000 people worked to put a man on the moon – including that janitor. Millions of volunteers immunized children around the world against polio.
These projects didn’t just provide purpose for the people doing those jobs, they gave our whole country a sense of pride that we could do great things.

Day 1