Plenary Session – Introduction

Robert Madelin

Ladies and gentlemen the goal in the coming session is first to get the report back to the group of each of the plenaries. And I want to open the floor straight away, so those of you at the back of the church can come and take a seat – I want to open the floor straight away to Nils Torvalds because Nils has to leave us in about 12 minutes because this is an important group meeting day in the European parliament so Nils, I would be very grateful to hear your summary first and then we will make sure that people don’t disagree with you and then we’ll let you go. Nils.


Parallel Working Sessions: outcomes – Nils Torvalds

Nils Torvalds, Member of the European Parliament from Finland.


Thank you. There was an enormously interesting discussion we had it went mildly speaking all over the place but I think we have some general themes and themes that were in one way or another shared by all those who participated in the discussion. Then it went the way it usually goes we could have probably been going on with the discussion with two more hours but we had to cut short for very practical reasons.
Due to the fact that we are celebrating – or not celebrating – the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I would like to start with going back to Martin Luther, which is of course something very Finnish to do. What Martin Luther said in Borms, was that if you can prove to me on the basis of the Scripture and on the basis of common sense that I am wrong, then I give in.
I think this is revolutionary in many ways because he actually said that – in my world view, I am the master. And that is the beginning of modernity in a way. And after that we have – for the following 500 years we have run into different problems, connected with “I am the master of my worldview” and therefore we have some central key-words:
Transparency. Without transparency, without being able to look through what people are telling, we won’t understand why they are doing that, why they are trying to sell us some thought. And transparency makes it possible for us to believe what I think is in philosophical terms, that the person is telling the truth. And how this information can be used for my good or for our common good. In a much more complicated word this requires skills.
Possibilities to understand and read the message. And if you don’t understand if you are not able to read the message if our literacy rate is low then we won’t be able to distinguish between fake news, hate-speech or profiling.
What we are going to need is more knowledge and more knowledge is going to be more and more painful for each and every one of us, because the technologies are evolving all the time. I think one of the nicest phrases put forward during the discussion was the description of the internet some twenty years ago, when we understood that the Internet is going to open up for a government which is more distributed and more open.
And all of a sudden after 20 years is that “Oh, it didn’t really come out the way we thought it would”. In a way, we are – I think there is a Jewish sociologist —– who spoke about axial ages. And I think we are experiencing something very axial at the moment and I’ve said, because I like puns, some of the puns are bad, this new axial age is trumpeted in by the first Trump-eater of the world today, Donald T.
One other current in our discussion was narratives, that was for me – I remember back in the 1980s when post-modernism was on everybody’s lips. Narratives were dead. Narratives were Nil. Narratives were something we actually should abandon as soon as possible. All of a sudden in some other speeches they stress the necessity of narratives – why? Because there is a need for a coherence. For us to be able to believe what is said or written there is a system of coherence, and this system of coherence makes it or creates the ability for us to understand if something is actually genuine or not.
Coherent narratives – although life in which we are living is something very, very central and very interesting and at the same time we are running into this wall which is sometimes back I’ve jumped into a book called the cultural lag – we are almost lagging behind. There are narratives out there – we are slightly lagging behind the narratives and we aren’t always distinguish if these narratives are true if they are genuine. If they are coherent. But without those narratives I think we are totally lost and this was pointed out by two persons in the panel – in this endeavour to understand whats going on in the world art is of special value.
Just now and that is total coincidence – I am trying to read through 1350 pages of German literary history from 1918 to 1933 – where the go through in which way the narratives actually changes three times during those years. So, change wasn’t something new which we ran into something we ran into the day before yesterday.
Our ability to understand how things are going to change and how we are changing at the same time is probably one of the challenges we have and here the role of the civil society and the public sector is of upmost importance – because without a functioning civil society and one thing which we are challenging in this very house is that we have civil societies and we have virtual civil societies – and they are perfectly different things.
It’s very easy to be a part of a virtual civil society but there is no coherence no guarantee of coherence, there is no way of knowing if we are reading or we are getting something which is truthful and the more the civil society is going to get ripped to pieces by the technological development, the more we are left on the back burner and the bigger are the challenges we are facing.
So, just to stop short I think the discussion was immensely interesting and I think we actually covered the most fundamental challenges we have in front of us and I felt so uplifted by this discussion – I think that’s also biblical, because even though it was a very critical discussion – at the same time it has actually opened up a small glimmer of hope that we are able to understand, we are able to cope – together – we are able to create technologies and one of the most interesting points in these technology discussions was the Blockchain so the blockchain system of validating the information in the infrastructure in which we are living because then we can identify from where the information comes, who has said it and we are not living in the somewhat disruptive world of Twitters from the president of the United States. That’s I think is all for today from my part, thank you.

Parallel Working Sessions: outcomes – Luciano Floridi

Luciano Floridi, OII Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford and Faculty Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute (ATI).


Thank you and now that I know what I’m going to say will be double-checked afterwards I’m a bit more worried because I had to put together a rather complicated – the word complex is overused – conversation twice in a single narrative.
For those of you who were with me, forgive me for what I’ve misunderstood / forgotten/ misinterpreted. We could start from this mixing up and I try to help our imagination by using the following analogy: we live in a mangrove society. Mangroves grow where Sweetwater meets the salty water, where the river meets the sea. Asking: where do the mangroves grow? Is the water salty? Is it sweet? Do we live in a digital world? Do we live in an analogue world? Asking that means, as my students would say: “you must be from the nineties”.
It means not knowing, not having understood where we are which is intrinsically mixed environment where the analogue and the digital lives in a cycle of mutual interactions. More and more. It doesn’t mean that a lot of people live entirely on the digital side or entirely on the analogue side. But most of us and increasingly number of us, live in this special sort of world.
In this world navigation is difficult and the second reference I would like to suggest is actually back to Plato. As I obviously can’t resist: the pilot of the ship – kybernetes – from which cybernetics comes – is the person who knows how to navigate difficult waters with undercurrents, perhaps sometimes against the winds and may actually take strange directions to get where he normally he but sometimes she wants to go. And if you know how to sail a little bit – not that I know much about it – sometimes you have to go almost opposite to where you aim to end up.
So that cybernetic ability to have a direction with full sight – because you need to know where you would like to end up – and control – Which was another big thing in the panels. Those are the virtues of the cybernetic Politics (capital P) that we would like to see implemented. Especially because the waters are perilous, especially because the winds are fast.
In other words, precisely because change is happening so quickly. At that point, another reference might come handy. Sometimes the best way of moving fast is to move slowly – Festina lente – as they would say in my hometown.
The idea is that you can go very quickly – slowly. Because the idea here is to think before acting. And there was one of the things that emerged. Think – about what?
Well I have here a list of sort of highlights and I am sure I am missing some but the fundamental point was that we need not better but just understanding. It implies that you have some understanding and that you can improve on it.
At the moment, I think lack of some real, true understanding of just what is going on in our society.
The impact of personal identity, how we behave in this new environment and more needs to be done in that context.
A clear understanding of how values are changing – because no matter what we are told – at the end of the day, if there’s a social backlash against the policy, against the particular product launched by a company, the policy or the product will not succeed. I know it is for the down the road and sometimes we forget that it takes three, four, five steps to get there, but the idea is: if this is not properly designed it will not fly – using a different metaphor.
Well how do we make sure the right design is there? We need new models for benefit sharing – something we haven’t seen much recently – we need new models to incentivize the right kind of socially valuable services products, new environments, at the end of the day we might actually need new meta-technologies.
Technologies to help us to handle technologies. Because complexity, in the technical sense, in the computational sense of complexity, is just going to increase. And we do have a trick to deal with increasingly complex things – we develop more complexity to deal with complexity. It can be a successful story.
In terms of story – I know that my time is coming to an end, so I’m slowly moving towards the second half of my summary. In terms of story there is a tendency that we had for a moment during the workshops to either going for done it before seen it before, come on – nothing new.
Or, It’s a revolution! Nothing ever compares! Of course, people with grey hair don’t get bold and they start aiming for the boring middle ground. The grey area. A bit of new, a bit of old.
But what’s the difference here? What we need to write is, essentially, the second chapter of our interaction with digital technologies. It doesn’t mean that we need to drop consent. Of course, consent, when it comes to personal data is still a keystone of our building, but it does mean that we need to move forward. You don’t write the second chapter by erasing the first chapter. But you don’t write the second chapter by making a photo-copy of the first one either.
And it’s that interaction in terms of learning lessons and moving forward that some of the tricks here need to be played. Whereabouts exactly? We covered a few key areas: you may expect the usual suspects and they were there. Health, economy, education and more broadly business and technological innovation. In each case I think we could be a little bit more daring and if I may refer back to something that Robert himself said today: we could try to experiment a little bit more.
But you experiment in safety – remember Festina lente. Where you have rules for the game that tell you yeah you can do that, with safeguards. Just give it a try. We need to do that a little bit more carefully.
Final point: there is something at the same time interesting and disturbing when it comes to the new technology – as in, new from a philosophical perspective – not as in from last year. That we have developed.
Think of back to the salty and sweet waters. If you remove salt, what remains? It’s not salty. There’s just no salt. If you remove sugar from a cake, it’s not sweet – there’s just no taste of sugar.
But if you remove information, that is informative. If you remove politics – that is political. So, the technologies that we are developing are, to be less obscure, self-refresh.
We have technologies that work with themselves about themselves increasingly in an autonomous way. We can be the Khyberneter, mastering the whole system. Or we can just step out and think: “well, fingers crossed, hopefully everything will go fine.”
Part of the discussion was during the two workshops was precisely to say: “no, we can be playing the controlling or sort of directing role here, while we see these technologies working with themselves, about themselves among themselves.
I don’t need to remind this audience that the greatest vast majority of data we have today are machine generated they are not about our own conversations.

So, the conclusion is that we are missing a lot of things but there is a lot of enthusiasm and brainpower to deal with these missing bits.
And I would like to end with this particular challenge that remains with me. That was my own personal feeling that I have had at the end of the two workshops. We have been in vaguely comparable circumstances not such a long time ago.
The environmental crisis, in that context – fast technologies, ethics and values and policies had to catch up – we ended up having not a solution but having a direction: sustainability.
And here is the challenge I would like to leave to this audience, and if you have an answer, please let me know. The biosphere is related to sustainability as the info sphere is related to…what? We need to work on that.
What? If have that what, we will have a direction towards which our policies can move.
Thank you.

Parallel Working Sessions: outcomes – Guido Romeo

Next Generation Internet Summit, 7 June 2017 – Plenary Session – Guido Romeo.


Thank you, Robert.
Joachim unfortunately has some issues with his family. His son is in the hospital, so he excused himself and we wish him and his son the very best. 

In the first session, the one on disruption of the economy – I can sum it up basically in two words: cautious and optimistic. I will elaborate a bit more on that. 

We tackled three lines there, in both sessions, the first one is disruption of the economy, of the current models and of the workplace, of employment of course – that stems from all the work from Frey and Osbourne. 

The second one is skills and the third one is regulation. Which is something that is very close to the heart of all the speakers and to all in the room, because that is a space for politics and of course, being at the European Parliament, it was a very hot topic. 
And there were very diverse approaches to this. 

A fourth, an extra one I would say would be attitude. 
It’s more of an emotional, social topic but I believe it is crucial, it echoes a bit with what Luciano was saying on being a bit more daring and experimentation in Europe.

So, on the first one on disruption. There is no question, I think we had a consensus there, there will be disruption. We are seeing it already, there is a study that is coming out in the next couple of weeks, comparing the performance of small and medium companies in Catalunya, Ronalpen, Lombardy and the ones in Germany.
And it shows that companies that innovate, that are internationalized, go through efficient digital transformations, can perform in terms of productivity at 200% better than the ones which don’t. It is clear that some companies and workers will be driven out of the market and some will excel and will profit greatly from this transformation.
That said the figures pulled by the future of employment by Fray and Osborn – by the way it’s not a peer-reviewed paper I’ve learned so we should be extremely cautious about how we handle those forecasts. The idea of having a 50% of workers outside of the job market, those jobs being disrupted, is not that clear.
In fact, it could be much less. But I think the takeaway point is not about how many jobs are distracted it’s about the difference between the jobs that they are distracted and the jobs that are created. If the bottom figure is positive, we can actually gain.

So, that brings us to the skills. Skills again is something that needs to be tickled on two levels because their existing level, that need to be recalled if I’d they have to learn, new skills to adapt. But they’re also the ones that will become workers in the NGI world. 
And we were talking about our millennials who, as we told yesterday don’t see much engaged in the conversation but need to learn a bit more critical thinking, they need to be engaged in this conversation. And in this perspective, one of our speakers, actually more than one of our speakers, stressed the importance of developing critical skills and not simply coding skills. 

Last but not least, the regulatory approach, this is an extremely sensitive topic of course, I will use the words of Kaja Kallas who rightly said: “we tend to overreact in the short-term, and overestimate in the long-term.” We should adopt a long-term view and try to develop regulation that is made not for the actual incumbent, but that is geared toward having innovation in Europe, having new players emerge in Europe. 
The take away commitments I asked – I tricked my panellists into trying to say – what they would like Europe to do in the next 12 months, and the overarching commitment there asked was expansion of broadband and commitment to openness.
And that is openness of public records, but also openness of innovation and of innovative business models.
And again, no reinventing of the bicycle: so, shape the new rules thinking long-term and cultivate diversity and optimism. 
That’s one of the most societal bridge challenges, but I guess one of the most important ones.

Final remarks – Mariete Schaake

Mariete Schaake, Member of the European Parliament from the Netherlands.


Thank you so much.
Only listening to the conclusions, I feel like I’ve definitely missed the best part. By only being able to make it to these concluding thoughts. I’m sorry and I already look forward to the papers.
I think the initiative in including so many people in the discussion in out of the box thinking and seeking inspiration and encouraging policymakers as one of the last speakers said, to cultivate optimism is – very needed in these times where perhaps we tend to stand with our backs towards each other more than facing each other and we tend to see a lot of mistrust and concern rather than building trust and solutions. I’m very optimistic about that.
I was actually going to just say a few thoughts on the research, but also, I’m happy to try make predictions about the Next Generation internet. But what I think we could do now and hopefully will also feed into your papers is try to bridge the gap between research that you have done as well as large numbers and then try to find the link towards policymaking. Because I think the risk is that that these words are too far apart and in order to find concrete recommendation of policymakers not only the ones who are looking at technology and the internet specifically can work with could be very valuable.
For the next steps of your research, I also believe that we would we would benefit in seeking more proactive inclusiveness and proportional representation because I saw there was really a quite strong element of self-selection in the respondents and this could risk exacerbating existing views instead of bringing on board those that may be excluded by policies if they can’t make their voices heard.
Some of it reminded me of the whole multi stakeholder discussion that we often have about internet governance where sometimes that multi-stakeholder-ism risks becoming sort of an answer in and of itself without taking into consideration that one stakeholder may carry much larger responsibility, may represent many more people than the one individual who also of course has a perfectly legitimate right to raise their voice about the future of the open internet.
Perhaps this is more of a recommendation or an observation about the broader survey that many of the organization work together on.
What I found very encouraging and also recognize, was that so many respondents were focusing on the values needing to be at the heart of where the future internet goes I believe the public interest should always be at the core of what we are doing here at the European Parliament.
The risk is of course that this is not always the case, that the big corporate players or the large incumbents – this could also be member states are much more heard, that it’s much easier to for example say no two policy changes, rather than paving the way forward and looking at how the future should be shaped by policies that Safeguard the public interest despite the rapidly changing Technologies. If we indeed want to put the values at the heart of the decisions that we make towards the Next Generation internet or keeping the internet open, preserving the public interest at all, then I think we have to be very careful with “do something” polices.  
This is particularly important when it comes to National Security responses, where more and more often knee-jerk responses seek to implicate Technologies social media encryption, etc. in order to tackle terrorism for example, where perhaps as a result our cyber security is weaker and we are actually not much further towards a real solution at all. 
I think the same could be said for a trend that I see which is a push from policymakers – I see this from the European commission side often times – to push responsibilities on to the shoulders of big corporations and a real risk of a trend towards privatized law enforcement. Anywhere from tackling fake news, intellectual property rights infringements, in countering radicalization Etc.
This trend can be observed. And this can be in a real tension with this notion of safeguarding the public interest that so many of the public respondents spoke about.
There is a fundamental difference between what the rule of law prescribes or what is illegal content, versus what is undesirable content. We have plenty of examples of where large tech companies like Facebook for example believe something is undesirable which we here believe it is perfectly legal.
And so how to make sure that the rule of law and fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms remain leading in an increasingly connected world, where questions of jurisdiction complicate things and private companies are increasingly the norm setters of the digital environment. I believe it is a clear task for all of us.
This is complicated more by algorithms making decisions and companies admitting themselves that sometimes they themselves don’t know anymore where the head and the tales of the algorithms actually are. In other words, whether the algorithm is doing what it was actually intended to do and where the public oversight is remains probably one of the main challenges of our time.
If we don’t tackle that it’s hard to imagine how the Next Generation internet and Technology could become more considerate where it comes to the public interest. I think we have many present-day challenges to tackle that are key for what the future internet will look like.
Maybe a few more remarks but then I will be happy to just thank you all for your work. There is sometimes a tendency – and I don’t know if that came up in many of your discussions – but to think that we need to do many more new policies that we have to invent and write new laws – whereas I think it is a challenge enough to make sure that principles that are not contested such as free competition, access to information, non-discrimination, free expression – to make sure that they are upheld even in times of rapidly changing Technologies is a challenge enough without adding all kinds of new laws.
My preference is to build principles more so than to try to develop new laws for every new technology. I think we are better and more future-proof if we can make these principles rights freedoms essential Anchor Point from which we try to make sure that we reach also to new areas if new technologies so demand. There was a lot of hope that respondents to the survey also put in using decentralized technologies.
I saw an interesting observation about the distributed Ledger Technologies and I think that there’s often a lot of Hope when it comes to new technologies such as the block chain, that reminds me of how the expectations were with the open internet in and of itself a couple of decades ago. And although I am generally an optimist and I think there are opportunities everywhere, especially in technological developments, I think we risk underestimating the importance of governance. Linking back to the whole question about which stakeholder has which task, the question of safeguarding the public interest, the question of how to bake values into the systems that Engineers are making, I think there could be merit in Bridging the worlds of Technological design and development and of governance.
To make sure that we don’t just see extensions of governance models, so for example authoritarian governments using Technologies to increase their top down power, rather than putting the public interest first and considering how the design of the system actually has governance decisions in it oftentimes. If these are not well thought through, if systems are only designed for optimization, maximum profit, fastest result – then I believe that the very values that so many of the respondents talked about and I know we’re also the topics of some of the working sessions risk being blurred out and Fading Into the background. Away from oversight and scrutiny whether it’s democratic or judicial.
These are just a few remarks that came to my mind when I was looking at the work that you have done. Again, I’m sorry that I was not able to participate in all the working sessions but I do look forward to receiving the papers and seeing what these discussions will feed in for next year and for us as policymakers as advice in how we can use research to make more bottom up informed decisions. Thank you.

Final remarks – Jose Manuel Alonso

Jose Manuel Alonso, Director of Digital Citizenship at the Web Foundation.


Thank you very much Robert and the organization for inviting me. 
And thanks to the brave people that are staying until the end of the conference. I have been attending most of the time the sessions on social media and democracy because that relates more to the work that we do at the web Foundation and my program at the foundation called digital citizenship.  
I took some notes and reflected on the report and the discussions and the work that we do. There was this Main theme of the conference off the advent of the online and offline world’s that are blurring and what is the kind of world that do we want? That is my question. 
Technology, as we heard many times during these two days has the ability to revolutionize our society. It can flatten hierarchies, it can open up opportunities and it can change our dynamics. But the benefits of technology or not automatic. 
Right now, the web reflects the world that we have, but not the world that we want. It’s predominantly white, well educated, affluent men who are creating the most benefit from technology and the web. Instead of levelling the playing field the Haves are becoming the Have-mores and I will explain this. 
First the traditionally privileged groups or more likely to be online. In the EU, countries like Sweden and Denmark enjoy internet penetration rates of 95% or higher.  But in other countries such as Bulgaria or Romania, one third of the population or even a little bit more is still offline.
At the Web Foundation, we have a report that we typically release every year that is called the Affordability Drivers Index. We studied everywhere, it was well beyond the European Union. It was specifically on lower-middle-income countries across Asia, Africa, Latin America. And what we found out is that you are more likely to be online if you live in a city, are young and male. This leaves rural areas, rural residents, women and older age groups behind in the new economy.
Last year, for example, the sustainable development goals set a target of Universal internet access by 2020 but at the current trend that we are observing we will miss this target by more than two decades. That is one of the issues that I have spoken on, in the discussions.
The other one related to this, is that the usual suspect are benefiting from job creation in new tech industries.  There was quite some talk about this one. 
For example, we have an office in London. A recent survey in London for office start-ups told that almost 80% of the founders are white men. Census data only saw that 45% of London residents identify as white British. This is an improvement on a similar survey in other countries like the U.S. where up to 95% of the respondents were identified as white. But there is clearly a lot of work to be done to get all the groups into the mainstream.
For example, the other figures that we collected – venture capitalists in the U.S. alone invested 1.4 billion in female lead companies compared to 58.2 billion in male led companies. So, there is an important gender gap there. The digital inequality gap starts early on in the young age. And the effects are compounded throughout their lives.
Schools in wealthy districts and countries are more likely to have computer science courses. Are more likely to offer the latest technology and digital skills to their students, and are more likely to push their students towards careers in technology.
That’s another thing that we have to keep in mind. I mean we have to understand what the root cause of the problem is. Instead of using technology to close the gender gap, we are at the risk of entrenching it. 
For example, we have an initiative across the whole of the foundation that is called the Women’s Rights Online. Where we study 10 emerging cities all over the world where we found out that women were up to fifty percent less likely to be online than men. Less likely to speak out online. Less likely to use the web to look for a job. If you look at this conference for example, and it’s very, very usual at conferences unfortunately, barely a third of the speakers where women. Gender equality was only mentioned – that I could find, and apologies if I’m mistaken – in one sentence in the 45-page background report.
There is no dedicated mention and I would really suggest that this is taken into consideration on others, to erase the gender gap in STEM education and skills. On the number of women in the STEM careers, that’s very important in my opinion.  
Looking at some of these trends is sobering but some sections in the same country, maybe you see self-driving cars while they’re Compatriots are not even online yet. As jobs are automated, and we had some discussions about that, the new digital Industries become the leading sources of employment, women around the world may fall further behind instead of charging ahead – if we don’t address this disparity now. So how do we change this? Because it’s notable about the problem I can also offer some solutions. In my opinion to build the world we want, we must build the web we want.
This is what we do at the Web Foundation. I don’t remember if any of you were watching the opening ceremony of the London Olympics a few years ago. There was this weird guy in the middle of the stadium that popped up from inside a house with a strange black computer. That was our founder Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee. He sent a message to everyone where he said: “this is for everyone” with “this” referring to the world of the web and the internet.
We strongly believe in this.
All of our strategy is directed towards achieving what we call digital equality. A world where everyone has the same rights and opportunities as the ideal future we are fighting for. We want a web where citizens are included in government planning for the digital future. It is very exciting to see exercises like these including the survey, where there is a direct consultation with the citizens. We have to be careful and we mentioned this many times over the two days about the echo chambers in numerous places, numerous discussions that I heard in different sessions. And these are still happening in the offline world.
I can tell you a personal experience of mine at the European Commission I used to be part of the expert groups on electronic government not many years ago. And I remember when we were discussing the Horizon 2020 what were the main themes, topics that should be funded.  I remember there was a lady from a government representative from a European country that was telling me: “look I was yesterday working on my email and then I have a grandson, a teenager,  that was looking over my shoulder and he was telling me : “what are you using there?  Oh, I see is that the thing for grannies?””. This guy didn’t know how to use it. Was not interested in how to use it, because he was a millennial he was a digital native. He had no interest in that.
These are the people that we refer to a number of times in this conference but are not in the room, are typically not a part of the discussions so it’s good that we have surveys on which we can curate people directly but we have to make an extra effort in my opinion, because these are the people that will join the Parliament in the future will join the government in the future etc. and will run the world in the end.
We have to be careful also about other things and Mariete mentioned this very recently. That institutions that may arrive at the decisions have to be accountable, transparent and algorithms should be unbiased. Citizens have to take part, control of their personal data, and they have the right to know how it is used. It’s something that is very difficult to address, I know, but it’s something that we need to fight strongly for.
The GDPR is a good start in this direction in my opinion, but we need to understand what factors are taken into consideration when we are considered for loans, jobs, universities and other things in life. I think that we need the right to question the decisions made by those machines, to be frank.
I think it would be unfair otherwise and we all need to work together because what I learned recently at the conference here in Brussels a month ago or so we told that digital rights experts is that we have yet to properly define the problems. It’s very difficult to say: “okay this is the solution that I have today”, because we don’t know exactly how the problem looks like.
There was some discussion over the last two days about the need for more research and I totally support that, I think we need to better understand these things before trying to propose good solutions to them.
As I mentioned before we want a web in which women and men benefit equally, I have mentioned a number of times that already. I think that also I might have mentioned this a web on which everyone can freely Express their views without fear of censorship or unwarranted public surveillance. 
We’ve seen very concerning moves, for example the recent Investigatory Powers Act in the UK. That has a chilling effect on Free Speech in our opinion and that there are measures that to us they look like are only surpassed by undemocratic regimes, to be frank. We have to keep on fighting for that freedom of expression online. We must also be careful of turning some of the platforms the Facebooks in Google’s of this world, as the Arbiters of Truth and makers of decisions on our behalf.
Finally, there is something that has been mentioned a number of times, in relation to all these new areas of work. All these new technologies, which is the fake news. This is a point of reflection in my opinion for all of us. What are we doing? What is our own behaviour in this new world of data advancements?
Sometimes people are worried about fake news or about what is called alternative facts. Is this something that really exists or are we talking about pure damn lies? For example, one of the issues that we have nowadays is that it’s very difficult to distinguish what is true and what is not. Given the mountain of information and given how good some of the bad guys are behaving and faking some of the real actions a lot of the real things by themselves.
One of the issues that we have is that we cannot go back in time and say when I was really young, when I was ten years old my dad typically –  I am Spanish I still live in Spain –  we didn’t have so many newspapers but my dad typically on a Sunday was buying the five main newspapers in the country, laying them out on the kitchen table for me and looking at the same news items on every single newspaper to see how they were reporting on a particular news item. You could spot the different views of the different newspapers, how on different occasions, how related to their political orientation or their independence or what not.
Nowadays, very difficult to do that online. Please keep that in mind. I mean, are we ourselves contributing to that? Are we re-tweeting links that we don’t even read or open for example?  Do we know if what we are saying is true or we have no clue and we are just interested in contributing to the famous Echo chamber that we mentioned before?
Basically, I will conclude here –  all the issues that have been discussed over the last two days are extremely important and unfortunately difficult to understand and difficult to address but I think we are setting the lines of the groundwork for doing so in the near future.  
Basically, just to conclude –  We believe at the web foundation, as I have said before –  in digital equality and we believe it is a choice actually.  But we have to choose it and choose it properly.

Final remarks – John Frank

John Frank, Microsoft’s Vice President, EU Government Affairs.


Thank you for the opportunity to be part of the conference today.
It is clear from the paper and the discussions the internet is going to get smarter, it’s going to connect everyone to an incredibly advanced set of technologies that will power the digital transformation of our businesses, our government services, and our personal lives.
There’s never been a better time to be doing city government, trying to think about how to rebuild and reinvent Civic services. While for a small and medium business to engage in leapfrog to the very cutting-edge of Information Technology. Because the power of cloud computing and digital insights is available to everyone with the curiosity and courage to apply data science to all problems and new opportunities. 
There’s never been a better time to apply technology to healthcare. With the cost of DNA sequencing of cancer cells coming down every year to where it’s affordable to sequence the particular cancer of a patient. To understand the DNA and to target medical treatment to the particular cancer cells in a new profound way. Because of digital insights that’s becoming a reality. The opportunities are exciting but they do bring as reflected in the paper anxiety and concern about people’s future people are worried that in order to have a job you have to be cheaper or faster than a robot at a time when robots are getting cheaper and faster, it’s a scary race to be trying to run. But that isn’t the future that we will create for ourselves. 
But it is important to listen to the concerns and to think about how we address the stresses and anxieties of our societies and public. I mean the past decade of economic challenges is reshaping and has reshaped the political landscape and the consumer landscape that both political people and business people face. 
And so, it is important that we think carefully about the kind of future we want to create and to ensure that it is inclusive. That the benefits of digital transformation are shared widely in society and that we rethink how we educate people not just once at the beginning of adulthood and then you just keep going, but in fact realizing that we will need to skill people and re-skill people and in fact each of us will be responsible for to continued re-skilling our people.
As many people here in Brussels have done, are on their second or third or fourth careers doing things. We re-skill. That will be the keystone of a part of the future is ensuring people that we will be there for them when it’s time to re-skill. 
But if we start with the reminder in business we say people will not use technologies they don’t trust. And in the political circles I suppose people will not embrace change that creates risk to their families’ financial future. 
We need to create a future where there is change with people having confidence that we’re managing the risks in ways that they can feel good about and so from both a business point of view and the political point-of-view, shaping a future where technology – digital transformation is going to happen but we need to make sure that it is responsible, that it’s trusted and it’s inclusive. 
So, with that I think turn it over and we will come back to other discussion. 

Final remarks – Luukas Kristjan Ilve

Luukas Kristjan Ilves, Counsellor for Digital Affairs at Permanent Representation of Estonia to the EU.


Thank you.
So, what I actually want to try and do is describe a similar challenge that we faced in trying to look at the breadth of these topics and distil a bit of certainty and a bit of some types of plans out of a range of discussions where, frankly, it’s everywhere.
I mean, professor Floridi used a metaphor of the mangrove, but we who live on the Baltic Sea, we’re used to brackish water that isn’t really fresh water and isn’t really salt water – you can drink it although I don’t really recommend it.
But that’s the world we’re in now, there isn’t a change today that isn’t digital. If you look around Brussels, you have DG CONNECT and you have the people who are dealing with digital policy in the classical narrow sense of the word. 
But there isn’t a piece of EU legislation today a piece of work being done by the lawmaker that isn’t somehow about the digital.  
And so, the intellectual challenge then is to maintain some kind of coherence of agenda as you do all of that. I mean we’ve been trying to do this as we put together the political plans for our EU presidency, which is our sort of short 6-month period, where we get to draw attention to some of these questions. 
And it’s been very difficult because at the end of the day, the program is meaningless.  You can’t generalize, you can’t come up with clear narratives and at the same time really touch on everything. The one bit that we would like to offer to the debate, in the next six months is to try and take some of the aspects of the economic agenda that Europe is working on and give them something a bit more permanent than simply a strategy. 
To sort of see if we can come up with something that is as enduring as a free movement of data, of labour or of services and goods in the single market that actually gives awesome sticking power. We will be talking a lot about the free movement of data as a freedom of the EU in the next 6 to 7 months. 
Now that’s something that often gets people riled up, because they effectively assume that that means that all the questions of a well regulated market go out the window. 
Now, when we talk about the free movement of labour or goods and services in the EU that simply doesn’t mean a neo-liberal dream. There are a lot of restrictions. One of the questions we talk about when we talk about freedom and free movement when it comes to the digital world, is also what the sensible restrictions are. 
In particular one of the questions we’re going to have to deal with is something that again the liberals look at from the perspective – I don’t mean the political group – as a positive thing. A sort of free movement of data in terms of getting rid of localization restrictions. It’s also a chance to deal with some of the difficult jurisdictional issues that we have. 
I mean we don’t have foremost administrative processes in an internet world a single European jurisdiction. Sometimes, that can be quite difficult. Now, if we look at these questions as a whole the good news is that the very highest level of government the prime ministers, the heads of state and government, they really get that this is an issue. If you talk to Mr. Macron, Mrs. Merkel – they say all of these questions as a whole collectively are things they need to deal with and they need to grapple with. 
The challenge however is how to grow from the very good high-level intend to actually get government to work on them in a more practical level.  And if you look at the Rome declaration which the heads of state and government adopted in Rome in March, every single one of the brought topics they talked about impact the themes that you’ve been talking about these last two days. 
We talked about sustainability, the future of society, security needs of European citizens, we talked about Europe’s role on the global stage, and of course economic questions, every one of these could equally well be rewritten into a treatise on what we do, given the digital changes in the world today. 
However, the challenge then is to pull the prime minister’s into saying something coherent on the subject, giving instructions to the rest of us their ministers and the armies of civil servants below them. To make some kind of lemonade out of those lemons. 
On a very practical note on the night of 29th of September we have the privilege of hopefully gathering all of those heads of state and government for a day in Tallin and try to get them do exactly that. I hope that you stay tuned on that question. 
Finally, I do want to give personally a bit of a digital native reaction to some of the questions that have come up here. 
First of all, if we are talking about fake news and the difficulties of the information thrill we have today, yes Facebook has a role as a platform, but as long as we have the open internet nothing stops you from building your own feed aggregator and pulling together your own picture. 
So, while we bemoan the difficulties we also need to be creating some practical bottoms up solutions. In general, one of the frustrations when we have these discussions, and this is a personal frustration, is that if we spend too much time talking about the social justice aspect purely in the context of problematizing them, and discussing the issues without putting forward fairly concrete proposals, those maybe policy proposals they may be technologies they may be in the services, then well – we’re going to continue to discuss these while the rest of the world races ahead of us.
 If we talk about the gap between the Haves and the Have Nots, collectively we still are the Haves, I mean Europe is one of the wealthy parts of the world, my biggest fear is not that the gap between the Haves of Europe and the Have-nots of the rest of the world grows, my fear is actually as a European, is that gap becomes significantly smaller. 
So, with that what I can promise you for the next six months is that in every policy area that the EU deals with, the Council of minister’s deal with will be looking at some of the digital aspects of those policy discussions everything from making taxation work and be more transparent, by use of government solutions to better law enforcement, dealing with hate speech.
I don’t think that we will have a single solution to everything, but we can at least humbly offer a platform for those discussions.
Thank you.

Final remarks – Roberto Viola

Roberto Viola, Director General of DG CONNECT (Directorate General of Communication, Networks, Content and Technology) at the European Commission.


Robert first of all, thank you very much for offering me this opportunity and thanks to you all for resisting till the end and listening to me.
When I proposed to Robert, when he was still in DG CONNECT, in two or three years ago to work on the next generation internet. He actually didn’t throw me out of the room, which could have been a perfectly legitimate thing to do because the idea was absolutely crazy and many of our colleagues had thought so and two crazy people Robert and Roberto started to think a little bit about – in a single page – how would the internet look 30 years from now.
And we invented even a code name for it, we called it Agora, because we wanted really and open space for everyone to be in. And we continued discussing it with our colleagues with various successes, I must say, but we kind of insisted as you may see also from both of us being here.
And then when I actually proposed to president Valery and the secretary-general of the Atomium Foundation to work on this, again they didn’t really think – well what a crazy idea. They immediately said yes, this is a fantastic idea. I must say I’m very happy that from a little bit of a piece of paper, a little bit of an idea of a few enthusiasts the work has developed in such a structural way.
Yes, there has been –  I have read many of the speeches and my colleagues reported what has been discussed – a bit of an eye level discussion on issues which are maybe not really the next 30 Years but tomorrow.
This is the way it should be honestly, I think it’s also important that through the report through the platform of the Atomium foundation, we sense a little bit the interest of the society in this thing. Also, we understand a little bit better, what society expects from all this.
Because yes, maybe in a few months from now to space ship will leave towards directing all this too intense ground-breaking research, but before we do that, we have to be sure of what we do and especially that there is some link with issues which are present.
So, I mean what is the value for me of these two days, the report is that we have a bit of a better idea what are the political and societal expectations about the internet that is going to be. I think the next stage is how to turn to young start-ups, young researchers people that have something important to say. Frame a little bit but not too much, really support them, with publicly-funded research. To actually go in ground-breaking territory.
Because we are again not doing an exercise for tomorrow. We have the time, we have to take our time, we should not be too much obsessed by the recent effect, so we have to now solve the problem through the Next Generation internet.
Project of the issues which are compelling – I mean we have seen every day the news reports. But we have to be clear what is to be the parting point. I see the value in all the discussions you had in the last 2 days the report, all the work that has been done really to frame a number of issues. 
The little intuition we had at the very beginning of the Agora, of the internet of the humans, to really have a more human centric internet where the being, the self has been recognized as very much. Now in society it took us several hundred years to arrive to a democratic recognition of the individual. The same that we expect on the internet, the same that we expect – we preach about it, but I mean one thing is to preach but another is to have the technology that actually follows – which we don’t.
Today we don’t have the technology for a universal recognition of identity, we don’t have technology for personal data spaces, we don’t have the technology to guarantee that every part of the internet remains open. 
That is something that now is the challenge for many young, bright individuals that want to engage in public funded research for the years to come. What we have done now is to make an important reservation in the program for Horizon 2020, 2018 – 2020, for the Next Generation internet.
Also, we did this by reorganizing some of the issues that are already presented in the war plan, like virtual reality for multilingualism into the umbrella of next-generation Internet. 
I think we want an internet which is participative, that speaks many different languages for instance. All the elements that compose the internet in the years to come, we try to frame it in a comprehensive work program, but the work of still sound in the society should progress in parallel.
 I think, these two days are of course and important contribution to this debate but it should continue. 
What I imagine, sound in the society, working with the Civil Society, getting feedback and stimulating ground-breaking research – this will continue hopefully in the months to come, the years to come and we do hope that leaders will recognize in the next framework programme that investing in the digital, investing in the internet is something very important.
Thank you.

Final remarks – Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers


Robert Madelin
Thank you very much.  Ladies and gentlemen before I draw a few conclusions there is space for those inspired by this last panel’s comments to offer questions or thoughts themselves. I just wanted to get a sense who wants to speak. Please. Say who you are because the speaker’s May not have seen you speak before.

Angelo Jarlav
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good evening citizens. My name is Angelo Jarlav. I repeat some things from the past because I know what we are expressing. We are expressing the *inaudible* the European internet because our privacy and safety will never be in hands safer than the European hands. Also, of the block chain we repeat again the research needs deep research from a scientific point of view of this technology. I don’t know if to be honest the joint research centre as they proposed or the Digi Connect also as we did in the past and finishing I have to speak, which I’m going to speak again to the trust communities of Europe about our private data, which are not in the hands of only the public authorities like the European Commission and Parliament but also the companies which they are assisting in their work, which is unacceptable for us. Thank you very much.

Robert Madelin
Thank you very much. Other comments?  Yeah, there.

Prof. Linsen
Professor Linsen from the MNRC – Jose Manuel. You mentioned STEM education, I said this in other sessions: I’m quite exasperated by this insistence on science all the time. Science alone shall not save the world and culture alone shall not save the world. Interdisciplinarity might. To my mind, STEM education should be replaced by interface education. That optimizes the state of mind for complex avant-garde integrated, interdisciplinary challenge processing. This is what we are working on. I think one preceding panellist – Vincenzo Luciano, spoke of the biosphere being related to sustainability as the info sphere is related to what? I would suggest the interface is.

Robert Madelin
Can you study the interface without studying the two things which are interfacing?


Robert Madelin
So, you can study interfacing. It could be a discipline in and of itself.

Yes. This is what we are working on.

Robert Madelin
Ok. Very good. Thank you. Other comments? No. Good.  
It’s always fun to try and draw conclusions and I think that the conclusions I should draw today will encapsulate but not be under the same three headings that I tried yesterday. 
Yesterday it was purpose, foundation and process, but this time it’s a bit more complicated. 
I think, picking up with what Roberto has said I actually think that he has captured the spirit of much of what we’ve done in the last two days and something which, in particular Luciano has brought to this concluding plenary. 
Which is we need to think very deeply and explore together changes which are touching everything, they’re not creating an overnight Revolution.  We have to recognize more than perhaps public debate does. 
As the framework has changed and Luciano said we have a mangrove relationship between analogue and digital. I personally see it as a 2×2 matrix of mangrove, where you also have a question about where the frontiers now lie between the public and the private.
If you listen to the debate, we’ve had reported here one about disruption in the public sphere, one about the disruption in the private sphere – there as well we have an increasingly permeable membrane. If the framework is changing, that can also change who does what. 
We have talked at various stages about the need to involve everyone: civil society, innovators… We’ve talked about – and Mariete has said it – need not to inadvertently privatize what should remain public. 
We haven’t quite so much talked about the extent to which technologies and the public opinion that they empower can take a stronger role in creating social control, where in the past regalia regulators where needed but who does what is a question that emerges from the fact that the framework is changing.
And then finally as we were reminded yesterday, we have to think about Snowden and Robbespierre and Bayes as well as everything else, I mean I take Jose Manuel’s talking about sort of the Basian nature of society’s problems that the future is like the past, the poor rural under-represented gender sets of the population face challenges which will not be resolved by and maybe exacerbated by, but could be helped by – the online world. 
We need to continue to explore, and I have seen that the important point there is that, as I have said yesterday this is the beginning of new conversations.
Secondly, whatever we do we have to do it right. Yesterday, friends from Huawei reminded us of the number 155 billion – how many Euros we are from a properly funded, adequate broadband infrastructure for a 5G fully optically enabled internet experience in Europe. 
First things first are going to have to be remembered – and that’s important in this building which is an important part of the budget authority – but it’s not all about public money. 
Secondly, and again, Mariete has said it today, but it’s been said throughout, we need open government principles, not all member states are in the open government movement and personally I regret that the institution I used to be a part of has also chosen so far not to adhere to the open government movement. 
There’s an opportunity there. And we haven’t yet even in the internet age – and both Mariete and Michelangelo yesterday recognize this – achieved even with the wonderful technology effective engagement of the parts of society that meetings like this do not reach. 
That is the distant but also the younger and maybe as Luukas implies – because some parts of the population are just getting on with it. Maybe it’s also because some of them as Jose Manuel set are just not connected to this conversation but both voices are actually missing and they are needed. 
The Third thing I would say in terms of doing it right is, we have to have evidence not intuition. The fact that we’re dealing with very personal things, doesn’t mean that whatever we think is what is effective for our future in society and I think that as I have said in some of the breakout sessions, we really do need more anthropology and less black letter law in the way in which we frame the debate.
We need to sort of coma think about the evidence and not just what we’ve always said. And that’s the challenge. 
Because it’s about people so it’s about us so we feel we can just Intuit but actually we shouldn’t. The third thing I would say is: the regulation has to evolve and some business speakers have said that, that’s so to and I was very heartened by this, how representatives of the European executive and the legislature. 
Everybody who has spoken about this has recognized that the way we have done regulation hitherto needs to take another jump into the future. What does that mean? It has to be in favour of the innovative process and not the rent holders and incumbents. It has to preserve the public good, it has to avoid – I liked Mariete’s phrase the: “do something approach” – I call it the “problem-solution trap” – and you see it every day in the newspapers. 
So, we have to avoid that. And I think that there for doing something with regulation is important. People who have read my report from last year know that I’m obsessed with experimental regulation. 
Principles based, agile, picking up what Mr. Timmermans said yesterday, helical and open regulation. Regulation using technologies rather than simply sort of manual intervention of regalian regulators.  
There’s a lot there could be done there. There is low hanging fruit, there’s good practice out there and we could begin to experiment with experiments. But you can’t do that without safeguards so the safeguards are what I was referring to after yesterday’s plenary as the foundations that I think go back to principle-based regulation, unless you know what your purpose and direction and values are, we we don’t know what we want.
As a society, we are weak if we don’t know what we want.
I was very struck by that message in the book that professor Schwab of Davos fame published last year. Because things are changing more than ever: in the fourth industrial revolution. 
It’s actually possible for a society that knows what it wants to move in that direction more easily. But it’s equally possible for us to be swept away by everything that’s happening if we don’t know what we want. 
That’s very important, and we do know some of the things we want. The words I have heard through the whole session: inclusion, empowerment, education, maybe even in interfacing as well as STEM I would say. 
Skills and know-how and again, as Luciano have said, some sorts of meta technology that actually helps people. A sort of intellectual exoskeleton for us when we go on the internet. 
We have to find a way of favouring, we have to tune society so that we’re favouring open innovation, open labs the maximization of social value and the sharing of benefits.
There’s all these ideas that have come out, that I think are very rich and I hope that the editors of the polished version of the report will pick some of them up. So then what do you conclude from all of that? 
Personally, I conclude that in the debate here differently to the online debate, there’s been less tekkie self-selection. So, in fact the debate that we’ve had in the room it’s not about the technology it’s about ourselves.
And I think that is extremely positive, because then it means success lies within ourselves. If we have the right attitude and goals, we can set our direction and purpose – and I liked the answer that Luciano had for his questions – we need collective intelligence, we aim at – somebody said yesterday – better lives in the sustainable world and we definitely need to fix the problems that our communities have and not the ones we think they have. 
So, in terms of the next steps: now is the time, if you have bright ideas on the train or plane or metro home to share them with REIsearch – because now they polish over the summer, you can also I think subscribe and follow at a DG CONNECT event, also on the Next Generation internet at the end of June in Brussels, where this work gets a fresh lease of life and helps to frame a more research orientated discussion.
And then I think the report, as it is finalized it’s actually relevant to a lot of the debates we know we’ll be having in the Brussels bubble around the future of Europe and the next financial framework. Remember a 155 billion! 
And somebody asked the question Roberto yesterday, we have got a digital Market strategy, thank you VP Ansip, can we have now and internet strategy. 
So, who knows? But I think that the message that comes out from what we have heard in this last session and from the debate is that Europe can continue to be a leading technological innovator, but we will be more successful doing that if we are also active on these framing conditions as part of the same process, not floating somewhere else. 
So, I think Mike including words will therefore be that I would invite those who have followed this debate so far to stay with it, because hearing what you have heard is that the European institutions and REIsearch certainly will stay with it, and that makes the last two days not just an agreeable event, for which I think you should help me to thank the organizers, but also hopefully a foundation stone for some important conversations in the next months and years.
Thank you very much and journey safely home.