Welcome Address – Alain Lamassoure

Alain Lamassoure, Member of the European Parliament for the south-west of France

It is a privilege and honour for me to welcome this Next Generation Internet Summit here in the European Parliament on behalf of the President Jerzy Buzek and all my present colleagues in this room. We are very proud as members of this Parliament to have played a role in the setting up of the Atomium European Institute which is very important and influential network for the most prominent European scientists. If you allow me a few comments from my part to compliment and elaborate on what has just being said by Commissioners and I am very happy to contribute to their work.

Science is now living through a Golden Age. Progress of fundamental knowledge in the infinitely small as the infinitely large. Explosion of technological applications upon communications, materials in daily life. Scientific and technological evolutions by the interconnectional disciplines.
For example, the so-called boson of prof. Higgs, dark matter, exoplanets, sequencing of human genome, hybridisation, human machine, stem cells, nano materials, artificial intelligence which has been already mentioned are some examples.
This expansion of science in the meaning of the expansion of the Universe, requires from us, the policy makers three types of moral duties:

The First is to give its right place to science in politics, in our decision making. Too many political decisions are still based on incorrect, partial, biased, untreated(?) information.
Example: I was very strict when I was in charge of the budget in the government in my country some time ago. To note that economic policy lies to less reliable data then the meteorology for their forecasts does. We do not know what the weather will be tomorrow, that’s clear, but at least we do know if it is raining now or if the weather is nice today. Well, we have learned only last week what the accurate rate of growth of French industry was three years ago. Don’t let ourselves be deceived by the big data mirage. It all depends on the quality of the data. When it comes to the economy controversies between new Keynesian and the supply – side theories, still reminds us too often of the theological debate between heliocentrism and geo- centrism three or four centuries ago.
Nobel Prise winner Jean Tiroles’ book “Economics of common good” makes a good assessment between what the contemporary economy contains – of science and ideology.

The Second duty to give science all its place, but nothing more than a right place. Science is means, the wellbeing of mankind is the purpose. However, whether is big data, genetic medicine or weapons still to be invented, science gives us an unprecedent power on life quality, on death, but also on biological and social identity of the people of our time.
JFK has been quoted, I will quote him again. In its wonderful inaugural address, JFK quoted Samuel Pisar’s words: “Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life”. It was 1960. He would add today – and the power to choose and change all forms of life.
It’s not for scientists to decide on collective use of their research, it is indeed for policy makers, democratically elected. It took us centuries to make science independent of religion. The Brazilian flag reminds us of the glare of positivist philosophers for whom science was a substitute for religion. Scientism was a wrong way. Carried away by the enthusiasm of their discovery, today California researchers pretend that their science is able and it is allowed to prescribe the future of man kind. It is a current debate now between transhumanism and post humanism. But Europe is birth place of humanism and it must remain so. Science will never be able to give the answer to the fundamental question of human anguish – the meaning of life.

The Third and last duty for us politicians, policymakers – the fight against the new obscurantism. It is the opposite risk of overestimating the role of science. In all of our societies, a form of resentment has been developed against progress and against science.
Originally, where the fight of the researches themselves upon the possible consequences of their works. Let us remember the prof. Oppenheimer reciting to him famous words of the Indian wisdom book Bhagavad Gita in front of the first nuclear explosion in Los Alamos in 1945: “Now I become death, the destroyer of worlds”.
Within the public opinion, the mixture of remorse about 20th century tragedies, but the resentment without the capacity of science to cope with the most serious diseases and kind of giddiness about too rapid progress, leads to prejudice against science or which is worst, to a classification of what’s good and what’s bad morally in the progress of science, or even in categories of science.
For instance, all forms of chemistry of nuclear physics, of nano science are demonised as such. Not the outcome, but as such. Their scholars or specialists are considered as sponsored by lobbies. Somehow it is civilisation regress.
For the good use of science, we do need elective ethics. It is probably one of the most urgent serious issues of this century of globalisation. How to work on it, whom with, how to define common rules, how to make this rules work.
This network is the prefiguration of how to approach this major issue of our time.
We thank for this, Mr. Chairman and all of you, good luck, thank you.

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.

Welcome Address – Frans Timmermans

Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the EU Commission, in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights

 

Define “disruption”: disruption is to break up or throw into disorder.
I think that’s your goal if you’re an innovator: to wake up in the morning and disrupt the world. To discover a new concept that changes everything.
On social media – you get millions of shares. On Euronext – shares worth millions.
And as the inventions conquer the world, we stand in awe.
Innovators are modern wizards. They enchant us with their magic.
The pace of change is bewildering.
Because of our connectivity once secluded realms of technology now team up and share concepts, principles and methods across disciplines, helping everyone progress even faster together.
I’m not telling you anything new by saying we’re in the middle of a fourth industrial revolution.  
And it will upset the current economic order: the way we make things, the way we trade, the way we work, and also the way we live.
I’m an idealist without illusions [as JFK once said]. And I think history has proven me right.
Look at Europe.
We have built a continent open and free. Where democracy reigns. Where there is no death penalty. Where we couple the power of the free market with the responsibility of social governance. A truly unique accomplishment that I frankly believe we should be more proud of.
Over the ages, innovation has improved our lives. We live longer. Fewer people starve. Fewer people starve.
I marvel at what my children know and what they can do (though I don’t tell it to them as they’d become even more unbearably arrogant about what they can do).
I look to innovation and technology to continue to feed us all, to cure old and new diseases, to generate renewable energy to protect our planet, to educate new generations of citizens who have to navigate in choppier seas of information, to map the helixes of life, our earth, our universe, and of course to protect humankind from natural dangers, but also from itself.
So, I welcome disruption.
But there are side effects too, some small, some big.
It is great when robots do our laundry and other chores. But what does it mean for people whose jobs can be automated?
It is great when people all around the world can meet and talk through the internet.
But what when extremists and terrorists can preach, recruit and marshal their moronic minions to kill and maim in the streets of London, Brussels or Paris?
It is great when sometime soon artificial intelligence can help our cars steer safely through traffic, minimizing road mortality.
But what happens once we reach the pivotal point when AI becomes smarter than us?
Some say God created man, and then man rejected God. Today we create sophisticated algorithms… Can they one day reject us?
As technology surges forward, we need to take a step back and look in the mirror.
Are our ethics, our norms, our laws adapted to these new developments? Can we still be sure that we – we humans – will still control technology?
Going back to the basics. Who are we? What do we stand for? What kind of world do we want our children to live in?
Technology has no innate morality. Nuclear power can cure and it can kill.
Innovation above all is a moral and political challenge.
For innovation and technology to serve us, we – humanity– must endow innovation with true meaning.
The next generation internet must be more than the Internet of things.
It must be the Internet of values.
This means that, first, we must protect democracy and our way of life.
In Europe, we are perhaps too used to living in a free, peaceful and open society.
But nothing is irreversible, nothing unbreakable, nothing inevitable.
Our values are under threat. Not only from the outside, but alas, also from within.
And the 4th industrial revolution also carries the risk of “Our democracies being hacked”
Hacked, by inequality, by the ever-greater power and money in the hands of a few mighty Internet giants.
Hacked, in very literal terms, by hackers and trolls disrupting politics at home and abroad or waging a hybrid war.
Hacked by the Internet echo chambers, that stop us from listening to each other and seeing each other.
By the misinformation revolution.
By the new illiteracy: the inability to tell fact from fiction, the loss of critical thinking.
Hacked, most recently, most cowardly in London by fanatics, whose rejection of modernity does not stop them from spreading high-tech hatred and taking it to our streets.
I tell you here today, that we will not allow murderous extremists to use our freedoms against us, to highjack the information freeway and turn it into a digital highway of death.
We created the EU Internet Forum in 2015 for member states, stakeholders, industry to take action. Now four of the largest companies (Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft) have developed a database to help address this problem.
The fight goes on while together we develop new means to counter terrorist content online with the objective of faster detection of terrorist content on the platforms.
Secondly, democracy will only be viable if we ensure no one gets left behind.
Uber might put taxi drivers out of a job – but then driverless cars may put Uber drivers out of a job.
White collar jobs are no longer safe, either. 
Sure, new jobs will be created. Most likely they will require more and better skills.
But as so often, those with the least education and lowest incomes stand to suffer the most.
We say to people: learning becomes a life-long duty. You must adapt. You must be flexible. Which is true.
But at the same time our mortgages, our rents, are not flexible. Nor is our insurance, our groceries, or the schooling of our kids. This poses a challenge.
Schumpeter’s ‘creative destruction’ is a great concept, leading to great progress. But if you lose your job in the meantime you will wonder angrily: “Progress?”  What progress?
So, if we want to become more flexible, it is inevitable to start thinking about things like universal basic income. To create enough stability to allow us to be more flexible.
So, to meet these challenges, what should we do?
Against this deep-set fear of losing control, populists offer protection by turning back the clock. Offering protection by raising walls. First on land, then online.
But walls are not a solution. Bridges are. Together Europe can build bridges and face these challenges.
Simple math shows that our global strength in Europe is in numbers, in our diversity, in our values, our openness and our unity in seizing the future.
Both my grandfathers were coal miners. I am proud of that coal mining tradition. But I would never dream of sending people down the pits today.
Renewables are becoming cheaper by the minute, are clearly the way of the future, are clearly the better deal.
We must reject a ‘YOLO’ (you only live once) society. We must instead embrace a ‘WOHOW’ (we only have one world) society.
President Trump did the climate no great favour last week, to put it mildly. But as America turns to coal, the Commission continues its work on implementing the Paris Agreement with the rest of the world, its work on eco-design making appliances more efficient, on the circular economy moving towards a waste-less economy, and in the future on plastics that great scourge of our seas and our health, taking the lead with a strong sustainability agenda, and calling out to scientists and innovators everywhere: join us in creating jobs and safeguarding our planet.
But it’s also about people.
To stop the social fabric from ripping to shreds, we must redraw the social contract, and re-affirm our promise that no one in Europe gets left behind.
This means empowering women and men. For instance, through our work-life balance proposal a few weeks ago, offering more flexibility for both women and men, ensuring they have a real choice in fulfilling their lives as parents, carers and professionals as they see fit, and marshalling the unused potential of women talents to the benefit of Europe.
We must make sure that everyone will share in the fruits of progress. That free trade turns into fair trade. That we uphold our high standards of health and safety globally.
That’s why we have presented a globalisation paper to start the debate on how we can harness globalisation, making it work for everyone, not just those at the top of society.
We do all this, and more, because we need to secure the future of our European open society and our citizens.
And we must do this, because if we don’t do this, the forces of illiberalism and xenophobia that prey on crises might be more successful next time around.
So, my conclusion is, I have great hope for the next generation internet. It’s the next generation of Europeans who will make the next generation internet.

Europe is their natural habitat. They travel from Brussels to Bucharest like my parents did from Maastricht to Amsterdam. More easily, and cheaper by the way. Those like my son, born in 1989, the year of miracles, have only know a Europe that is undivided, and at peace.
Those born in that year are also the first truly digital generation, who have never known the analogue world. Cassette players, rotary dial phones, faxes, it is all old school to them. Heck, it’s even old school to me now!
Our young generations are idealistic, but without being ideological. Inspired not by visions, but driven by values.
If they can harness their enthusiasm and organise themselves, I’m sure this new generation, true digital natives, true natives of Europe, will meet the challenges that face us.
So, let us move forward into the future with high hopes, let us embrace disruption, but let us also heed the words of one of the greatest minds of our time [Einstein], who said:
“Concern for man and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavours. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations.”
Thank you very much.