The Web Summit 2017 Lisbon has called for new rules for powerful technology companies to end their monopolies as well as for the privacy and security of the end users. The tech companies like Google and Facebook seem like monopolies and need new rules. Need for new rules was similar to past technological shifts such as the invention of cars.
Web Summit 2017 took place in Lisbon again from November 6 – 9. The event brought 60,000 attendees from over 160 countries together. In six short years, Web Summit has grown from 400 attendees to over 60,000 attendees from more than 150 countries. No technology conference has ever grown so large so fast. Web Summit has become Europe’s largest and most important technology marketplace.
Addressing the summit, the co-founder of Web Summit, Paddy Cosgrave joined growing calls for tighter regulation of big technology firms especially after news that Russia may have manipulated the last US election with political advertisements on Facebook. He said recent initiatives by European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager could bring big changes for big tech companies and help level the playing field in a sector which is having a profound impact on societies. Cosgrave said that new technology had been assumed by many to be just positive, but it often “can be incredibly disruptive”.
Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa expressed optimism about the continuity of the Web Summit in Portugal, arguing that this was a major asset for the country, especially in terms of external projection and the opening of new business opportunities.
He was speaking to journalists ahead of the closing session of the Web Summit after having been together for 30 minutes with former Vice President, Al Gore. No one doubts the usefulness of the Web Summit in Portugal, not only for what he presents in this week, but above all for what he leaves behind in terms of inspiration and projection of the image of the country around the world.
Asked if the Web Summit can be kept in Portugal beyond 2018, António Costa replied: “Well, keep it there forever.” “Ultimately, the decisions have to be made by Paddy Cosgrave and his team. The relationship is excellent and I think this year has gone even better than in 2016,” he said. Costa later said it was certain that in 2018 the Web Summit “will run even better than this year”.”As we do better, we are all gaining more confidence so that we can continue,” he added .
The prime minister said that the Web Summit placed Lisbon for the second consecutive year at the heart of the debate on the great challenges of humanity, in a speech in which he praised the growing presence of Portuguese startups.
The Web Summit does not make Lisbon just the capital of entrepreneurship in technological innovation, it also puts it at the heart of the global debate on the great challenges of humanity: hopes, fears, climate change, artificial intelligence or fighting inequalities, “said the prime minister.
The Portuguese Prime Minister was proud of “the work, dynamics and vibration of the ecosystem of the national startups”. The capacity for intelligence, creativity and energy have transformed the opportunities for seized ideas. Enjoy this week very well and the opportunities they have to meet people from all over the world, “he said.
While addressing the summit United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that we had to look to the near future with a strategic vision that combined the actions of governments, civil society, private sector and academia so that technological innovation was a force for good as well as to respond to the impact of the fourth industrial revolution, marked by the generalization of technology in daily life.
“This fourth industrial revolution will have a dramatic impact on societies and our way of living in markets, so it is important to anticipate the impact of technological evolution,” Guterres said, exemplifying with drivers in the United States.
“Drivers are the greatest workforce I have in the United States, but with automation and robotization we will have to learn to anticipate the future to avoid a massive unemployment rate,” he added.
“It is not learning to do things, but learning to learn, because the things we do today are not the things we will do tomorrow,” argued the UN Secretary-General, adding that the solution cannot be to stop technology.
“We have to avoid the stupid reaction of trying to stop innovation, this is stupid because it is impossible and because it prevents us from having positive benefits, but we must also avoid the naivety of thinking that traditional forms of regulation for sectors such as energy or financial system can solve the problem, “Guterres said. Guterres, in an address where he reviewed some of the main problems that humanity is facing, such as climate change, economic growth, poverty or migrations resulting from inequalities, said: “Globalization is a force to make the good and the new technologies too”, but admitted there were collateral damages. The answer to collateral damage is fair globalization, but the good news is that science is on our side,” said the diplomat, adding that ”the green economy is the economy of the future, so you can make money and do the good”.
In the speech, Guterres also stressed the importance of discussing these problems, arguing that it is good that the participants here begin to discuss the impact of the fourth revolution in the future, because science and technology are not neutral, we can eradicate diseases with genetic engineering, but we can also create monsters, we can use cyberspace to improve people’s lives or to facilitate terrorism, he warned.
On the last day of Summit, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa expressed his concern about the existence of too many politicians who deny reality regarding climate change, pointing out that Portugal remains faithful to the Paris Agreements. I am worried about many politicians, too many decision-makers who deny the reality, deny climate change. Portugal remains committed to the Paris Accords. But many politicians are not attending to this revolution. I’m a law professor and I can say that Law and politics are far behind science, technology, economics and finance, he said.
In his short speech, the head of state thanked the participants at the technology summit and also addressed the thousands spread around the world” dedicated to this theme, the scientific and technological revolution they are playing.
You’re making one. You are the transformers because you are changing the world. They are changing society, economies, culture and the way of living, he said. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa also affirmed himself proud of Portugal and the Portuguese, which is changing fast.
Portugal has made a change in research centers and universities, in international networks. This is an occasion for a leap forward also in this area, “he said, already at the exit of the Atlantic Pavilion, where the summit took place. The President of the Republic also expressed the wish that not only next year, but “in the next as well”, Portugal will again host the important technology event that ends today.
In his speech, which preceded that of the mayor of Lisbon, Fernando Medina, the head of the government argued that Lisbon is the natural city to host events such as the Web Summit, because it has been for centuries a contact between people of different cultural backgrounds. Our history, our geography and culture made us an open society, a bridge between different continents.