Last Thursday, Lisbon was once again the host of the Web Summit, one of Europe’s main rallies for tech practitioners of all horizons. This year, two of our Liberal Commissioners were invited as guest speakers.
For her third participation, Commissioner for Competition and Executive Vice-President Designate for Europe’s Digital agenda Margrethe Vestager was welcome by a packed room as “the most powerful regulator of big tech on the planet”.
On Artificial Intelligence, Margrethe Vestager fleshed-out the European approach to AI, a smart mix of allowing strong technological progress while keeping human oversight, so as to overcome the apparent clash between technology and humanity. “I see no limits as to how AI can support what we want to do as humans”, from fighting climate change to medical care, “but we need to get in control of the cornerstones so that we can trust it”, she said. She also called the platforms - Facebook especially - to put actions behind their words and contribute to protecting democracy through a fair, open and transparent dialogue (as opposed to one-to-one, micro-targeted user outreach).
In a panel entitled ‘Promoting democratic values online’, Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Justice and Vice-President Designate for Values and Transparency called for more transparency for political campaigning on online platforms, allowing for the power and responsibility of such platforms to reach a better balance than what we see today. “We don’t want the elections to become the competition of dirty methods like Cambridge Analytica”, she said in an interview to CNBC. Addressing the liability of the platforms, whether with respects to illegal content or disinformation, will be critical to protect users throughout Europe.