Made in Europe – Digital human dignity?

Photo Vivian Haddad, Content Susanne Gold & Corinna Heumann

There is no mathematical equation for the consequences of technological progress. This is why technological developments always automatically raise the question of responsibility for them.

Europe has a long tradition in the humanities and natural sciences.

It was there that democracy and human rights were invented, and even the banks. At CERN near Geneva, the web was created in 1989, when Tim Berners-Lee set up the hypertext system with the aim of allowing general access to a large collection of documents.

At that time, certainly nobody thought of a way to trade in citizens’ personal data and thus accumulate huge fortunes. In the meantime, however, it is obvious that only with an interdisciplinary combination of different departments can one begin to find solutions to problematic socio-political developments.

China and the USA are ahead in terms of investment

To date, there is comparatively little investment in artificial intelligence in Europe compared to China and the USA. The latter compete for global leadership in future technologies. AI research in China is driven by the state, among other things to protect the interests of the government. In the USA, AI research projects are mainly financed by industry and mainly serve to create value.

In Europe, comparatively little investment has been made so far

By 2015, companies in the USA were already investing almost 20 billion euros in AI, and in Asia just over 10 billion euros – in Europe the figure was just 3.5 billion euros at that time.

This picture is also reflected in investments in AI start-ups. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, global funding for start-ups tripled from 5 to 15.2 billion dollars – with China as the driving force. There, the amount of investment rose from around $ 0.5 billion to almost $ 7 billion. In the USA, investment doubled from just under $3.1 billion to $5.8 billion. The rest of the world, on the other hand, increased by only about 50 per cent, to a total of 2.1 billion dollars.

AI – Ethics, Made in Europe?

A European AI strategy could now be an ethics in information technology – “Made in Europe”. This should integrate trust, security, transparency and reliability in AI and thus create advantages in global competition. It would thus mark a powerful alternative to the strategies of the AI giants USA and China. And establish a “third way” that focuses on data protection, sustainability and humanistic values.

Foundations for shaping the future

This constructive AI mindset requires not only extraordinary state investment in education and research, but also the courage of entrepreneurs to take an active and reflective approach to shaping the future. Such an AI competition strategy also fits into the new EU project. Europe wants to become a pioneer in crypto-currencies.

Europe wants to become a pioneer

The European Commission wants to set new standards with new rules for digital and crypto-currencies, such as Bitcoin or Libra, making Europe a pioneer. To this end, the Brussels authority announced that the package will strengthen Europe’s competitiveness and innovation in the financial sector. This should pave the way for Europe to become a world leader.

Consumers will have more choice in financial services and payment methods. The package will unify the digital single market to give consumers cross-border access to financial products. Today’s package will boost Europe’s competitiveness and innovation in the financial sector and pave the way for Europe to be a world leader, the Brussels agency said. Consumers would have more choice and choice in financial services and modern payment methods.

At the same time, consumer protection and financial stability would be strengthened. In the current situation, there is an urgent need for action and innovation to ensure that digital research and its application are based on human dignity and ethical values.

Corruption and manipulation scandals shake European global companies

More than 50% of Germans lost confidence in their banks. Only 13% still believe that their bank advises them independently. The ECB’s expansive monetary policy is increasingly being criticised. The large Internet groups are undermining free market competition and the basic democratic order.

A US Congressional committee has just published the report of an investigation and comes to devastating results: The sub-committee’s series of hearings produced significant evidence that these firms are exercising their dominance in ways which undermine entrepreneurship, worsen American privacy on the Internet and undermine the vitality of a free and diverse press. The result is less innovation, less consumer choice and a weakened democracy.

Who takes responsibility for this?

At the same time as confidence in large commercial enterprises and, to some extent, in the political class influenced by lobbyists is waning, a new sense of values is growing among the population. During the COVID-19 crisis, it is being closely monitored which governments and states are mastering it and in what way. Nationalist and populist parties are losing support. A policy of the democratic centre, tolerance, social balance and climate protection is gaining in importance.

Human dignity, autonomy, freedom of opinion and participation in socio-political processes, mental and physical health, protection against digital manipulation and exploitation through wage dumping, equal opportunities are increasingly demanded by the population even in non-democratic societies. It can be seen that behind every technology there are people who must be held responsible for the consequences that its developments have.

Regulation of autonomous IT systems

In order to regulate autonomous IT systems, the EU Parliament recommended that the Commission should take the following ethical values relating to digitisation into legal consideration as early as 2017 Freedom, privacy, dignity, self-determination, security, equality, justice, non-discrimination, transparency, autonomy and responsibility.

The future of currencies will affect us all and shape our societies. A single digital European currency incorporating European ethical values will restore Europe’s lost credibility in the world.

All Europe’s citizens are therefore called upon to consider whether we leave the answers only to engineers, investors and entrepreneurs and their private interests, or whether we ourselves act in the interests of the general good and of a Europe worth living in.

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