06/12/2023
17:15 - 21:30
Claridge, Brussels
Transforming capitalism in the Age of AI
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EU policymakers have proposed an alphabet soup of digital laws – DMA, DSA, DGA, AIA, you name it – to get more transparency and accountability from each firm and the digital infrastructures they control. Also, to counter the excesses like monopolistic power over digital market spaces and the polarising effects of social media on democratic processes.      

But this agenda – vital though it is – is too defensive. While the EU aims to get a minimum of transparency, cash-strapped public authorities continue to outsource their responsibilities to tech firms, hoping their technological fixes can solve problems like poverty, bad health, and failing education. But while those problems are as accurate as ever, there is one immediate outcome: our public institutions and how we work and live are reshaped to serve Big Tech’s profits and power

This dynamic is again at work with the latest wave of AI tools. Although they have benefits, these systems are hyped as inevitably leading to significant progress for all humanity. What is ignored is that they are opaque, biased, costly, resource-intense and controlled by a handful of Silicon Valley firms that need to profit. Hence, it is likely that the widespread adoption of such AI-branded tools will leave a bad taste: prices of the devices will rise, public authorities will be locked in, and values like democracy, equality, solidarity and sustainability will suffer – because the tech solutions do not optimise for that. 

With the EU elections nearing, the question is whether the EU can do things differently. This is urgent, as the next wave of tech – machine learning models from Chat-GPT to Stable Diffusion – is hitting our shores. Will the EU again accept this as a fait accompli whilst trying belatedly to manage some risks? Or will it develop its vision and programme for digital tech that aligns with European values?

To discuss this, we opened with a keynote from Evgeny Morozov, founder of The Syllabus, and Valeria Pulignano, Professor in Sociology at the Centre for Sociological Research (CESO) – KU Leuven, followed by a reaction of Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights. John Thornhill, the Innovation Editor at the Financial Times, will moderate the discussion. 

Transforming capitalism in the Age of AI

For more information, please contact Euléane Omez, Project Management coordinator, at euleane.omez@feps-europe.eu

The day following this event, we continued discussing the EU approach to the digital transition with a full-day conference. On Thursday 7 December, FEPS and the S&D Group in the European Parliament organised a conference titled ‘Shaping Europe’s digital model’. More info on this event and registration can be found here.

On this topic, read:

Network
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
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