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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.
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.
the article by Financial Times journalist and moderator of the event John Thornhill‘Europe should worry less and learn to love AI‘, reporting on the AI Act, where he also mentions the notion of public digital infrastructure, a key focus of the conference.
European Parliament, Brussels
Shaping Europe’s digital model
Building alliances for a progressive European vision
»Der er tale om en markant udvikling«: Det vrimler med Wolt-bude
by Politiken 19/01/2024
'"This is a significant development": Wolt workers are everywhere' Politiken's article about the Digital Programme's first policy study: 'Employment terms of platform workers'
A szociális unió imperatívusza
by Új Egyenlőség 09/09/2023
'The imperative of Social Union'. Article about FEPS book 'Europe’s Social Integration: Welfare Models and Economic Transformations' by László Andor.
AI, platforms and (human) workers’ rights
by Social Europe 07/07/2023
In Social Europe' article, Gerard Rinse Oosterwijk, FEPS Policy Analyst on Digital, talks about the efforts to regulate AI undertaken by the EU and highlights the importance to grasp this opportunity to set the rules for a human-centric approach
Rapid grocery worker conditions are worsening, states report
by The Grocer 30/05/2023
The findings of our FEPS study on the quick-commerce sector and the conditions of rider workers were picked up by the UK-website 'The Grocer’.
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