I’m Victoria Main, head of the budding Technology Practice at Cambre Associates.
Our talented team, which is full of voracious readers, is happy to introduce you to #TechAways, our very own selection of the top stories we’ve read each week delivered to your inbox. We want to help you keep up with the hottest developments in the tech world and their implications for Europe.
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Wow. In a (very) long read, Maureen Dowd sits down with the who’s who of the artificial intelligence world. With Elon Musk’s hesitation guiding her investigation, she speaks with luminaries left, right and centre of the AI debate. It’s clear that concepts driving the hopes and fears of these tech gods, and in some cases the existing technology, are far beyond what most of us – including policy-makers – are worried about. The European Parliament has adopted a report on robotics – but according to Musk – the robots won’t be the problem. Should policy-makers be shifting their focus from personhood and robot taxes to the algorithms and programmes that power them?
Will humans always prevail? Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari’s doesn’t think so. In a podcast discussing his new book, Harari dives into the threat that our own intelligence and creativity pose. A key worry for him is the intelligence versus consciousness debate. Machines are becoming intelligent – but are we forgetting about programming consciousness, that part of us that solves problems by feeling things? What would a world of nonconscious super machines look like? It might seem like a plot for a new The Matrix movie, but it could become a reality. As part of the growing debate on robots and AI at the EU level, the European Parliament recently launched a public consultation on robotics and artificial intelligence. But - do citizens, businesses and governments share the same concerns?
Facebook just found another way to ramp up its political action, announcing this week that it is launching a new tool for political advocacy. The "Town Hall" tab will enable users (only US-based for now) to engage with local authorities and representatives through emails, messenger or direct calls. We’re wondering whether this feature might be implemented in Europe. As the 2019 elections loom and the EU contends with Brexit, could this be an opportunity to bring EU institutions closer to their citizens? Political distrust is obviously a big business opportunity for tech companies.
It takes just the right mix of talent, creativity, funding and courage to create a community driven by innovation. In Germany, known for companies like Bosch, BMW and Siemens that are over 100 years old, it is often assumed this mix doesn’t exist. That seems to be changing. 6,000 start-ups have emerged recently, further boosting Berlin’s tech reputation. But, much of Germany’s tech innovation is happening in other places. Karlsruhe and Munich, with excellent universities and proximity to industrial companies, have caught up with hyped capital. Shifts in behaviour in risk-taking, financing and corporate vision have all played their part. Other regions around Europe looking to boost their own digital potential should take note.
Is Instagram bringing about the end of the retail store’s role as an intermediary between designers and consumers? It certainly allows designers to promote their wares and personal websites directly to consumers worldwide, circumventing some typical players in the retail chain. But designers are using their Instagram success to place their products in high-end stores, targeting niche groups. It’s too early to write off online and brick-and-mortar shops completely, but these rapid changes in how producers are getting their products to consumers (especially younger ones) illustrates the need for future-proof legislation and policies as dynamic as the trends in consumer habits and the supply chain.
Protecting data privacy is hot. That was until the US Congress voted earlier this week to allow internet service providers to share the private data of users with advertisers. The Verge posted a list of the 265 members of Congress who supported the bill and the amount of money that each received in donations from the telecoms industry. "Cards Against Humanity" (a creative card game for those of you that have never played) creator Max Temkin took to the internet to plot his revenge. Shocked at how little money they received, Temkin vowed to purchase and share the browser history of all 265 members of Congress. In a post- Wikileaks age of increasingly radical transparency, it seems like legislators need to watch their backs.
#TechAways is brought to you by Cambre’s Technology Practice led by Victoria Main and featuring François Barry, Zachery Bishop, Svenja Mai, Anne-Claude Martin, Efthymia Ntivi, Teodora Raychinova, and Theresa - Sophie Stiegler.
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