We’re leading with UK news to mark yesterday’s election that left the ruling Conservative Party without a clear majority. At the time of writing, the shape of the future government is unclear, with big question marks hanging over the Brexit negotiations and UK tech policies.
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In the UK’s pre-election countdown, the internet fast became a scapegoat for the terror attacks at London’s Borough Market last Saturday that left at least eight dead and nearly 50 injured. But common sense swiftly prevailed with tech commentators puncturing British Prime Minister Theresa May’s claim that ‘the internet and the big companies that provide internet-based services’ give ‘this ideology the safe space it needs to breed’. While the big tech companies must do better in combating extremist content, there’s no turning the clock back on the internet. In blaming the messenger, the former interior minister was missing the point. Surely her massive police cuts played a part.
To leave or not to leave? That’s the question put to UK-based Polish FinTech champions. The answer? MyDocSafe is nervous Brexit would restrict freedom of movement, while Billon fears losing passporting rights. Still, they’re looking ahead with confidence. ‘I do not trust the Polish regulatory authority,’ explains Azimo's Marta Krupinska. ‘In the UK you can do anything unless it is regulated, in Poland, you can do only what is regulated. How can you innovate there?’ This should reassure London; at least until FinTech-friendly attitudes become more common across the EU27.
In case you’ve tuned out of the constant deluge of Trump news, the US President’s Vatican visit last month had an unexpected outcome. Pope Francis trolled Trump with a gift of his 2015 papal letter on global warming, the Laudato Si. This inspired two venture capitalists to set up the Laudato Si Startup Challenge to fund and mentor tech start-ups looking to combat climate change. While funding doesn’t come directly from the Vatican, the programme has close ties to the Holy See. The next best thing to pennies from heaven.
A new study by a team of researchers polling 352 industry leaders and experts around the globe (including Tesla’s Elon Musk) has found they believe AI will be capable of performing any task as well as or better than humans by 2060. AI is then tipped to take over all human jobs by 2136, starting with translation in 2025 and surgery in 2053). Interestingly, North American experts thought AI would outperform humans on all tasks within 74 years, while experts in Asia considered this would take only 30 years. Europeans were somewhere in the middle.
You can find the best and the worst of humanity on the internet. A Net Aware survey, released by UK’s National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children shows that among 1,600 children and teenagers across the country, more than a third had added a stranger to their contacts in the past six months. A quarter said they were likely to do so in the future. To protect them, the organisation urges parents to talk with their children about basic safety as they do with crossing the road and talking to strangers. In fact, we should all remember that online life is real life.
Feel the tech industry in the EU lacks the ambition to tackle real problems? The FT claims it’s time to visit Bratislava. The Slovak capital has the potential to become central Europe’s Silicon Valley. Costs are low, tech-savvy graduates are easy to find, and the domestic market is so limited that entrepreneurs have had to think global from the start. Even though growth capital for scale-ups is not yet available in the quantities needed, Bratislava has already attracted several highly innovative tech companies to central Europe.
Many wrote China’s closest thing to Twitter off as down and out when the do-it-all app WeChat conquered the country’s internet. After a disastrous IPO in 2014, no one was betting on Weibo’s survival. Now its stock market value exceeds $16 billion and unlike its Western counterpart, it’s profitable. Weibo achieved something rare for internet products: it regained lost momentum. It did so by controlling its content and tailoring the platform for rural users in communities that competitors ignored. Amidst fake news epidemics and fierce competition of all-round platforms, Weibo’s expansion shows creative approaches to engage under-serviced communities can pay off.
#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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