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This year’s edition of Techno-Politics Forum took place 16 November at Maison Grand Place in Brussels. The discussions were focused on three critical areas of technological advancement. 

ELF Executive Director, Alva Finn, opened the Forum saying that ELF’s approach to technology is inspired by our motto: own the future.  She claimed that while there are always challenges, ELF wants to be positive about technology and its role in the future.

Kicking off the conference, we discussed sustainability in aviation with key industry figures & relevant politicians including Nathalie Errard, SVP, Head of European and NATO affairs at Airbus and MEP Jan-Christoph Oetjen, Renew Europe Group and Vice-Chair of the TRAN Committee and Alain Mathuren, Communication Director at FuelsEurope. MEP Oetjen pointed to the necessity of a mix of energies to fulfil the EU’s needs, calling for more international cooperation. Alain Mathuren, Communication Director at FuelsEurope also state the importance of using digitalisation to bring more efficiency in the energy sector and rethinking our industrial policy from the perspective of the whole continent. 

In a discussion on the challenges of the European digital transformation and connectivity we heard the insights of Pearse O’Donohue, Director of Future Networks, DG CONNECT, European Commission and Maarit Palovirta, Senior Director for Regulatory Affairs, ETNO among others. Pearse O’Donohue emphasised the significant investment gap, a challenge with regards to technological developments and the need for networks to keep up. The panel agreed that the telecom sector is a critical asset for the EU competitiveness and Darren Ennis, Group Head of EU Affairs at Vodafone Belgium pushed that the industry demands more market consolidation, creating space for national champions to become European. International cooperation is needed in the sector and like-minded partners are key to share best practices, as highlighted by Alberto Zilio, Director Public Affairs Europe, AT&T.

During the final session of the conference, the panel, including Christina Montgomery, Global Chief Privacy & Trust Officer, IBM, MEP Karen Melchior, Renew Europe and JURI Committee and Sarah Chander, Lead on AI and NGO coalition work on the AI Act, EDRi debated the correct balance between innovation in AI and regulation and the protection of human rights. Christina Montgomery affirmed that the risk of AI doesn’t come from the technology or the foundational model, but from the context in which they are used. 

We also welcomed Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, Director of ECIPE as Keynote speaker, who also called for less regulation from the EU, to not ‘remain in the past’, but to instead encourage those with reason and liberal ideas to speak up against the misuse of the AI technology. 

Find out more & read the TechnoPolitics series.

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