by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană in the panel: “Global Emerging Technology Summit” organised by the National Security Commission on AI (NSCAI)

  • 13 Jul. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 14 Jul. 2021 18:52

Checked against delivery.

SAFRA CATZ [NSCAI commissioner and Oracle CEO]: Thank you. Thank you. It is…It is really such an exciting time with technology. I mean, pretty much we’re starting to think that machines can think like us. We’ve got unbelievable achievements in biotech, in robotics, of course, 5G as a platform to make it all happen. And it seems like isn’t this truly a phenomenal time to be alive? And I’ll tell you, it is. And yet, when we think back to the 20th century with the amazing developments during the 20th century for technology, for industrial production, all sorts of things, that was an exciting time. And yet we ended up in cataclysmic conflict in the . . . in the entire world, not once, but twice. And so we have to, when we think about these unbelievably powerful technologies, we have to really lean on the multilateral organisations that were, in fact, founded after the calamity of the 20th century, whether it’s the European Union, the OECD or, of course, NATO. And we did a lot of work in the commission in this area to figure out.

Our first conference talked so much about getting out of our silos in the United States. This conference is all about working together and getting out of our silos globally, to protect the important laws and rules-based system which protects our freedom worldwide. We now have potential . . . potential and actual adversaries who are harnessing this technology with urgency. Who see its power. And for us today – and you’ve already seen it, we’ve had unbelievable panellists talking about cooperation and all the work they’re doing in this area – it’s truly my privilege to be able to be here to talk with the leaders of NATO. We have with us . . . there you are, Deputy Secretary [General] Mircea Geoană of NATO; Mat Cormann, the Secretary General of the OECD. And with me, last but not at all least in fact, the European Union Ambassador to the United States, Stavros Lambr-- . . . Lambrinidis.

STAVROS LAMBRINIDIS [European Union Ambassador to the United States]: Excellent. 

SAFRA CATZ: There we go. And so it is really exciting. And I’ve asked them basically to start off, we’ll start off with some comments about how their organisations are really working on integrating these technologies and dealing with the opportunities and the challenges, and to the extent they want to also share with us how they’re working to avoid duplicating efforts, because time is of the essence and we don’t want to be spending time, spending time on doing things that are already handled. So let me start with the [Deputy] Secretary General of NATO for this question.

MIRCEA GEOANĂ [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Thank you so very much Commissioner Catz, dear Safra for having me from Brussels. Also, congratulations for Secretary General Cormann for your recent appointment, we look forward to engaging with the OECD very actively. And Ambassador Lambrinidis, the EU is the natural partner for NATO. It is not the first time that we are and I am engaging with the commission. We learned a lot from your reports. We are trying to adapt some of your recommendations to the specific work that we do here in NATO.

But let me say just a few words, trying to answer your question Safra. It’s obvious that we are in the midst of the most intense technological race, not only in recent history, but also, probably, in centuries. And our competitors are moving fast in their effort to develop and use new technologies and many times with disregard of our values and for ethical principles. It’s the case of Russia and China, which are pursuing the development and adoption of AI at pace, with little regard for human rights and data privacy. And China explicitly intends and has the ambition on becoming the world’s leading power in Artificial Intelligence, the next decade. So this is a very highly-competitive environment. And our potential adversaries – I mentioned states, but also non-state – do not hesitate to use these technologies to undermine our security, and also to seek to undermine our democracies, our institutions, our values.

And this is why, I think, the three organisations that the commission has invited on this panel are exactly based on the cradle of the common values that the world system was founded after the Second World War. And this is also so very much important because this is also about the trust of our citizens in the very institutions of democracy. So the first observation I would make: for the first time in many, many, many, many decades, we cannot take our technological edge for granted. So we need to move fast and even faster. Secondly, we need to move together and work together without duplication and without unnecessary competition, with likeminded partners who share our values. Because it’s obvious that no industry, no country or organisation alone can cope with the risks and challenges that we are all facing [inaudible].

So cooperation is key, not only to develop new technologies more quickly, to strengthen our industrial base, but also to protect against adversarial technology transfers. And this is a topic that we have to really take very seriously. It also enables us to forge ahead on the basis, as Safra mentioned, of clear ethical norms and the respect of international law. And NATO is playing our role in this. It sets out our ways in which we work with partners, academia and the private sector, including start-ups, to develop [inaudible] technologies more quickly and strengthen our industrial base. I’m chairing the Innovation Board in NATO on behalf of Jens Stoltenberg and I know that sometimes this is not an easy proposition in big organisations, multinational organisations, but this is an effort that is indispensable for our continued success and the protection of the one billion people living in the 30 NATO Allies.

Just recently, President Biden and all our leaders at the summit of NATO in Brussels on June 14th, our leaders took important decisions that will help further increase our ability as an Alliance to deal with emerging and disruptive technologies. And of course, we are taking decisions as we speak. We are launching a Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic – or DIANA – with centres in Europe and North America. Then I will promote transatlantic civil-military cooperation where all Allies, all Allies, big or small, can harness new industry and technology and work with start-ups in academia on the next generation of technology for our militaries. This accelerator will also involve screening investors and building a trusted capital database to ensure that our technological innovations are funded by secure and reliable sources.

Allies also have agreed to establish an Innovation Fund, which is different from a traditional VC fund, but through this instrument, Allies who wish will be able to opt in and invest in start-ups working on dual-use and emerging technologies. These new initiatives will open up perspectives for cooperation with our partners, of course, with the EU, the strategic partner of NATO, but also with the OECD. And I’m privileged to be on this panel together with these two great organisations. Of the new technologies we are looking at – and of course, we are looking at many of those – but AI is obviously the most pervasive, especially when combined with other technologies like big data, autonomy or biotechnologies. So AI is a priority for our Alliance. AI will revolutionise the way in which we defend ourselves in all areas.

And also we are now – and this is important also for what Safra was mentioning – making sure that we complement each other and help each other in crafting the norms and the . . . the way in which we are tackling these issues. We are currently finalising in NATO our landmark strategy of AI, with principles of responsible use for AI in defence, and this will be at the core of this strategy. And I know that the recommendations of the commission in many, many ways are hinting directly to the need for transatlantic cooperation on this topic. For us in NATO and I think also worldwide, this is unprecedented, because we are defining those principles, drawing on the examples of other Allies and international organisations.

So the commission’s reports and recommendations inform many of our decisions on AI and beyond. Also as we did with the OECD recommendations of the Council on AI – I know the Secretary General will be talking about this in a minute – also we’ll be looking, of course, to many other dimensions of new technologies, when it comes to autonomous systems, we will include our work undertaken also with the UN. We intend to communicate openly about these principles to build public trust, especially when it comes to the use of these technologies in the military and defence environment that are sensitive and sometimes have a special kind of connotation for portions of our public. This is also part of the broader effort to strengthen the resilience of our societies.

NATO-EU cooperation is a must. It strengthens the EU, it strengthens NATO. And I’m very happy that President von der Leyen and Secretary General Stoltenberg, we decided to introduce new technologies and resilience on the topics of our further cooperation between NATO and the European Union. So in a nutshell, here we are. We welcome the proposal launched by the EU for a new transatlantic agenda for global cooperation, including on new technologies. And we stand ready to step up our cooperation with OECD, of course, with the private sector and academia. So let me tell you a final word about something that I think is behind all this. Safra, you mentioned global competition, but I strongly believe – I come from Romania and I lived half of my life in communist Romania – and somebody telling me, now, having found freedom and being members of NATO and the European Union, that authoritarian regimes, closed societies could be, in the end, be more performant than our open societies, with our innovation ecosystems, with the freedom of our citizens, with our incredible universities, with our vibrant research and development and talent and freedom.

There’s no way in which our adversaries could overtake us, if – and only if – we step up our game, we understand where we also have vulnerabilities and cooperate, all of us together, the ones who share the values of freedom, of liberty, of democracy. There’s no way in which we’ll not be prevailing once again, once again and once again, there’s a history of NATO, of the EU and the OECD are ample proof of. Thank you so much for having me. I’m looking forward to listening to the rest of the colleagues on the panel. And of course, if there’ll be questions, I’ll be more than happy to entertain them. 

SAFRA CATZ: Thank you very, very much. Many of your comments hit unbelievably close to home, my dad, too, lived under communism and escaped to freedom. And for those of us who really cherish our freedoms, we see these new technologies sometimes taking freedoms away. We are, we . . . we do feel this incredible urgency. I will say the commission had enough audacity that even transatlantic was not enough and that we recommend a Atlantic and Pacific Strategic Technology Partnership, so that we can work together to defend our values around the world. Let me pose the same question to Secretary General Cormann, to share his thoughts on the OECD and the work they’re doing and focussing on. 

MATHIAS CORMANN [OECD Secretary General]: Thank you very much, Safra, and it’s a great privilege to be on this panel together with NATO and the European Union and what a compelling contribution Mircea has just made, particularly in his closing remarks. And the OECD is an organisation that brings together 38 likeminded, market-based democracies from around the world. Our mission is the preservation of individual liberty and to increase the economic and social well-being of our people across all OECD countries and beyond. And so when it comes to emerging technologies and their governance, you know, it is a key strategic priority for us as an organisation, as it is for our member countries. These are technologies which come with many exciting benefits and opportunities.

I mean, they’ll be key to reversing the long-standing deterioration in trend productivity growth, for example. But they also, of course, come with new and evolving risks and challenges and difficult policy choices. Emerging technologies have transformative cross-sectoral and transborder impacts. So it’s going to be very important, in particular for likeminded, market-based democracies to work together in an internationally coordinated fashion, on coordinated policy approaches, to best seize the opportunities and also to best manage some of the associated challenges with the digital transformation that is underway.

Certainly from our perspective, it’s our intention to continue to harness the OECD’s strengths by using our convening power across the Atlantic and Pacific, our shared commitment to democratic values, and our ability to drive consensus on standards, to foster cooperation and collective solutions relating to some of those evolving challenges related to emerging technologies. We have made some significant progress already, as was just mentioned, in particular, for example, in relation to Artificial Intelligence.

Back in 2019, we set the first intergovernmental standard on Artificial Intelligence, the OECD AI Principles, which have been adopted now by 46 countries so far, and which were also the basis for the G20 Artificial Intelligence Principles. We also see the need for a common approach in regulatory and policy treatment of blockchain technology. We have developed high level principles that we’ll be going for a public consultation on this later this year. We’ve set standards around communications infrastructure as well, most recently in our recommendation on broadband connectivity, adopted earlier this year. That’s a recommendation championed by the United States, which is a key reference for policymakers who are harnessing competition and innovation to close digital divides and ensure resilient networks

. And the OECD also brings countries together to advance measurement and analysis on difficult tech issues where a robust evidence base is critical. For example, our work on the security of telecommunication infrastructure in the context of the 5G network rollout and the development of transparency reporting frameworks for terrorists and violent extremist content online, to just name a few. The OECD also fosters international dialogue around crosscutting tech issues.

Our recent Global Forum on Digital Security for Prosperity being one case in point. Beyond pure digital tech, another priority that we are focussing on is neurotechnology. It’s a technology which offers great promise for helping to improve mental health, but it also raises significant ethical, legal and societal questions. So our recommendations on responsible innovation in neurotechnology provides a set of high-level values and establishes processes that can help guide the future development of this technology. More generally, our goal is to help countries establish a flexible and agile business environment which supports economic resilience and sustains innovation. Responsible governance of technology is a key part of advancing that goal, and we will continue to support international collaboration on this issue. 

SAFRA CATZ: Thank you so much. It’s an interesting time, really, as we all focus in – and we’ve had a very exciting June, actually, when the US and the European Union met, announced the European Union-US Trade and Technology Council – so, so exciting, in fact, Secretary of Commerce today, Raimondo, mentioned it in her talk about how important the work with the European Union is. So maybe, Ambassador, you could really share with us some of your thoughts in this area and how to really harness these technologies and continue peacefully?

STAVROS LAMBRINIDIS: Sure, Safra, thanks. And I think you started out brilliantly when you described a little bit how the . . . how the 20th century worked. The EU was created 71 years ago, 70 years ago, through its first iteration, the Coal and Steel Community. Many people look at us today and they look at the biggest, most prosperous, most peaceful region in the world. They don’t realise that we started out trying to stop ourselves from our worst demons, which was the Second World War. And what we did is, in fact, try to harness together the raw materials, coal and steel, that created the weapons that killed us, so that we could ensure that we would never do this again. In some ways, nothing with AI and today’s technology, with what I’m describing back then, but in some ways, the EU does realise both the great potential of new technology, but historically as well, the great detriments that can come unless we work together.

So we have worked together on new technologies and Artificial Intelligence from the beginning. And I want to jump directly into your question. What it is that we can do together and what areas it is that we can work together on? So the first thing that we have to be able to do together is to set the standards for these new technologies. So they are being set as we speak, in Shenyang, China is using AI and voice recognition and facial recognition to repress people. We don’t do that stuff. We normally don’t do that stuff. We’ve at times come close to sliding into things like that, when we fight terrorism and we try to figure out what the right balance is. But as democracies, it’s a debate we have all the time, and we correct our course if we take the wrong course. In authoritarian societies, you have no such debate, no such checks and balances. So first thing, we’ve got to set those standards because someone’s going to set them for us if we don’t.

Second thing is, we have to look at the values that many people have mentioned and see how they translate in concrete laws and regulations that we can place now, before the issue gets out of control. Many people have mentioned that technology is running real fast, and that’s absolutely true. The problem is that sometimes it’s running faster than our democratically elected senators and congressmen and members of parliament can follow with looking at the consequences and trying to put some democratic controls on it. Right? Or . . . and to do so not just as bureaucrats, as it were, but together with industry, you know, working together hand in hand, and with scientists and others.

So when you look at regulation, the European Union, even back in the early 2010s, with a General Data Protection Regulation, came out and said, ‘You know what? Personal data is a huge thing. It gets generated all the time through new technologies. It is the new gold. It cannot be allowed to be unregulated because, there’s everyone out there, from governments to criminals to security services to authoritarian governments, indeed, who want to have access to that data. We have to make sure that citizens trust the new technologies, because if they don’t, we’re going to have them, but they’re not going to be used.’ Second thing we have to work together on is . . . or third thing, if you like, in addition to looking at the values and things like [inaudible]… to work towards AI itself and . . . and the legal principles and the values principles that should govern it.

I am very proud, as a European, that in addition to simply talking about all these issues, we came out with a very specific legislative proposal, Safra, a couple of months ago, on how it is that we in the EU want to regulate the use of AI. And it’s very interesting, because we are considered to be sometimes these terrible regulators, right? Those Europeans, all they can think of is to sit down and kill innovation and do all these things, right? Well, in fact, guess what? Everyone in this country, after we came up with the GDPR, almost everyone said, ‘Oh, my God, we’re really concerned.’ Virtually everyone today, having seen the real problems that can come from the misuse of personal data, they’re coming and saying, ‘Hey, how can we do it ourselves?’ There are states in this country – California is in the forefront, but others as well – that are moving, and Congress as well is discussing it. So, you know, we have to . . . so, with AI we said we’re going to set rules – and I’m happy to discuss this later with you if you’re interested, I don’t want to take more time in this introduction outlining what they are – but they are very limited, you know, very non-regulatory in many ways, very focussed on working with industry.

The fourth thing we have to work on is actually securing those networks together. So when it comes to 5G technologies, when it comes to cybersecurity and cyber-attacks, when it comes to, you know, ensuring that we have resilient supply chains, all those things have to be worked together. And I think we have to work together and we can. And we have committed, as you mentioned, in the Trade and Technology Council to do so, which is why I think Gina Raimondo mentioned it, because it’s not just a little announcement we made. It’s going to be a big changing of . . . of the international scene.

And I think [inaudible] we have to work on promoting innovation and ensuring that there are rules in place that allow for small and medium companies who today get flushed out by the big giants in technology, to be able to innovate and play at a fair playing field. That is not always the case, it’s very often not the case. And we have to think about how we have rules in place that allow for that innovation, because our economies and societies, the open economies and societies that we have are based on free competition. I would emphasise climate, new technologies are going to change everything . . . everything, from the way that we do agriculture to the way that we heat our buildings, to the way that we run our cars and our buses and our trains.

And there’s absolutely no way in the world that I’m willing to let that competitive advantage fall into the wrong hands, instead of working together in this fora. Let me close, Safra, however . . . however, by emphasising this: all my life – as a Greek, I actually myself lived through a dictatorship as a young kid – I have been just simply a fanatic for open societies and democracies. At the same time, it is supremely important, first of all, for me as a European, as a democrat, to be able to look at my own democracy straight in the eye and see where I’ve made mistakes. Not every problem that I have in my democracy with hatred and division and splintering and inability of people to talk to each other is because some Chinese or some Russian is disinforming me. It’s because I am not taking care of my own house.

So we have to be able to do this. We have to be able to do it right. Second point, it’s great that we’re talking here together, NATO, EU, OECD. But guess what? There are tens of countries out there in the world that are not authoritarian countries and that do not belong in our immediate communities of democracies. They are not, however, anti-democratic. Many . . . very often they sit on the fence. They’re trying to figure out where to go. And there are sirens out there trying to affect them. So for me to be sitting in this room and to be acting like I know best, better than anyone else and, ‘Here’s what democracies and values do,’ and to be ignoring all these countries in the debate, is a fatal mistake. We have to find a way, once we get our house in order, once we determine what our rules are, to be able to approach effectively and build coalitions north, south, east, west, with countries around the world. And if we do that, I will be very, very optimistic. 

SAFRA CATZ: How amazing. How amazing all three of you are, this is . . . this is, I have to tell you, as a member of the commission, we could not have wished for members . . . for you on this panel to be putting out these kind of messages, because we agree. We agree with what you’re doing. We agree with the urgency. It is so true with the great power and the great capabilities do come greater responsibilities. And that is really this message. I’ll tell you, I know we could literally sit here forever. And I have an absolute pile of questions. But before we do that, I actually want to give the opportunity for those of you in this room – hopefully the team is not freaked out when I do this – because these are the important messages, so I hope there are mics coming quickly because . . . oh, great. If we could have some lights up.

And give you an opportunity to ask questions of these incredible leaders who are sending a truly critical message about, not only cooperation within their own organisation and with all their organisations, but even with countries who are not members. This is a critical moment in our history, in the history of freedom-loving people. And unfortunately, many of us have seen what happens when freedom and openness and democracy is lost. And this technology is so powerful that if we aren’t organised together as free peoples, we will actually lose the thing that is most important to humanity.

OK, so let me open up for questions. You have . . . you have three unbelievable leaders to ask. OK? I’ve scared them, I’ve scared the team. No, we have such a superb . . . such a superb group of people here. OK, well then I’m going to ask some of the harder questions. You know what, Stavros since you just . . . you’re here, you get . . . you, you are . . . a question that I will ask, I will . . . I will get an opportunity to ask you first. You know, how do you see the European Defence Agency in dealing with this whole area of AI and participating with other agencies, because this is ultimately the National Security Commission, and of course, security often is defence and military?

STAVROS LAMBRINIDIS: Yes, indeed. And thank you for the question. So . . . so, the European Defence Agency has created and has issued now a strategic plan for investments in Artificial Intelligence. What . . . what the European Defence Agency is, is fundamentally the organisation in Europe that coordinates all the research of . . . and the development of new technologies of our European Union member states. And Europe itself, the EU itself in the past few years, has begun working much closer together as EU, not just simply as member states – who are the ones who have the militaries, of course, the EU itself doesn’t have its own military – but coordinating it together so that we can have a whole bunch of projects, that we put a collective funding and mindpower together. And one of them is AI.

So you’re going to see a lot of programmes and a lot of concrete deliverables coming out of that. I’m not going to claim we are as advanced as the US, probably, the Defence Department is on this as EU – many of our member states are quite advanced – but now we are harnessing this collective member state power and knowledge because, indeed, as in virtually everything, so in defence and security, we Europeans have realised – which is why we got together, which is why have the EU –  that, you know, in the world as it’s developing now with the big players out there, some big good ones and some big bad ones, there’s no way we’re going to be able to compete unless we are united. So this is what you’re going to be seeing, Safra, in the next . . . in the next few years when it comes to security and defence. 

SAFRA CATZ: Well, let me ask a similar question, frankly, to Deputy Secretary General Geoană, about how NATO is prioritising the use of and the adoption of these critical technologies and whether they are going to bring them into joint exercises so the different countries can work more closely together and really experience the power of technology and of AI?

MIRCEA GEOANĂ: Thank you for the question. And this is, indeed, a fascinating conversation. Let me just have a small observation at the forefront. We are speaking of . . . of new technologies of AI, biotech, resilience, blockchain, climate change. Everything we are discussing about are transformative processes in human societies around the world that all of them have also a security dimension to those. So that’s why also, NATO, we are in the business of defending one billion people, do deterrence and defence, and we do it well, but also we are now, in a way, embracing a much broader concept of security itself.

That’s why our leaders have decided for us to work on new technologies. There are a couple of these technologies that we believe are, in a way, not more important, but more impactful in terms of security and defence than others. We talked, of course, about AI and big data – this is where we’re moving very, very fast and very, very much looking forward to cooperate with the EU and the OECD on this. We are also looking a lot into quantum computing, it’s going to change a lot of things in our societies and in defence and security. We are looking at biotechnologies and AI also has an impact on these ones. We are also looking into space, which is another area of not only great power competition, but it’s also becoming a very crowded and very competitive and very, sometimes, dangerous place to operate in.

We are also speaking about human enhancement, which is another reality; autonomous systems; and, of course, something which is a little bit more traditional, but still novel, which is hypersonic, super-gliding and these kind of things that are still in the realm of R&D done by governments. For the rest of everything I have said, the private sector, in proportion of 90 percent - nine zero percent, Safra, -[inaudible] everything we also use in defence of security is today produced by the private sector, by academia. So what we are doing in NATO, and what I’m doing also as chair of the Innovation Board, we are trying to harness the innovation ecosystem in NATO, because not all Allies, not all nations in NATO have the same capabilities.

We want to make sure we keep interoperable the Allied nations, as . . . and also as the Ambassador has mentioned, we are reaching out to our partners around the world because we cannot do it alone. I’m also, on behalf of the Sec Gen, investing a lot in NATO’s partnerships, not only institutional partnerships like EU or OECD or UN or others, we have more than 40 nations around the world which are our partners, including four highly-capable nations in Asia-Pacific, NATO Partners Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the Republic of Korea, that we also entertain a lot of technology conversations. So what I’m just trying to say, that we have . . . we are obliged in a way to harness our innovation ecosystems. I agree, again, with the Ambassador have to put our democratic house in order before going and preaching to the others and convincing others that are still on the fence that our systems, our system is better.

And let me say just something in the end, because the three organisations that you have invited for this summit are also very complimentary, because we like it or not – sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t – EU has the power of regulation. That’s a very powerful instrument, like, of course, the US Congress has and many other governments do have. What NATO has –  and I think the OECD has, the Secretary General, of course, is more attuned to these things – we have also the power of standardisation, in terms of when NATO decides on a standard on something which relates to defence and security, it almost automatically becomes the gold standard for that issue.

That’s why we wanted AI strategy to be among the first ones we are developing now in NATO, just because the power of standard-setting is also a very important part of the . . . of the broader ecosystem of our . . . of our societies and of our values. 

SAFRA CATZ: Secretary General Cormann, maybe you could . . . I think we have a little feedback, maybe you could continue to talk about the standard-setting process and how you want to deal with the deployment of AI, and some of your thoughts on this as we seek to really operationalise the standards, the ways, the norms for AI, since you are really a standards-setting body?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Yes. I mean, so I mean, firstly, standards mean very little if they’re not operationalised or implemented. So our digital economy work is very much focussed not just on standards, but making it possible for countries to use them. One key action that we’ve been undertaking was the launch of the Policy Observatory, it’s a unique platform with a multistakeholder network of AI experts, which provides a wealth of AI indicators, analysis and country information, such as the EC-OECD database of national strategies and policies. It allows side by side comparisons and benchmarking that incentivises a race to the top.

We are also developing practical guidance for achieving trustworthy AI, which, you know, in addition to the AI systems classification framework that I mentioned earlier, we’ve just published a report on Tools for Trustworthy AI, which underpins an interactive catalogue of tools, such as process guidelines and technical standards. [Inaudible] a developer will be able to find open source tools very soon to fight bias in AI systems in just a couple of clicks. We’re also mainstreaming the OECD AI principles across policy areas, for example, our forthcoming business and finance outlook will focus on AI this year.

Another example, our programme of work on AI and work innovation, productivity and skills supported by the German federal government in bringing new evidence on AI diffusion and impacts on the labour market. And finally, I mean, the OECD AI Principles also form a cornerstone of the global partnership on AI, championed by France and Canada and where the US became a founding member along with the European Commission, for which the OECD hosts the secretariat. We anticipate strong synergies between that technical research, practical guidance and use, case studies in the OECD’s analytical and normative work. We take part in those GP Artificial Intelligence Working Groups, and as an observer we can weigh in on all of the research priorities. It’d be interesting to affiliate additional centres of expertise and leverage the work underway in many of, you know, our member countries, and, you know, we’d be very excited to support that. 

SAFRA CATZ: Thank you so very much. I’m going to give an opportunity for the audience to get involved here, to the extent that you have questions. It’s very hard to see from up here. So . . . oh, yes, please. And oh, I’m supposed to remind you, even though I know, your affiliation . . . your name and affiliation, and I think you need to wait for a mic. Perfect. Thank you so much. 

CHRIS KIRCHHOFF [Schmidt Futures]: Thanks, Safra. My name is Chris Kirchhoff, I’m with Schmidt Futures. This is an incredibly distinguished panel of people that are part of a powerful community of nations, and it’s a community of nations that’s really only one or two generations, as you mentioned, removed from incredible trauma. And yet, we find ourselves at this moment where democracies are competing with autocracies in an unexpected way. I would love to know from the panellists their own personal historical perspective. Is there any lessons to be learned that we should be mindful of as we move forward, as to how we got behind? 

SAFRA CATZ: Who would like to start? You know what, Stavros, you obviously had a personal experience. 

STAVROS LAMBRINIDIS: That’s true. Well, I mean, I . . . look, I don’t think we’ve fallen behind. I mean, I’m not . . . that’s not the point I’m making. I think that because we are strong democracies, we have when . . . when new technologies come in and create cracks in our democratic system, we are immediately alerted to it because our press is alerted to it, people alert us to it, civil society does. And therefore we have a crisis on our hands that we have to deal with. I think other countries who don’t have our democratic setting, our open society setting, are most likely going to be facing major crises, including values crises from their citizens in the near future.

They’re not facing them today, because today they are simply ramming along really fastly-produced, sometimes, in fact, even stolen . . . I mean, an issue that we have as Western innovators is how do we deal with the IP theft and the forced technology transfers and all these things. In many ways, look, when it comes to China, because it has been mentioned a lot, I saw in the morning as well, I would say one fundamental thing. What I expect the European Union to do and the United States to do and NATO and the OECD and others is, first of all, to run faster than China.

So we’re all sitting back and going, ‘Oh, my God, these are terrible things that are happening. Oh, look at this. You know, how do you stop it?’ Well, the fact of the matter is, stop whining and run faster. And that means that you have to identify all these technologies are supremely important, you have to invest massively in them, also giving incentives for the big innovators, for the smaller companies who right now cannot break through because perhaps they’re being choked by, you know, in a competition ecosystem that is quite repressive. Let’s give . . . let’s find how it is that our, by definition, advanced innovators in Europe and the US are going to be winning the day in all the technologies we need. And the second thing you need to do, once you run faster, is you have to protect the runners.

You have to make sure that, indeed, what you actually do produce is not stolen, is not misused, does not get exported to be used by others in a way that can be harnessed for ill as opposed to for good. All these things require bilateral measures, sometimes – and with the United States, we agreed in the Trade Technology Council we’re going to be coordinating together on export controls, on foreign direct investment screenings, [inaudible] of national security and all that stuff. But it also requires working with multilateral organisations, the World Trade Organisation, others, to be setting those rules.

So you need to be carrying a stick for those who don’t want to play by the international rules, but you also need to be building those rules and building those alliances. Now, is this happening? You betcha. I mean, one thing that I don’t like about big conversations like this is when people just remain at the aspirational level. ‘Oh, it’s values, oh we have to . . .’ yeah, I mean, yes, absolutely. But we’re already working on these things. It is not like we’re just thinking about it. We’ve been working on them for years, both on the values regulations and on the innovation environment and on funding massively now in Europe at least, our post-Covid recovery to focus on digital and to focus on climate. And I can guarantee you that in a few years’ time, we will be running faster. And if we work better together, even faster. And we will protect the runners as well. 

SAFRA CATZ: That’s fantastic and, you know, very heartening because  . . . because you’re right, we’re . . . we have the ability working together to win, you know? Right and might, but also the . . . the, really, what the human condition really yearns for: freedom. And that allows the most incredible success, as it has for decades. And really the key for us, I think, involves working together, really keeping our eye on the ball and understanding what it is we’re fighting for. I invite my other panellists, if they want to make a comment. Yes, Secretary General [inaudible].

MATHIAS CORMANN:    Just, just very . . . just very briefly. I mean, I just want to really endorse what Ambassador Lambrinidis has just said. I mean, I have great confidence in the capacity of the free world to compete successfully, to be competitive and to compete successfully. And I mean, I would not necessarily accept the premise of the question, of having fallen behind, but, you know, free . . . the free people of the world, working together, pushing ahead, you know, driving innovation, collaborating, coordinating, I mean, I’m very, very confident that we will continue to successfully compete and to advance and to lift living standards for people all around the world along the way. 

SAFRA CATZ: Thank you, Secretary General. OK, it’s . . . any other questions? Oh, I see questions. I think I see one over there, but I can’t tell. 

TIM GRAYSON [DARPA]: Hi, my name is Tim Grayson, I’m from DARPA – Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency. So, I’m really enamoured with a comment that the Ambassador just made about needing to run faster in this global competition. You know, don’t just complain about what other people are doing, run faster. What I’m curious about, also, in the spirit of tangible implementation, the . . . things like the Belt and Road are examples of just going out and building infrastructure that ends up creating dependencies in the process. Instead of saying, ‘Ooh, that’s bad’, do you think there’s a coalition opportunity not to just go build something that competes head to head, but, to use your metaphor, make a better road, you know, allow partners in free . . . free parts of the world to run faster themselves, as opposed to saying, ‘Yeah, you do it my way, we’ll just build it for you’? I’m curious about your thoughts there about actually implementing, this kind of coalition of standards are a start, but actually creating some of this enabling infrastructure?

STAVROS LAMBRINIDIS: Very good question. Very quickly, yes. And I’m very heartened that both at the G7 level and, of course, at the EU-US summit on the 15th June, connectivity – that’s a buzzword to talk, to . . . sort of, discuss all these investments around the world, from roads to digital to everything else – was on the top of the agenda. And we have agreed, indeed, to work together. Now, you know, many of those investments around the world are investments that don’t have anything sinister about them. They are . . . you have countries that simply are not that rich, that need quick cash to build a quick bridge, usually in the lifespan of an elected president’s time, so the president can say, ‘I’ve promised a bridge, I built a bridge, vote for me again.’

And in many instances, if you are a country that has cheap, subsidised money that comes from a, you know, a fully-subsidised banking sector, no . . . no constraints on competition or anything like that, you can come in and pump that money faster. So that’s the reality, though. And we have to do a better job in ensuring that our companies can compete on a level playing field when it comes to bidding for many of these projects. Right? And the big discussion then, at this stage, is how it . . . how it is that we set some standards on what a sustainable investment is – so both governments around the world and their peoples know that, ‘If I don’t get that, if I get the other thing, then I am consciously getting a debt trap, I am consciously getting a badly, poorly built road, I’m consciously getting all those things that I shouldn’t really be wanting to be getting, and I’m probably conscious of getting corruption as well and environmental degradation.’ So setting those standards, we’re working on it right now.

And second thing is, ensuring that we give incentives to international financial institutions and also to private major funds to . . . to be able to support and to mitigate risk for many of our companies. Today, there’s no real coordination on this. The third thing is to ensure that our own public funding . . . the EU is the number one development aid donor in the world by far, about 57 percent of all development aid – aid, not debt-traps, not loans – comes from the EU. The US is the second biggest donor. There are other countries follow. Make sure that we get our agencies working together so that we identify what the needs of other countries are before the debt-trappers come in.

And, you know, all this work is happening and it is, in my view, effective. We’re seeing in a number of countries around the world where Belt and Road got in initially, that their people are going and saying, ‘Wait a second, maybe this wasn’t that good of a deal. What’s happening here?’ So it’s working, right? And then there’s a very small percentage of all those cases in which you really have a geostrategic interest in place. The danger that someone’s going to come and take over a rare earth mine, or they will buy a port that was supremely important. That requires more of a geostrategic cooperation between the EU, the US, NATO, others. And that Safra is . . . is the second part of the discussion that will be happening very soon. 

SAFRA CATZ: This is really wonderful to hear. I personally could be here all afternoon, frankly, it is so encouraging to have these leaders talking about working together, how to really ultimately capitalise on the capabilities that have come, but also understanding the geopolitical impact. And I want to thank you all I . . . I feel I’ve learned an enormous amount. And I think we might have made some . . . some friends for a long time here. I’ve really enjoyed this. 

STAVROS LAMBRINIDIS: Speaking of friends, [inaudible] speaking of friends, [inaudible] I, I just see you . . . I just see you up there on the screen, but we haven’t met for many, many years. You’re such a remarkable reader. Mat, we haven’t met, I hope very soon, but Mircea we go ways back in different hats and different jobs, so great to see you. 

SAFRA CATZ: It is… it is really wonderful. And I’m delighted that the commission could actually bring this group together, even virtually, next time all together, which would be even more wonderful. With that, we are going to break for lunch. However, I want to remind you, we have an unbelievable – you thought this was great, I thought this was great, I want to thank our panellists – this afternoon will be amazing. We have, live and in person, Secretary of State Blinken. We have National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. And Secretary of Defence Austin, coming in addition to another enormous number of truly phenomenal panellists. So let me just ask to thank our panellists today. Thank you. Thank you all. And . . . they want us back in less than 20 minutes, so we’re going to have to eat fast. Thank you, all of you.