Highlights from Brussels Tech Summit: How to be Intelligent and Responsible Business in the Digital World

07 May 2018

Trust and responsible digital behaviour drove the 7 May Brussels Tech Summit, with the growing impact of AI, fintech and the Internet of Things held up to scrutiny from an audience of over 1000 politicians, regulators, start-ups and companies.

Access Partnership’s Simona Lipstaite was among the digital enthusiasts and has the highlights from the four key summit events.

Intelligent Enterprise Unleashed was the Tech Vision 2018 outlined by Yves Bernaert, a senior managing director for technology at strategy firm Accenture, in the opening plenary session. He argued that the top five themes on the agenda of policy-makers, citizens and industry are:

  • Citizen AI — improving AI to benefit business and society
  • Extended Reality — the end of distance
  • Data Veracity — the importance of trust
  • Frictionless Business — built to partner at scale
  • Internet of Thinking — creating intelligent distributed systems

At a panel discussion on Responsible Business in Today’s Digital World speakers were asked what a responsible business looks like in the online space. Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake argued that every business should actively commit to advancing the rule of law online, and that policy-makers have the responsibility to enshrine minimum standards. Merely relying on a loose concept of “ethics”, she said, is not enough to ensure the rule of law and human rights will be respected in the digital world. According to Schaake, to a large extent companies have failed the test of self-regulation.

A session on FinTech saw Peter Kerstens from DG FISMA in the European Commission, arguing that the two main driving themes in the years to come will be digitisation and sustainability. The financial sector has the largest IT sector in the world, accounting for around 700 billion USD per year. Cecile Andre Leruste from Accenture talked about the differences between fintech-fin, which works mainly with customers, and fintech-tech, which focuses on banks, including through technologies like cloud. Larry E. Thompson, representing the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), further argued that even with the rise of digital challengers and an evolving fintech industry, banks are not going to be replaced any time soon. However, he said, banks and other companies that are not embracing cloud computing technologies are putting themselves at a disadvantage.

As European policy-makers work towards increasing citizen trust in the Internet of Things, the CEO of Firmalyzer, Zahra Khani, delved into the importance of anticipating and reacting to security breaches, since connected devices provide a much wider field for potential attack than traditional IT systems. Even security solutions such as two-factor verification are not always effective, since hackers have developed ways of stealing secure codes sent to users through text messages. The session further explored the responsibility of the users of IoT to protect their devices, and the role of policy-makers in educating their citizens to do so.

The day included a series of presentations and workshops on issue areas such as building a blockchain ecosystem for Europe, AI in public service, learning basic coding, better tech through gender diversity and a meetup of Minecraft fans.

A full day of innovation was justly rounded off by Access Partnership trying out the Augmented Reality glasses at the Microsoft HoloLens stand, and a full Virtual Reality experience provided by Belgian education start-up Altheria Solutions.

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