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On 27 September, the Competitiveness Council of the Council met in Brussels to discuss how to support the digitization of Europe, in particular as regards artificial intelligence, an area that it has enormous potential, but it must also face extreme global competition. AI, of course, works on the data. The unfortunate reality is that US technology companies control and exploit large amounts of European data, in turn monopolizing our digital economy.
This is why I, among other 16 executives, signed a letter to the Council ministers, who participated in a public policy debate and "competitiveness control" during Thursday's meeting, calling for a focus on these monopolies and unfair commercial practices. with which they manage, from the exclusion of third parties to spontaneous changes of terms and conditions to unjustified interference, just to name a few. There are alternatives to giving away data, and therefore sovereignty, something that I have emphasized as part of the National Digital Council in France and as the leader of numerous working groups focused on AI and privacy.
France, for example, has worked hard to attract the largest foreign investments in this space, opening artificial intelligence hubs while apparently ignoring the fact that Google, Apple, Facebook and the like do not pay taxes in the country, but still extract a significant wealth. This hurts innovation and many local startups work hard to improve the region. London, Paris, Berlin and Zug are popular technology destinations, but they are often overshadowed or expelled from the market due to dominant US players.
Google, of course, dominates the web search market, conducting 77% of all Internet searches and processing 400,000 per second by collecting significant amounts of data in the process. This domain means, as the AI specialist, Cedric Villani rightly said, that large foreign companies threaten Europe with "cybercolonization".
The online platforms that mediate purchases and sales account for 60% of private consumption of digital goods and services. Europe can not fail and blindly open its market to foreign platforms that only create monopolies. Their goal is to block both buyers and sellers in their ecosystem, to be the central point of most digital transactions. This level of centralization has become synonymous with dependence on technological oligopolies and lack of national sovereignty. Even "local" companies that we think we have worked for are often very dependent on US technology.
The good news is that every problem that exists with proprietary and closed markets and platforms can be solved easily with blockchain. Through the GDPR, Europe and France have already been the first to regulate data privacy, protecting both individual rights and digital sovereignty from foreign technology giants. The Blockchain – which actually developed faster in Europe than in Silicon Valley – can take another step forward and can turn Europe into the next Crypto Valley. Decentralized AI means that algorithms work directly on end user devices, preventing sensitive data from being sent to the cloud.
Moreover, rather than having an intermediary between the people who buy and offer digital goods and services, blockchain allows peer-to-peer markets. These markets often have no commissions, which means that all the value can be captured by buyers and sellers. On the other hand, when US technology giants hold a monopoly, they can charge significant commissions, force certain types of payments, and force end users into a myriad of other ways. With a decentralized approach, no person or company controls the content. Suppliers and buyers decide for themselves what should be included in the market.
It may be tempting to make Europe attractive to some of the biggest names in technology and artificial intelligence, but we must recognize what we are sacrificing by doing so. Many local start-ups can not compete because having a monopoly means you can, more or less, do what you want, even if it means engaging in unfair business practices or doing things that are good for your profits, but bad for real users . One way to avoid such cybercolonization, however, is to embrace decentralized technologies. They are the key to innovation and sovereignty.