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Event Recap December 7, 2020

Event recap | At the crossroads of emerging technologies and security during the pandemic

By Henry Westerman

On Thursday, December 3, the Embassy of Finland and the Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center convened a partially public, partially private roundtable to discuss the impact technology on contemporary society, politics, and transatlantic relations. The roundtable sought to consider specific policy steps that could build trust in governments, corporations, and technologies alike, both in the United States and Europe, so as to overcome the numerous technological challenges of the present and issues poised for the future.

The opening section of the event featured a panel discussion, moderated by Dr. David Bray, director of the GeoTech Center. The panel featured Mr. Risto Siilasmaa, founder and chairman of F-Secure and former chairman of Nokia from 2012 to 2020, and Dame Wendy Hall, PhD, esteemed computer scientist and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the GeoTech Center. Both experts, being thought leaders in the field of technology within the United Kingdom and Finland, respectively, discussed the ways that corporations and governments alike have struggled with technology issues, especially those exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, they noted how the pandemic has struck at a unique moment in which the global Internet is both mature and facing a particular set of challenges. In a sense, the pandemic has served as a global experiment for how the digital world can handle crises, and in many ways, that world has only partially risen to the challenge.

Following the fruitful fireside chat, attendees were divided into a number of private breakout rooms for more in depth conversations on both the issues at hand and actionable steps that the GeoTech Center, along with world leaders, can take to solve them. These rooms were not recorded. The event served as a call to action for leaders to identify and fight the threats of a COVID-19 “infodemic” and the growing divisions within the “splinternet.” A full policy brief based off this event will be published in January 2021.

Watch the full video linked above for more insight from technology leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.

The GeoTech Center champions positive paths forward that societies can pursue to ensure new technologies and data empower people, prosperity, and peace.

Related Experts: David Bray, Wendy Hall