One of the early highlights of DLD Munich 2018 was the panel with German Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD). He started his speech about Europe’s digital future with a little history lesson: “600 years ago Europe was the continent who went to all continents to conquer and explore the opportunities.” Gabriel asked: “What will historians write about today’s Europe, when it comes to Europe’s role in the digital age?”
The politician makes clear digitization not only reshapes every aspect of our economy, society and private lives. It also has wider economic and geopolitical implications, as seen, for instance with the current competition between US and Chinese tech industries to master next-generation technologies such as artificial intelligence and supercomputing. He contrasts the Silicon Valley Libertarian model of technology versus the Chinese model of government aided capitalism. Gabriel fears our liberal world order will be at a disadvantage in a new cold war in technology.
For Minister Gabriel the digital revolution presents great opportunities but also challenges for policy making on issues ranging from global business and trade relations, cyber and security policy, to human rights and international law. He pointed out that Europe has to take bigger risks: “We have to change our attitude and become a European actor!” Germany and Europe have a key interest in developing their own capabilities to persist in the digital world of tomorrow so we should embrace the digital revolution. “For uncertain times such as these we should be looking forward as far as possible”, says Gabriel.
Following Almar Latour (Dow Jones) hosted a panel with journalist Megan Murphy, Albert Wenger(Union Square Ventures) and Paul-Bernhard Kallen (Hubert Burda Media). Latour wanted to know what Europe’s role will be in this digital age? Albert Wenger said that much of what Europe is discussing now is about catching up to a US from 10 years ago. His wish is that Europe will develop its very own vision. Burda-CEO Paul-Bernhard Kallen is optimistic: “There are really great entrepreneurs, we have an interesting start-up scene in Berlin and Europe is good at banking regulation.” For Megan Murphy Data and privacy are very important fields and she hopes for a better digital education and unlimited Wi-Fi-access for everybody.