As the first Tech Ambassador of Denmark, Mr. Casper Klynge spent the past few years immersed in Silicon Valley representing his government next to technology companies that provide goods and services that are used all over the world by billions of people.
He is back in Europe now, since March 2020, when he was appointed Vice-President of European Government Affairs at Microsoft, reporting to Microsoft’s Chief Legal Counsel, Mr. Brad Smith, and working in close collaboration with Mr. John Frank, who now heads Microsoft’s a dedicated office for UN relations, in New York.
Mr. Klynge’s clout does not come only from his enlightened views on the role of technology in the everyday life of citizens in Europe, but of his broad understanding of policy-making and how technology companies can and should work with governments and multilateral organisations.
With European policymakers addressing head-on the ethical aspects of the uses of artificial intelligence, and taking on the role of developing safeguards on emerging technologies what are the main challenges for policy makers in their quest to make tech companies accountable and how technology companies can engage with policymakers to ensure that the dialogue is open and advances the interests of European citizens? We discussed these and other questions in our exclusive interview with Mr. Klynge.
Maya Plentz interviews Mr. Casper Klynge, VP European Government Affairs, Microsoft
There is an on-going debate on why Europe does not produce as many unicorns as the US, but in his view that misses the bigger picture in terms of research output, where Europe stands out and, as he points out: “There is one misconception about Europe and that is, in terms of regulating technology, in terms of placing guardrails around technology, Europe is, in many ways, perhaps the global superpower, with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), in terms of protection and regulation on privacy issues. It began here in Europe and it’s now spreading across the world, many countries are adopting similar legislation.”
We spoke about the opportunities that artificial intelligence, AI, offer for improving healthcare, the most recent example being the response to COVID19 crisis, how quickly the international research community has established cooperation across borders, thanks in great part to advances in machine learning, and the good and ethical uses of AI.
Microsoft is engaging with European policy-makers in matters of AI for Peace and Security in cyberspace as well. The accelerated digitalization of all sectors of the economy is also guiding Microsoft’s agenda in the coming quarter.
Working in tandem with the UN, and looking at its recent publication on the countries’ digital readiness index, the attendant issues of cybersecurity that have to be informing this rapid process of economic transformation, and which countries need to invest more, are on the radar of Mr. Klinge’s and Microsoft.
“Governments have the ultimate responsibility, of course international organizations as well, but the private sector will have to step up to the plate and really deliver in cybersecurity as well”, stated Mr. Klynge, mentioning the work of the UN Open Ended Working Group, and the Government Group of Experts that address responsible norms of behaviour in cyberspace and its operationalization.
This presents opportunities for international cooperation, between countries, civil society, and the private sector, as seen on the increased commitment by Microsoft to engage with multilateral organizations, with the opening of its first office for UN Affairs, headed by Mr. John Frank, a veteran of Microsoft in Europe, where he used to lead relations with the European Commission and the EU Parliament.
The Paris Peace Forum is also another important venue for debating the pervasiveness of technology in all sectors of the economy and its impact in society, says Mr. Klynge: “You have more than a thousand signatures, both from the private sector and from the public sector, acknowledging that cybersecurity is not something on the fringes of what we should focus on”.
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