U.S. and EU seek to protect future innovation

U.S. and European Union flags flying against sky (© Shutterstock)
The United States and the European Union formed the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council to ensure that new innovation does not enable authoritarian abuse. (© Shutterstock)

What decisions should we allow artificial intelligence computers to make? How do we protect personal data collected online? And who decides whether a new technology really is “green?”

The United States and the European Union recently formed the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council to help answer those and other pressing questions and to ensure future technologies reflect democratic values and benefit everyone.

U.S. and European officials say emerging technologies can help tackle urgent challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the climate crisis. But new innovation should not enable authoritarian abuse.

“We will work together to ensure that trade and technology serve our societies and economies, while upholding our common values,” EU Trade Commissioner and European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said, announcing the council’s formation June 15.

Antony Blinken speaking while standing behind lectern (State Dept./Freddie Everett)
Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Global Emerging Technology Summit July 13 in Washington. (State Dept./Freddie Everett)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a July 13 speech to the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Global Emerging Technology Summit, urged innovators to ensure “universal rights and democratic values remain at the center of all the innovation that’s to come, and that it delivers real benefits in people’s lives.”

He called for democracies to remain at the forefront of innovation, establish standards for new technologies, and defend an open, secure and reliable internet.

He also warned that regimes in Russia and the People’s Republic of China are using new technologies to hack networks and carry out mass surveillance.

The U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council will work to improve trade between the world’s two largest economies and prevent disruptions of critical supply chains while also seeking to prevent the misuse of technology to threaten security and human rights.

Through the council, the United States and the EU will increase information sharing on the potential risks of certain foreign investments, including those involving sensitive technologies and research, while embracing access to basic scientific research and preserving open investment policies. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States reviews certain transactions to ensure foreign investment in critical technology does not compromise U.S. national security.

“We have common democratic values and we want to translate them into tangible action on both sides of the Atlantic,” European Commission Executive Vice-President and Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, announcing the council’s launch June 15. “This is a great step for our renewed partnership.”