Dear TechAways readers,
I’m Thomas, head of policy for BSA | The Software Alliance in the EMEA region, and I’m thrilled to guest-edit this week’s TechAways.
And what a week it’s been. From Europe Day celebrations to Thierry Breton’s meeting with Elon Musk, there’s been plenty of fodder for EU tech wonks.
I’ve been working in Brussels myself for almost two decades now. And I couldn’t be prouder to represent the global enterprise software industry in Europe. For those who want to know more about what enterprise, or B2B, software is, check out this explainer (it’s short, I promise!).
Essentially, BSA member companies provide the software tools that other businesses – large and small – need to operate, grow, and compete in today’s digital economy. Whether it’s improving supply chain management, designing more energy-efficient buildings, processing employee payroll, or ensuring our online financial transactions are secure, enterprise software is doing amazing things for European businesses and citizens every day. (As a Frenchman – yes, I know, nobody’s perfect – one of my favourite examples is how software is instrumental in helping to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral).
Digital transformation across all industries is critical to solving the climate crisis, enabling medical breakthroughs, creating jobs, and connecting people. But there are real concerns about the high-risk threats technology can pose, including to our democracies.
And so, in step with innovation, we’re seeing EU tech policy evolve. The conversation is no longer dominated by Intellectual Property issues (as important as they are) as it was more than ten years ago when I joined BSA. Today, the EU is putting, or already has, legislation in place on cybersecurity, AI, data governance, competition, privacy, and data protection, to name a few. And as further testament to all issues being tech issues, the Commission includes digital provisions in its trade deals. All these policies are driven by EU values, and all have impacts far beyond the union’s borders.
As rules to govern the digital world are put in place, we – legislators, the businesses developing and deploying technology, and civil society – must get them right. In some cases, that means making sure that what is often, and necessarily technical rulemaking is not undermined by politicking. In others, it means ensuring digital policies preserve and strengthen fundamental rights, which the EU has not shied away from. But to develop a strong digital economy that’s both principled and competitive, Europe cannot do it alone. Working together with like-minded, international partners needs to remain at the top of the EU’s digital agenda.
Next week’s EU-US Trade and Technology Council in France is one important space to deepen technological convergence, for example, on cross-border data transfers, risk governance for AI, and cybersecurity. Next month’s G7 Summit in Germany is another. The EU should take its cooperation further, expanding partnerships and ensuring rules are interoperable with other countries – like Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore – all of whom have similar values to Europe’s and will be essential allies in developing a digital rulebook in an increasingly global contested marketplace.
This is a space BSA will continue to engage in globally, sharing our deep industry experience and regional insights from offices located on five continents. If you would like to connect, please reach out!
Now, over to SECNewgate EU’s news wrap-up on the essential TechAways this week.
Plant-based meat hot off the press [Tech Crunch]
Baltimore start-up Mooji has figured out how to 3D print food with its new multi-nozzle technology, allowing to scale up the production of plant-based meats. The company raised $3 million in funding from investors of Beyond and Impossible, which produce other famous meat alternatives. While their offer is largely limited to ground or processed alt-meat products, Mooji has set its sights on whole cuts – an unprecedented innovation in the market. Around 70% of the animal meat trade revolves around whole cuts, but plant-based alternatives have struggled to keep up due to issues with texture, affordability, and viability for mass production. So far, Mooji’s plans for distribution are limited to Europe and the US – foodies, get ready for a transatlantic feast!
Data and Dating: Just because he is tall doesn’t mean he will make you happy… [Wired]
Until a few years ago, the field of relationship science was far from developed and sparse in sample sizes. Scientist Samantha Joel has decided to merge data from past studies to create a large dataset of roughly 11,000 heterosexual couples. Despite having data from 85 other scientists, and advanced statistical methods like AI machine learning, Joel found that the variables they measured (race, hobbies, and political ideology) had little power in predicting how well a relationship would pan out. While it was difficult to foresee how happy a couple would be, it was easier to guess how desirable one was or how fast it’d take someone to swipe right on someone. According to studies, people prefered rich, sexy-named induviduals who shared the same initials as them. Bonus points were received bythe tall and firefighters. However, there’s a clear overlap between the traits that don’t guarantee long-term happiness and the traits that increase our value on the Tinder market. So, why should we compete for partners with traits that don’t increase our likelihood of sticking it out in the long run? According to Big Data, we shouldn’t.
NFT Baby Fever [Gizmodo]
90s kids can feel equal parts old and outraged, as ‘vintage’ memes from their childhood are joining the NFT roster. One of them, a GIF of a baby dancing on a black background, was conceived in 1996 by Michael Girard and Ron Lussier. Now it’s back, looking more terrifying than ever – digitally remastered and extra smooth, trapped in the blockchain for the eternity. The original GIF is part of a larger ‘Dancing Baby Collection’, featuring six additional versions of the artwork. As the bubble of NFT self-delusion is starting to wither away (NFT sales fell 92% from their September 2021 peak), the blockchain overlords are trying to cash in on nostalgia of the early Internet sensations. That strategy is questionable considering poor financial standing of most millennials (aside from a few tech wunderkinds), but the lack of logic is on brand with the entire NFT ecosystem.
New Dimension for Coral Restoration: 3-D Printed Reefs Recreate Natural Diversity [Good News Network]
Coral reefs are so fundamental for marine biodiversity that they’re home to around 25% of known marine species. In recent years nearly half of them were bleached out due to climate change. However, innovative 3-D printers can curb this natural meltdown. In a new paper, researchers from Israel’s four leading universities highlight a 3D printing method that preserves coral reefs. Their innovation is based on the natural structure of coral reefs off the southern Israeli city of Eilat, but their model is adaptable to other marine environments. The reefs are made of a unique ceramic that is naturally porous underwater. It provides the ideal construction and restoration that is needed in the affected area On top of that they can contribute to the establishment of a new reef structure as a foundation for the continuation of life.
About this week’s editor, Thomas Boué.
I oversee EMEA public policy activities for BSA | The Software Alliance in Brussels, where I lead a stellar team covering a range of issues around AI, data and data flows, privacy, cybersecurity, and trade on behalf of the global enterprise software industry. I also serve on the UK International Data Transfers Expert Council. Beyond policy, I am a trained classical violinist and did a stint as the bassist-singer of a death/black metal band. As Slayer’s number one fan, I’ve travelled worldwide just to see them live!
In case you haven’t had enough