Last week I attended an official dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron at the seat of government in Paris. 20 global “thinkers” who work with technology were invited. The aim was to discuss the role of France and Europe in general on technological issues. Guests included writer Shoshana Zuboff (author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism) and Baroness Joanna Shields, former UK Internet and Security Minister. From Latin America, only this columnist.
Three questions were raised in the conversations. Is it possible to use technology in favor of democracy? How to protect rights in the face of technological advancement? And, very important, how to protect democracies from attacks coordinated by digital means?
France is in a favorable position to raise these issues. The country is about to assume the presidency of the Council of Europe. In addition, in the days following the dinner, he received the US Vice President, Kamala Harris, and the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, in addition to other global leaders who participated in the Peace Forum, at the invitation of the country.
At dinner I ended up meeting some of the French ministers. Among them, the young minister for transformation and reform of the state, Amélie de Montchalin, who sat beside me. Amélie lived in Brazil in the city of Campinas and speaks Portuguese perfectly. His father was an executive at a food products factory in the city. On the day of the dinner she had just launched France’s free software policy. It also includes a strategy to attract programmers to work in the French government. Everything is a luxury compared to Brazilian technological policies at the moment.
It is worth remembering that Brazil was already a leader in this area and a pioneer in free software policies in public administration. Today it is adrift. By the way, that was the subject of my speech to President Macron. I emphasized that our country is a kind of laboratory for the best and worst in terms of technological governance. On the bright side, we have in the past created the International Partnership of Open Governments (OGP), which was mentioned several times at the meeting. We also created the Marco Civil da Internet, seen as a model, and also cited. We’ve done global initiatives like NetMundial, or the Internet Steering Committee itself. Everything remains in the memory of global leaders.
As for the bad experiences related to technology, it goes without saying. We live within them and their results every day in the country. One lesson was clear at dinner: leadership matters. Say what you will about the French president, he has a plan and a clear vision for France’s role. This vision bears fruit. The country will grow 7% in 2021. The unemployment rate is low and falling, with half a million formal jobs created this year. The country is building the foundations to participate more and more in the digital economy and wants to dialogue with thinkers around the world to do so.
As another Frenchman, Allan Kardec, said: “Every intelligent effect has an intelligent cause. The power of the cause is in the magnitude of its effect”. For us to reflect.
It’s over – Brazil global leader in technological governance issues
Already – France and Europe taking a leading role in the global debate on technology
It’s coming – Brazilian civil society organizing to retake the space lost by the country
I have over 8 years of experience in the news industry. I have worked for various news websites and have also written for a few news agencies. I mostly cover healthcare news, but I am also interested in other topics such as politics, business, and entertainment. In my free time, I enjoy writing fiction and spending time with my family and friends.