Reflections on the Tech Policy Primer

During 16 October's Tech Policy Primer, hosted by the American Embassy, Considerati and the Consumer Technology Association, speakers and participants explored the tension between increasing societal pressures to regulate digital technology and the ambition to nurture innovation within the tech industry.

“Set the rules right. Don’t make regulation a rulebook on technology, make it the rulebook of society.” (Ben Verwaayen)

State secretary Mona Keijzer asked the speakers for an actionable to-do list to grow the European tech sector in a responsible manner. Here are the to-do's Considerati has consolidatesd from the keynotes, panel and contributions during the Tech Policy Primer.

1. Set a vision on where society wants to go with technology

Regulation is backward looking; you regulate what already exists. What we need, is something forward looking and enabling. We need to have a vision where we want to go, and it needs to start with that vision. Is there a European vision for AI? Is there a Dutch vision for AI? We need to work together to get there.

2. Set principles or ethical standards as regulation

Instead of crafting a detailed set of rules, we need to consider setting principles and standards that guide innovation and allow for room on how to get there. As an example: any new technology on the road will be allowed as long as you can statistically prove it is ten times safer than humans. Setting this kind of ethical standards is workable. Iwill spur innovative things and create a flow of creativity. 

3. Create clarity on regulation for innovative concepts

Creating clarity on new rules, principles or standards is of the essenceBusinesses want to globally implement one standard and are most likely to follow Europe, as Europe will be the toughestThere is an opportunity to lead on regulation. If you have the leading regulation, people mold into that regulation. But it requires Europe to move faster and more proactive, preferably in close cooperation with global partners.

It is for companies to innovate: government should set the boundaries and enable innovation

4. Invest in fundamental research and talent for digital technology

Tech is people's business. Talent is the fuel for future business. We need to nurture it, not only at universities, but need to also ensure that the tech labour fource is inclusive. Fundamental researsch allows us to create an ecosystem that attrechts and retains talent. It discovers and explores new territories. Spin-offs can come from this, bringing new solutions to society.

5. Set sensible, clear rules and enforce them in a harmonised way

Growing businesses need acces to a large market. This requires a set of rules that is implemented and enforced equally across Europe. Fragmentation is Europe's weakness. European coordi-nation is needed. However, rules must be sensible.

6. Accept the diversity in the digital world, refrain from on-size-fits-all regulation

Digital businesses, new technology. From the outside they may look the same, how technology works, how platforms work, how the bsiness (model) works however differs tremendously. Only when regulation is crafted on the basis of this diversity, it can be effective for technology driven businesses and not hamper growth.

7. Set right rules about acces to data and transparency of algorithmic outcome

We need acces to large amounts of data to create solutions that work for society and provides basis for unbiased outcomes. We need the right rules that allow a more standardized acces to domains such as science and healthcare. For solutions to be accepted, consumers, users and patients need to understand how data works and understand the outcome of algorithms and artificial intelligence. 

Create better understanding, be part in the debate and work together

8. Involve challengers in the policy shaping process and work together

Initiate dialogue with new (non-vested) players in the market. It is of critical importance that we find ways to involve innovators, challengers and disruptors in the policymaking processes, This will also ensure that society as a whole can benefit from the innovators. We need to work together, in Europe and accross continents, as neither government nor business can do this by themselves

9. EU tech companies step up your game and take part in the debate

Businesses need to give their views, share their expertise, educate about their business models and about differences between them and really help shape this regulation. It is not in the advantage of platforms to have a free-for-all environment. We need to contribute to the discussion, explain what we need and help shape the right regulation. This is a responsibility that sits with the business sector.

10. Increase knowledge and expertise within the government on all things digital and the principle, standards and rules guiding it

Tech knowledge and expertise is scarce, perhaps even more for the government. Setting the right conditions does not necessarily require deep understanding of tech. We need to have the right understanding to become proactive towards technology, anticipating on new opportunities. Understanding that we don't need a detailed rulebook on technology. Yet, understanding how to set the right (ethical) standards that will enable technology and growth of the tech sector in Europe.

Special thanks to the speakers at the Tech Policy Primer

Mona Keijzer, State secretary of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy

Pete Hoekstra, US Ambassador to the Netherlands

Ben Verwaayen, General Partner at Keen Ventures

Inge Janssen,

Alexander Boetzelaer, RELX

Didier Herbert, European Commission

Willem Strijbosch, TomTom

Gary Shapiro, Consumer Technology Association

Ton Wagemans, Considerati

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