U.S. CTO Advocates for American-European Cooperation at Web Summit

By: Henry Rademacher

On November 7, Michael Kratsios, Chief Technology Officer of the United States, spoke at the annual Web Summit in Lisbon. The four-day event featured some of the most influential leaders in the tech industry, including representatives from the private and public sector.

Kratsios began by noting the history of cooperation between the United States and Europe and the role it has played in solving many global problems over the past century. He pointed out that many technological innovations, such as the automobile and telescope, were invented in Europe.

Throughout his speech, Kratsios stressed the importance of adopting innovation-friendly policies.

“We embrace an unrivaled ecosystem of innovation built upon the cooperation of academia, the private sector, and the federal government,” said Kratsios, citing recent breakthroughs in quantum computing and biotechnology as examples of the progress that technology can contribute to the future.

Kratsios also emphasized that the United States is centered on a light-touch regulatory regime, crediting it with fostering a climate conducive to innovation. He cautioned against excessive regulation, which becomes more common in Europe by the day, stating, “we don’t need to impose preemptive, overly burdensome, and innovation-killing regulations to stay true to our values.”

He called for continued cooperation between the United States and European countries to “embrace innovation and defend our free system against our adversaries that seek to undermine our shared values.”

The main adversary Kratsios addressed was China, whose ubiquitous use of surveillance and censorship have drawn widespread criticism throughout democratic nations. He specifically mentioned Huawei, criticizing numerous elements of their business operations, including their alleged theft of data in Africa.

Huawei was far from Kratsios’ only complaint about China’s role in the global economy. He described their entire social and economic system as fundamentally opposed to the free market system that has brought prosperity to the U.S. and Europe. Specifically, he stated that their government “twists” technology to spy on and oppress its citizens. He reiterated the need for the U.S. and Europe to stand together against China and compared the modern situation to the 2001 decision to admit China to the World Trade Organization. 

Finally, Kratsios called for the U.S. to continue leading the way on A.I. technology and highlighted the potential dangers of China getting ahead in the field. He highlighted President Trump’s efforts to make sure the U.S. remains the global leader in A.I.

Photo Credit: Web Summit (Flickr)