During the welcome reception for this year’s Dublin Data Summit, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlined his ambitions for Ireland to become the “Digital Capital” of Europe. But in a way, it already is.
Dublin has one of the world’s largest density of data centers, storing the information of millions of Europeans. Some of technology’s best-known brands have their headquarters in Ireland. And the country’s digitally-skilled workforce is constantly expanding: as recently as last month, Microsoft announced its plan to hire 200 new employees, including 100 engineers, at our Dublin campus.
Alongside its success in attracting technology companies to invest in infrastructure, research and development, the Irish Government’s responsibility for the data economy has also increased. To this end, Irish policymakers have convened the annual Dublin Data Summit to discuss how to help innovation flourish, while still ensuring that technology is trustworthy, fundamental rights are protected, and companies which process personal data do so responsibly.
This year’s edition of the Data Summit took on an added dimension, given the new powers of oversight that Irish regulators have acquired under GDPR. Regulators, academics, NGO and business leaders all came together to discuss issues as varied as the use of data for health innovations and government services, the need for digital skills, GDPR compliance, and pressing cybersecurity concerns.
As an official partner of the Data Summit, Microsoft was once again actively involved in this year’s program.
Microsoft’s Deputy General Counsel and Corporate Vice President for Privacy and Regulatory Affairs, Julie Brill, delivered one of the Summit’s keynote speeches, discussing the societal implications of artificial intelligence (AI). While many organisations are only starting to consider AI, she highlighted how AI technologies are already helping to tackle challenges such as climate change and food scarcity. She also outlined Microsoft’s belief that the development of AI should be rooted in four key ethical principles: fairness, accountability, transparency, and ethics.
John Frank, Microsoft’s Vice President for EU Government Affairs, also took to the stage, joining a panel discussion focused on law enforcement and access to data. His remarks focused on how to maintain the appropriate balance between guaranteeing public safety while protecting citizens’ fundamental rights. He highlighted Microsoft’s call for modern international agreements governing how law enforcement agencies access electronic evidence stored in other countries, noting that Microsoft recently proposed a set of principles to help shape such agreements.
The Dublin Data Summit is only two years young. But it has quickly become a firm fixture on the calendar of anyone with an interest in data policy – and something Microsoft is very proud to support. Based on the quality of discussions at this year’s Summit, we have no doubt that the event will go from strength to strength, continuing to make a concrete impact in shaping the conversation around our global data economy.