On 16 May 2017, The Institute for Politics and Society, in cooperation with the EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture), organized a debate entitled “What if there were no digital technologies?” The main theme of the debate was on the issue of privacy in regard to the use of digital technology. The main guest of this debate was Max Schrems, an Austrian lawyer who led a campaign against Facebook.
Other speakers were: Holger Volland, Vice President of the Frankfurt Book Fair, and Ondřej Krátký, co-founder of Liftago. The debate was moderated by Jan Klesla, head of the economic section of Lidové noviny.
The debate began with Max Schrems, who at the outset, addressed the question of why privacy is so important and the issues related to limiting it. He then presented his experience with the fight against Facebook and abuse of collected personal data. He added that Facebook is not the only company working in this way. However, unlike other major companies, Facebook has very little country representation and often ingores complaints, often refusing to communicate with anyone who complains. The problem arises when we basically only have two options – to use the social network, and thus agree with its practices, or do not use it. Finally, he said that there is a need to develop a single privacy regulation within the EU.
Holger Volland spoke about the issue of digital technology in book publishing. A practical example of a problem for publishers was Amazon, which is now extremely strong and popular. He also focused on the popularity of the electronic form of publishing in the academic world. Additionally, he pointed to the political influence of books and how digital technology affects freedom of speech due to the ease with which ideas are circulated through electronically shared materials versus printed books. Finally, he considered the future of digital technologies in the field of culture – the issue of digitized culture and the creation of cultural works by artificial intelligence.
Ondřej Krátký stressed the positive and negative effects of digital technologies in the presentation. He said there is a need to promote positive aspects of such tenchologies and to support companies that try to minimize the negative impacts. The problem with regulating these platforms is that positive effects can be seen immediately, but the negative ones begin to show up later and are difficult to respond to and try to regulate.
The subsequent discussion with the audience addressed the issues of digital technology options and objectives, the problem of large companies refusing to engage developing rules for responsible societies, and the possibility of distinguishing between truth and deception in a time of artificial intelligence, which is capable of creating and replicating anything. Great emphasis was put on the need to educate society in digital technology and privacy, critical thinking and long-term thinking about future challenges.