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Opening Keynote: How Digital Technology and Data are Changing our World

How will advances linked to data creation, computationally intensive practices (e.g. artificial intelligence and automation), and the transition from a network that primarily comprises person-to-person connections to one comprising object-to-object connections, affect highly regulated fields, where public policy mediates a variety of social, political, ethical and economic interests, including public health, medicine (precision medicine, genomics), the automotive industry, and beyond.

  • What are the emerging problem areas?
  • What applications is DARPA driving?
  • Where are the great opportunities?What are the major technological changes occurring as a result of data and analytics? 

Panel 1: Global Security Challenges and Data: Intelligence Gathering, Encryption, and Sharing in a World of ISIS

Islamic State and other extremist groups use information and communication technologies to recruit, fundraise, spread their messages of hate, and maybe soon to directly attack critical infrastructures. States, and occasionally non-states, have a range of policy and technology tools to use to counter these online threats, but how far can policymakers push in this area without fundamentally eroding human rights, privacy, undermining democracy, or weakening these technologies to the point they can no longer be engines of innovation and economic growth?  After the Paris attacks, many senior law enforcement officials cried that government must have more online power. Can this be done without sacrificing what made the Internet a success?

  • How can information sharing arrangements between governments and firms and between governments be improved to permit necessary intelligence gathering and sharing across jurisdictions? What is the role for citizen oversight/courts?
  • Given differences in privacy laws within the EU and between the US and the EU and other jurisdictions, what legal or policy mechanisms needs to be created or adjusted (e.g. MLATs)?
  • How should we think about content regulation and oversight in the age of terrorist attacks and online recruitment?
  • How to strike the right balance in the tensions that arise vis-à-vis human rights, commerce, security and other important societal needs?

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Panel 2: National Data Governance in a Global Economy

The global digital economy is reliant on the exchange of data between companies across borders. Many nations are presently asserting their sovereignty over information technologies and data. The policy decisions made now will bring with them a host of issues over the coming decade that will affect how companies operate, seen in their storage of and exchange of data, and as a consequence world trade and the growth of the global (digital) economy at large.

  • How is the trend towards greater imposition of ‘data sovereignty’ manifesting itself? (e.g. data localization and residency, rejection of ‘safe harbor’)
  • Is data localization another form of protectionism, industrial policy or privacy protection? How is one to determine? What is the balance to be struck?
  • How best to consider sovereignty and international trade concerns in a global economy?

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Lunch Keynote: The Future of Digital Technologies for International Affairs

The world economy and relationships between states have changed over the past decade due to the rapid adoption of digital technological changes worldwide. In turn, diplomats and foreign services have had to adapt their methods and capabilities in new and creative ways. Additionally, changes have been triggered in other governmental organizations. At a high level, discussions around governance of the Internet has engaged traditionally diplomatic organizations like the United Nations. At the same time, at a domestic level, economic development and aid communities have turned their attention to the role that digital technologies might play in continued development.

  • What will be the future implications of the continued adoption and spread of digital technologies on international affairs broadly speaking?
  • What role might the United Nations and its member states play in various aspects of governance of the Internet going forward?
  • What will be the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in steering the digital development agenda over the coming decade?

Panel 3A: The Potential and Pitfalls of an Algorithmic Society

Public sector and private sector organizations, including content intermediaries, are increasingly using algorithms and automation in decision-making. Insurance, trading, medicine, policing and marketing are all undergoing changes due to the adoption of these practices. Increasing automation may have the counter-intuitive effect of reducing human autonomy though as decisions are made in ways that are beyond of the control or understanding of many individuals. Our understanding of and evidence base on which to make policy decisions surrounding these practices and their consequences remains limited.

  • What are the consequences of and subsequent public policy challenges associated with uses of algorithmic and automated decision-making in the public and private sectors?
  • In the absence of a robust evidence base, how can policy makers ensure the use of algorithms adheres to societal norms? How might this evidence base be put together?
  • How to consider liability issues and who is responsible for accountability over algorithmically determined or automated decisions?

Panel 3B: Cyber Conflict: Prevention, Stability and Control

Global cyber conflict continues to worsen year after year even as the world is becoming incredibly and irreversibly reliant on digital systems and data.  Yet in 2015 the major cyber powers agreed on a number of measures to reduce the risk of cyber conflict, most notably agreements on norms about cyber espionage and targeting in warfare.  The future filled with uncertainty in this area: cyber conflict may continue to escalate, and with it undermine the benefits that the digital revolution might bring, or nations might find ways to resolve their competing interests at an international level and develop new instruments for managing conflict.

  • What progress had been made in norms, confidence building measures, and crisis management (e.g. treaties, norms, domestic and international sanctions)? What are the emerging norms in light of US-China, China–UK, G20 and other developments?
  • What are the critical gaps that have to be addressed (either between private enterprises and government or between governments) to minimize the risks of cyber conflict? What might public policy do to fill these gaps?
  • What role is there for non-state actors to contribute to crisis stability and control dangerous escalation?

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Panel 4A: Massive Data Collection and Automation: Preserving Individuals’ Rights

The collection, aggregation, and sharing of data are at the heart of intelligence gathering practices, online advertising, and the distributed ‘Internet of Things’ networks of sensors. Cultural practices are changing and new concerns are emerging due to this ubiquitous capture and sharing of everyday information. Public policy will be called upon to protect or preserve previously established individuals’ rights in a context where the sheer quantity of personal and behavioral data and the uses of these data exceed most people’s comprehension.

  • How can public policy best protect individual civil liberties while also enabling digital data collection and analysis, and the benefits that it brings, at a national and global level?
  • Is there a possibility for people to assert their ownership rights over their data within this context? Is this desirable?  Are there “standards” that can be introduced and if so, by what type of entities?
  • Can corporations design private voluntary mechanisms and can such mechanisms contribute positively?

Panel 4B: On Notice: The Coming Transformation of Key Economic Sectors

This panel will look at several key sectors that are currently undergoing significant disruption as a result of the development and commercialization of data and digital technologies over the past decade: finance, utilities, agriculture, urban transportation and logistics. For instance, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have grown over the past five years – the financial sector is now quickly adopting the underlying blockchain technology to gain efficiencies in their own operations.  Utilities and agriculture are rapidly adopting sensors and data-driven operations. The ‘uberization’ of several markets over the past decade (e.g. hotels, taxis) is now moving into logistics.

  • What is driving the adoption of these technologies globally? Why these particular industries or economic sectors and not others?
  • How might differing national regulatory regimes help or stifle the adoption of these technologies globally? 

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Panel 5: Civic entrepreneurs: Global perspectives on open data, engagement and urban governance

Around the globe technologists, government innovators, and civil society are leveraging digital tools and open data to make governance more responsive to citizens, strengthen the relationship between citizens and their government, provide new ways for citizens to participate in decision-making in their communities, and make governments more accountable. Yet if the past decade is anything to go by - none of these outcomes are guaranteed.

  • What are the most promising global examples of data and technology being used to hold government to account, better govern urban areas or increase civic engagement?
  • What might be the subsequent outcomes – both positive and negative - in areas such as governance, healthcare and sustainable or local development?
  • What kind of evidence base is required so as to generate robust and meaningful evaluations of the outcomes and success various open data initiatives?

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Dinner & Keynote Discussion