Data is the New Plutonium

With Stefan Lindström

Data is the New Plutonium

With Stefan Lindström]​

TF guests Lindström Stefan GTA BW glow style

Stefan Lindström is Finland’s Ambassador to Technology and Digitization with a global mandate to address the issues that arise from the expansion of digital technology into the economy, society and government. Statesmanship today is not limited to trade and defense issues, it now includes cybersecurity and extraterritorial regulation of software platforms. Topics discussed in this episode: the tension between markets and public policy; the implications of the Digital Markets Act, Digital Services Act and other EU regulations; the consequences of META’s $400+ million GDPR fine; the 40X increase in the number of lobbyists for the technology industry; tax avoidance by big tech; the USA’s inability to enact regulation of digital markets; the prospect of a global regulatory alliance; why data is the new plutonium; China’s looming demographic challenge; why the profit motive may be a fundamental flaw in globalized corporations; how converging planetary-scale issues are driving a philosophical shift for humanity.

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this week on the futurists Stefan Lindstrom you mentioned that data is the new oil I’ve used now for a long time the argument that data is the new plutonium

welcome back to another episode of the futurists where we track down and find and interview the people who are inventing the future and this week we’ve got a special guest for you so welcome back folks I’m Rob turczyk and this is my co-host Brett King hello there so Brett this week we’re going to interview uh someone who is doing something that has inspired me so much and I want to share this with you because you know for many months you’ve been urging me to read that Kim Stanley Robinson book the ministry future yeah yeah and I finally got around to reading it over the holidays which by the way it’s excellent but thinking of that I was like why don’t we have a Ministry of the future and as it turns out while we don’t have that in the United States we do have a Ministry of the future in Finland and our guest today cool is the ambassador to technology and digitalization from the foreign Ministry of the government of Finland so what let’s give a big welcome to Stefan Lindstrom Stefan welcome

thank you rob thank you Brett good to see you likewise it’s great to have you here on the show we are excited to have you joining us all the way from Helsinki uh and um we want to know what the heck is a ambassador to technology and digitalization tell me a bit about what you do it’s a little bit of a new thing of course it’s been brewing for a long time in a sense that technology of course affects everything uh in the society so much right now and also in the last five years I would have said that everything has been accelerating uh if you look at semiconductors or or anything like that standards everything affects really it’s it’s not any trade issues anymore it’s foreign and security policy issues and uh there are a few of us now right now uh in in the different foreign services and it’s it’s very difficult also for a company sometimes to understand what what it’s all about but I think this uh part of the of the trade is going to grow tremendously actually in the next coming years so we are really on the Forefront on everything like you said uh if I could choose it myself I would actually call myself ambassador of the future uh it would be really cool but they turned it down so so so far we gotta like we gotta put that out on Craig look we’re gonna put that ad on like Twitter or something and get a movement to get he called the minister of the future that’d be pretty cool now tell me a little bit how that works because typically when you work in the foreign Ministry of the Foreign Service your assignment is geographical you’re assigned to a particular nation and you’re built meant to build relationships within that Nation but this is uh this is not something as National this is not Place based right your your mandate is is global you’re responsible for technology and digital digitalization all over the world yes yes I am and we we do have a kind of a progressive approach to this one uh speaking Finland that is uh I have colleagues for instance who are our ambassadors for climate change uh I I have colleagues who are ambassadors for for circular common economy we have one on hybrid issues and we have one on Cyber issues uh so we have a global mandate and and then work very closely together in in on these issues to to see how how can we create added value on on what we do how come we actually create some some sort of uh effectness in in the processes abroad and how do we communicate with the video counterparts in my part of course it’s mainly the company it’s the big global companies that I talk to on a daily basis on different issues it but is this does this inform policy is it more about you know sort of PR you know from a from a Finnish perspective you know that’s what I’m really interested in you know because this is the problem we have in countries like the US and the UK and even Australia where I’m from originally is that um you know the markets inform policy far too strongly you know and that’s you’re always trying to get concessions from the market to make real significant changes now that’s more like what we call public policy in a way and Country branding this is this is the real stuff and and uh just a practical example of uh how difficult this is sometimes is is that uh the the whole sort of tech Ambassador concept was created really by Denmark uh some six seven years ago they appointed a tech ambassador to Silicon Valley and and cost per Klinger the name of the guy when he went to Facebook the first time uh and asked for a meeting uh yeah he got a really nice Walkabout on on the the campus and then he got a goodie bag and then they sent him home they had no idea what he was doing there uh and uh it took quite a long time for the companies to realize in a sense that we also deal of course with regulation uh what do the companies do and and of course when you look at it more and more narrowly I mean the companies affect human rights they affect everything in the society today so it’s pretty natural that we have a a sort of ongoing interaction with them and just as another example also talking about Facebook or meta uh I think it was six years ago when he click told me that they have something like 10 people in governmental relations uh now they are 400. so it just shows sort of uh in a sense of Awakening from their side as well is that what they do actually has a totally different uh effect on other society and under on foreign foreign policy making I think for the first 30 years of silicon Valley’s rise it was left to its own uh devices they weren’t really under the scrutiny of anyone they had defense contracts with the US government uh so they were you know they were a military contractor um but they and they dealt with universities and research Labs of course but they weren’t really governed um and you know in the 1990s our government the US government made a decision to to leave it alone you know don’t over regulate don’t regulate too prematurely uh let it grow and see where it will go and amazingly that has persisted until maybe the past five years where suddenly Nations have kind of woken up and realized that these are Globe spanning information Empires that exert phenomenal levels of control and have more insight into citizen Behavior than the governments themselves in some some respect they rival governments in their size and power you know yeah then the cap the capitalization uh the market capitalization for the big tech companies is larger than the GDP of many countries uh so when you approach these companies is that the approach you’re taking are you approaching them as if they’re a foreign power uh not quite but uh it’s kind of fun to to read the history a little bit I read the Brad Smith’s book uh from from Microsoft uh about the history in a sense and when he started with Microsoft 25 years ago he said that it’s really good at Microsoft it’s in Seattle because it’s so far away from all Regulators uh uh 15 years later he said that it’s really bad that we sit there because we should be sitting together with the regulators and then Microsoft has a different approach than most of the other companies in since they they appoint what I would call diplomats already there’s a Microsoft presence in the U and and and so forth so they see it from a different perspective and they they have a different kind of responsibility taking but it’s really something new that that comes in there and uh it is when you talk about the market cap I mean the market cap of Apple is bigger than the whole stock market of Germany combined and that gives a tremendous amount of uh leeway you know in a sense and strength to them but then you also have to look at it from a different perspective and that’s what’s happening in Europe uh largely right now in a sense that uh what what uh how do you regulate these companies uh how do you regulate the activities in them I mean section 230 is from 1996 in the U.S right and and uh what is it 27 words so and and it’s giving total freedom to to monetize and no right to the consumer whatsoever I mean gdpr was the first uh kind of step in that direction and now with the with the new European legislation coming in to digital market and the digital uh Services Act and the AI act and so forth uh this is going to be a huge issue in the next uh coming years yeah let’s take a second and talk about we’ve had this conversation numerous times haven’t we Robin yeah yeah it keeps coming up well that’s why we’re having this show let’s talk about gdpr because I think for the folks who are listening perhaps some of them won’t be familiar with that acronym gdpr is a European Union regulation called the general data protection regulation gdpr for short and what it means is is that companies do not have the permission to track automatically Track by default all the behavior and target people with advertising this was recently in the news the ACT has been around for five years but it was recently in the news uh last week because meta Facebook got hit with a 400 million dollar fine um by the EU of course meta has appealed these fines in the past but it looks like they won’t weasel out of this and one of the consequences of this 400 million dollar fine is that meta may be forbidden from tracking users at all with targeted advertising if you know anything about Facebook’s business model that’s exactly how they make money so this would really [ __ ] uh Facebook in a pretty significant way uh Stefan can you give us some perspective from Europe about that about that case against Facebook I don’t know I mean the case is is going on of course and and uh they’ve been fined for a long time I think it was a monthly finance and they just refused to give in in in any way on gdpr in general you know I lived in the U.S for nine years and participated in many panels and spoke at many venues and it was kind of fun because many times you were attacked when you’re sitting up there on the podium that how dare you Europeans do something like this that the test cost our industry 10 billion dollars and it’s of no good and the good news what uh the interesting part though is that after the session after the seminar the same guy looks up to me and says that you know I had to say that because my company demanded it but personally I said I thank good somebody is doing something uh and and it’s gone a little bit too far with the with the tracking business and and uh everything what is there the metadata that is collected in in a sense and at some points it’s not really the gdpr as such that’s going to put the stuff on it it’s more this new regulations that are coming in to dma and the DSA uh but uh the the other thing is of course what has led to this is uh the kind of tax avoidance by the companies if you look at the market shares uh of these companies in in Europe on these issues this is of course totally self-inflictive so we shouldn’t be complaining on on that thing uh in in a sense but on the web browser business for instance uh Google Chrome has a 60 market share and on on on on the search Google has a 95 market share in in the whole thing still they don’t pay any virtually any taxis in Europe uh and and that’s of course another uh sort of approach to the whole issue and and uh is this fair or is it not this is another thing that we are we are talking about in in uh in in many ways uh the figures are really interesting in this and of course then you also have to ask yourself is that why is this why have we come to this kind of a situation and one of the reasons is of course that this big companies have bought up all the competition regardless of where it is in Europe or in in so they’ve been given this dominant position and I mean even in the U.S you have legislative proposals right now uh where you’re looking at uh looking so uh setting some kind of limits on on how the companies can uh buy their their competition we’ll get to the comparison with the US in just a moment but first I want to just circle back and make sure that the audience is listening understands what you’re saying you referred to two recent European Union acts um the dma which is the digital markets Act and the DSA and that is the Digital Services act can you tell us a little bit about what those entail uh what they what they pertain to and how they’re going to regulate U.S companies oh it is it’s uh it’s really they’re looking more at uh uh how to set it in in it’s it’s far-reaching obligations on on Gatekeepers really uh and and uh it’s it’s a signaling of a kind of a new time New Era of digital regulation uh and and it’s not yet fully uh in part but it depends a little bit on how do you define these companies I mean the the it’s very clearly defined on on what companies are going to be affected uh by this and and it’s only the really big ones I think it was something that you have to have 45 million users per month and uh or 400 million users in total I mean look from this from this uh from this side of the world it looks like it’s an act that is designed to block Facebook and Google from uh making ridiculous amounts of money on European citizens um that might not be the intent but it sure looks like that from California I mean but there is a I think the the one thing that we have in Europe which and I you know I think that the same you know could be true of other regions like China as well is the understanding of the Strategic nature of data and the fact that it is an economic asset um and you don’t want that asset controlled by corporations outside of your geography now that’s very difficult concept to deal with in respect to the way we actually are now seeing the evolution of these tech companies like you said trans transnationals um Kim Stanley Robinson calls them right these uh super corporations that are larger than many nations and they have massive influence in terms of policy they have massive budgets and their ability to sort of get you know like in the states they’ve won that battle they’ve won all of those battles in terms of Regulation and policy and all of those things so that they can monetize that but the rest of the world saying well hang on a second maybe that’s not the way it should work and when we get into stuff like artificial intelligence it’s going to be even more critical so this hands-off approach all it’s meaning now is that um you know the US is delegating policy decisions to Europe effectively uh now you’re in now you’re firmly in Stefan’s Stefan you’re the one who coined that term uh as I recall you said the US has outsourced regulation to the EU tell me what you mean by that uh uh the the USS now I mean first of all we have to go back to the 1996 and under Section 230 of the ACT uh that has been there for now way too long because it doesn’t give any rights to to anyone the companies are free to monetize whatever date whatever activity they do this is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act the dmca and then you have the the other coin in in a sense of of uh that there are five legislative proposals in the U.S right now that are are debated in you know in the course and you have the mode of filing modernization act you have the augmenting comparability and competition by enabling service switching act you have the American choice and Innovation online act uh ending platform monopolies act and that from competition and Opportunity Act these have been discussed now for years and years and years and and uh a little bit into pieces so that there’s no Effectiveness in anything and they’re very of course from the the company’s perspective they’re very unpopular from the the consumer’s perspective at least the way they are being put forward so what is the easy solution uh let the Europeans do the Dirty Work let them regulate and then you say that now we have to do this because the Europeans have done it and we have to follow the European laws because they are extra Territorial and if we want to keep that 400 million uh consumer Market we have to follow those laws so in sense I I feel uh that uh it’s an easy way for for the for the Americans to to go behind you European activities and this has happened already in gdpr in many many ways uh and and I think uh this is going to happen in fintech too yeah

so so we are looking for some kind of a universal Norm uh what would be easy for the companies also this incredibly complex I mean we’re also facing as an issue right now where we have a let’s say an American company that does something that is lawful uh and it’s demanded by the EU that they do in Europe at the same time they sell the cell the same activity is illegal in Japan how do they comply it’s virtually impossible uh and and uh these issues that come up time and time again in for the companies and they are really scratching their hair wondering sort of but how can we get out of this uh particularly also because many of these laws because the nature of data it’s extraterritorial so the law if even if the company uh acts in the U.S they have to follow the law in Europe or in Japan or somewhere else uh with the with this issue so it is a network that uh it’s emotionally impossible to comprehend do you think uh Stefan that you know I I absolutely agree with you in fact um when it comes to things like climate action and how we deal with the immense costs you know economic and human lives that that will come from this inevitably and for things like artificial intelligence and how it’s implemented you know across the financial networks for example it seems to me that some form of global regulatory Alliance is is inevitable in respect to creating these you know autonomous economies of the future that that cross boundaries with their Technologies with their algorithms with their data do you see that that is sort of more of the way do you envisage as a as a futurist um you know that that’s the way you’ll have to go with regulation it would be preferable uh but whether it’s possible is a different issue right yeah the US and China will never settle for that yeah no the US it would be like a lighting a match and it is necessary otherwise it creates this chaos that we’ve got right well for sure but look what

this is also a value question many times and I love to talk about values and and here we are sitting now uh three white guys uh uh plus minus 550 and and uh pondering these things what we think uh and what we value it’s totally different from the from the 25 year olds all around the world not to mention the 18 year olds and and uh they have a different approach when they read you know Orwell’s books or anything like this uh looking at these issues and and I think they are more actually willing to to uh accept uh regulation in a sense that do not give all the rights to the companies instead to the individuals to the consumers I don’t know do you agree uh well the problem is that we now have an economic system in the digital domain that economic system is well established it’s been around for 20 years and companies have become very successful with it and they have something to lose or something at stake and they’re unwilling to give it up and they’re unwilling to adapt under understandably right now there’s something to fight for um and which is why a company like Facebook hires a former political advisor like um uh Nick Clegg to be the president of the company basically you know Zuckerberg handed him the job and said go deal with the politicians and get them off our back and I think that was a brilliant move I think that was a brilliant hire um because you know it’s like it’s like if you want to um Catch a Thief you hire a thief if you want to deal with a politician get a politician on the case so I think the problem now has been this uh the technology companies have run without much regulation and without much oversight and supervision they’ve grown to immense scale they operate in every planet on the world they have deeper intelligence and better understanding of citizens than governments themselves and while those companies will cooperate when requested uh they’ll share data or share information with the governments where it’s required they operate otherwise with autonomy and what we end up with is two things Brett made a comment about data uh with respect to data you know we have a kind of data imperialism where a company based in Beijing or or in California can seize the data assets of citizens in other parts of the world and without any consent by the government that’s historically unprecedented you know we have this phrase that you and I have talked about in the past Stefan um data is the new oil remember like 10 or 15 years ago that’s what every pundit was saying data is the new oil but data is not like oil oil is in the ground and it’s it’s you know that’s the property of a sovereign government and they will license rights to companies that want to extract it in exchange for Hefty fees if data is oil well where are the fees where is the licensing where is the permission where is the control from the government it’s not existing and so uh well the refining happens in California right and then what happens is they’re using that data to train AIS and what those AIS are now doing is a kind of AI colonialism you know where they reach out to uh countries uh literally you know our artificial intelligence that’s trained on National Data is now limiting the choices that people see there it’s it’s determining in advance what those citizens or those populations get to see this measure of loss of control is I think what’s at stake here this is what the governments are concerned about I think they’re right to be concerned about I’m not quite sure they’re approaching it in the best way or the right way uh you know Stefan not too long ago you and I had a conversation with an EU Minister who was trying to figure out how to regulate artificial intelligence and we had a lively debate at your place um you know over dinner and you’ll remember I got in a big debate with someone there about um whether we should whether we should regulate AI at all whether it’s even possible to regulate it well that was a few years ago what’s the status of that today what is the perspective in the EU about these enormous artificial intelligence Empires that are being built outside of the EU yeah I’m interested yeah I I think it’s it’s it’s a little bit too early to to even go into regulation that I mean because regulation is always reactive you cannot be proactive in any way another and interesting aspect there is that uh I think we just scratched the surface of what AI is going to be that’s true that’s true but by the time you regulate it and that’s the that’s the problem isn’t it Stefan is that by the exactly yeah you’ve got to put guard rails in place because AI has such broad uh potential to impact Society um employment I’ll bring another metaphor for you for you rob the you mentioned the data is the new oil uh uh I’ve used now for a long time uh the argument that data is the new uh plutonium

uh because if you if you have plutonium uh if you use it right you know you have nuclear power it’s really good for the society if you use it in a bad way it’s a nuclear weapon or or it can pollute the planet for the next 40 000 years data is exactly the same thing uh if you use it in the right way it’s really good for the society it’s really good for the individual it’s really good for the countries for the companies for everyone if you use it in a bad way you are in a situation like Cambridge analyticon trolling and cyber security and and all these issues so it’s really more like plutonium than than oil I like it dangerous substance to handle handle it with care uh not something to recklessly proceed with and frankly something that’s not well understood by the general public you know so it has all those attributes um I I worry that we are torn um and as you described a moment ago you said that we are concerned about values and ethics for sure right and and that’s true though those values may vary from country to country or culture to culture but people are concerned about values and ethics and unfortunately for better Awards government is where we we sort that out that’s how you know our process works that’s where we express our values and where we create a system for adjudicating values I I don’t know if we’ve caught up with technology and Technology seems to be moving at such a rapid pace and evolving so fast and presenting so many complex and naughty issues uh that are difficult to resolve even within a single culture let alone multiple cultures around the world it seems like an unsolvable problem and of course the companies do not care right that’s not their problem to solve yeah in this respect it is like pollution you know the the uh the the issues around data are an externality companies are in the business of generating externalities and pushing them on to the public and letting the government clean up the mess but I mean I think that you know I mean again we’ve had this conversation before but I think that’s really where we need a new intent behind corporations and the way they work for society and I think that that is happening it’s not a regulatory movement but it is a social movement where we’re expecting more from these Brands now and I think um

PR and finesse their way out yeah yeah it’s green unless they get real right but then it has to get real you know I mean I hope so but um I don’t know I mean we should get into this in the second half with Stefan in terms of you know how this how we think about corporations in 30 or 40 years you know and how we think about the regulatory environment where regulations are highly automated so we should definitely get into that but do you want to do the quick fire around and we can uh yeah let’s go to Quick fire and then we’ll take a break all right Stefan I’m gonna hit you with some uh lightning round questions are you ready [ __ ] okay

science fiction you remember being exposed to I think it was the Animal Farm yeah the asset science fiction book yeah definitely well if you can call uh 1984 science fiction right yeah um what technology you’re a technologist what technology do you think has most changed Humanity thus far I’ll say the internet because it it has created so much wealth uh uh it has lifted so many people into the middle class in the world that uh yeah I would say the internet great answer um do you do is there a particular futurist or entrepreneur that has uh significantly influenced you in your career not on a sort of futuristic side in it it is basically the network that I’ve built during my my entire career in a sense because uh if there’s something I I really love it’s it’s to spar with people you know bring people intelligent people around the table and and just let it let it go uh no one really in particular one person I really admire is is Brad Smith or Microsoft to be in to be honest I mean the uh his thinking is is uh very wide and I I like the way he puts his values through I agree with you and the last question is is there a fable or a science fiction story or something that you’ve read is representative of the future that you most hope for jujitsos

I mean if you look at the Visionary uh uh I I don’t know who who and how they created all these Visions when they when they created The Jetsons but it’s really amazing to see something that was done in the 60s how it sort of materializes today uh so I I I I I loved it fantastic while you’re listening to the futurists I’m your host Brett King we’re just speaking to Stefan Lindstrom we’re going to be right back after this break we’re going to dive into the future of Regulation government policy setting and all of those good things that we we just got into but stay tuned we’ll be right back

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welcome back to the futurists I’m your host Brett King with my co-host Rob turc we’re speaking to Stefan Lindstrom this week as the minister of the future effectively for uh for Finland but before we come back to Stefan Robert what news from the future do you have for us this week

Brett this week news from the future is coming to us from uh one of my favorite Publications which is um Foreign Affairs and this week There’s an article called The End of the Age of sanctions and I recommend people check it out um you know this uh this entire incident that’s been happening for the past year this this uh conflict in the Ukraine the Russian invasion um has raised people’s awareness of sanctions as an instrument of foreign policy people have been quite aware of it and I think people have had you know General citizens who are not that familiar with the process have had maybe high expectations that sanctions would cause Russia to change its policy or cause some kind of massive Mayhem inside the Russian economy quite manifestly that’s not the case it certainly made a dent on the Russian economy but it has made more than a dent and it’s going to cause the Russians to have to scramble to find alternatives for the things that have been um that they’re sanctioned about you know the economic transactions payment systems and the ability to do Imports but it hasn’t really brought their economy to its knees it hasn’t stopped them from Prosecuting the War uh they’ve continued and so I think it started to raise a question about sanctions the article in foreign affairs uh from December 27th actually brings up several interesting issues but it posits a future where sanctions are no longer as effective and let me just Briefly summarize sanctions for the folks that are listening in the 1990s the United States used economic sanctions against Libya and at the time we were trying to track down the terrorists that did the lockerbee incident you may recall that but even then Bill Clinton uh the president at the time in 1998 said that the United States was sanctions happy that we were over reliant on economic sanctions as an alternative to diplomatic pressure or an alternative to military intervention it’s sort of like the third option and it’s the easiest option for an American president to do because he doesn’t require much support to do it he can simply decree sanctions um so the United States impose unilateral sanctions in 1990s and they were somewhat effective with Livia then in 2012 the United States cut off Iran from the Swift banking system and Swift is a global messaging system that enables all International payments uh if you’re if you’re a bank you’re typically going to settle transactions through Swift and that’s a network of a dozen U.S banks that the transactions must go through so that’s a pretty effective instrument we cut off uh Iran in 2012. then in 2014 when Russia invaded the Crimea in the Ukraine sort of like the precursor to the current War um the United States and a number of other countries organized a set of sanctions on on not just the Russian Nation but also certain individuals in the Russian certain leadership in the Russia in 2017 under President Trump the United States got into a trade war with Beijing and imposed some unilateral economic sanctions there and then of course in 2022 the United States in concert with a number of nations imposed a heavy round of sanctions on Russia what a lot of people don’t know is what the reaction has been so this is a history now that spans 15 years um but all the way back to the 1990s if you will if you go back to Bill Clinton a lot of countries are starting to organize a way to get around sanctions and this is one of the reasons why the Russians have been so resilient the way is to get around those sanctioned systems include currency swap agreements where trade deals are settled with currency swaps in other words you can avoid the Swift banking system entirely you’re just going currency to currency and the Russians have been quite Adept at doing this alternative payment systems and alternative Payment Systems uh would include things like um the Chinese the Chinese has set up an alternative it’s called the Shanghai Corporation organization um and that’s uh that’s enabling settlements in local currencies um the Chinese have also created a currency swap system with more than 60 Nations including Argentina Pakistan Russia South Africa South Korea turkey and the United Arab Emirates uh they’re currently conducting about 500 million billion dollars of trade uh through that system so it’s not insignificant this is nothing to rival the international banking system but it is working it is functioning and what they’re seeking to do is create sanctions proof economic trade systems and then finally the last technique is digital currencies and of course the leader here has been the Chinese government with the digital remindi and they are trying to use their economic Clouts to force countries to settle payments in uh digital remember that would be a way for them to utterly bypass the American banking system entirely cut the Americans out the Chinese make no secret of the fact that they would like to displace the United States from its roles a strong man in international payments um but that was greatly weaken the United States ability to impose sanctions on Nations so I recommend you check out the article it’s quite a long article but it’s full of fascinating facts and some information it was a surprise to me to see how far Advanced uh this kind of cooperation is and effectively to me the takeaway is this um just as overuse of antibiotics has created antibiotics resistant bugs basically we’re creating superbugs because we over we we’re over reliant on antibiotics so you know the use of that tool creates an even more powerful problem it seems that sanctions is working exactly the same way what we’re doing is we’re training countries that want to defy the United States or defy the Western order uh we’re training those countries to find alternative paths to conduct Commerce and to settle payments outside of the international banking system we’re effectively teaching them how to be sanctioned it’s proof so that’s it for the Deep dive now let’s go back to Stefan you know you you can just throw in artificial intelligence into the mix there or China’s Belton Road and you know you get all sorts of potential configurations Russia

um of course because the sanctions included MasterCard and Visa you couldn’t use Russian um credit cards or debit cards offshore that’s right um and so what the Russian Banks did is they signed up with union pay and they’ve now sent all their customers new cards on union pay so um you know that that business is not coming back to Mastercut and visa and it’s probably not coming back you know because so yeah pretty interesting and you know a couple weeks ago you and I had this discussion and it was a lively debate with Philip alvelda we’re talking about uh us the U.S attempt to prevent China from getting Advanced artificial intelligence chips those the semiconductors for AI um and and where I was sharing some information about the U.S um it’s a unilateral trade policy uh you know the trade restrictions or export restrictions on the the the equipment to make semiconductors and the semiconductors themselves we’re trying to prevent China from getting the Next Generation chips um both you and Philip were unified the idea that that’s they’re just going to find a way to work around it either through shell companies or offshore deals or third-party countries or they’ll cut deals with uh the Dutch company that manufactures that equipment and bypass the Americans and of course the Americans are trying very hard to create a coalition as we always do so we’re trying desperately to talk to the Taiwanese companies and the Dutch companies that manufacture that equipment but they’re under no particular compulsion to cooperate with us so we have to convince them to do that at the same time it’s also spurring the Chinese to create their own independent semiconductor industry uh so they’ll double down on their Investments for the US to enforce its view of of world Commerce and policy yeah I guess the question is who appointed the United States the policemen of the world yeah well that Stefan I mean you know China is doesn’t have the same aspirations in terms of global policy potentially the US does but maybe you know as an ambassadorial sort you know what’s your view of this you know um the the US is losing credibility it I think it has lost credibility over the last few years particularly with its handling of the pandemic and other things but you know where does this policy leadership come from in the future no that that’s really the the I have a one hour PowerPoint presentation on these issues you don’t have an hour to do a PowerPoint on this show yeah no no but it’s it’s also the the the leadership I think it is the I talk a lot about something called the Splinter net uh that the world is divided into three different kind of text spheres uh uh and and it’s all value based in in many ways you have the uh European model uh you where the consumer is put in the in the middle you have the American model with the uh companies are put in the middle and you have the Chinese model of other government owns all data and uh it depends a little bit on how to do it the question for us right now is really how do we sell our value base to the rest to Africa to Latin America to Asia uh it’s technologically based in a sense that do you choose huawei’s technology that is heavily governmental subsidized or actually governmental owned but we also know at the same time that all the data that is created uh regardless if it’s phone calls from the president or or or or or a single individual everything goes to China or do we go with the sort of uh our model in a sense that uh there are some rights for the individual there are some values on the background or what do we do and what we don’t do so this is really the big issues in in in the whole thing uh I don’t think the the it’s it’s also about the what we call the great decoupling uh so what we have done the last 20 years is that we have outsourced all sort of easy manufacturing to basically China and and uh it has created a big value uh increase for our middle class uh because we get all the consumption Goods really really cheap consumer goods really cheap uh without looking at sort of the the big well the long terms effects of it uh now when we look at the the semiconductor issues uh uh I mean the the USS has this new uh activity I think they put something like 57 billion dollars in in uh what I call home Shoring uh all the semiconductor activities and the EU is putting something like 43 billion to do exactly the same thing and the reason is it’s very simple in a sense that we are totally dependent on semiconductors for absolutely everything in our society the Chinese are maybe 10 years behind right now and the Gap is actually widening they’re not getting up on this but uh it’s really interesting to to see so this is this is why I do what I do because this is foreign policy it is a security policy uh this is not just a tech issue or or or trade issue anymore this is the core of foreign policy making right now so you’re saying that technology Independence or technology sovereignty is the core of foreign policy that’s where we are heading right now in in minutes by correlation a country that has a path dependency a country that’s dependent on a supplier an overseas supplier or a technology partner or technology provider that country has given up a measure of its sovereignty in essence yes yes wow because we are dependent on it so that means then what Brett was describing a moment ago that the world is starting to break up into different groups or what you refer to as the splinternet a moment ago um I see that happening not just original groups and not just technology with the Advent of uh of um Central Bank digital currencies we’re going to start to see I think trade groups as well sort of regional trade blocks that use a digital currency I think that’s a very possible outcome and certainly it’s clearly something that China is already striving to do and they’ve already struck deals with a number of nations to settle trade in in digital currency there is another resource in a sense that uh follow for instance what brics are doing uh more closely because brics is getting sort of more to it’s not only just sort of political entity right now it’s becoming a commodity and they’re doing a cbdc and they have their own own bank the brics bank that finances uh projects all over the world and so does the Chinese have an own bank so uh I’m sometimes questioning what what is the future for sort of the traditional Bretton Woods institutions uh the the IMF the World Bank and under WTO uh the Rivalry coming from all over right now and and uh if sometimes I say that maybe a little bit provocatively in that if I will be a dictator in an African country would actually go to the World Bank First and ask for loan or would I go to the Asian Recon infrastructure reconstruction but I cannot ask for a loan or would I go to the brics bank uh I’m not certain anymore I I the the maybe I would go to the other ones okay so Stefan help me understand this then so let’s let’s put on our futurist cap let’s let’s think about the future here a little bit um everything we’re describing sounds like it could be the end of globalization because globalization requires free trade or freeish trade uh it requires um a reserve currency which currently is the United States the Petro dollar right um and it requires um the ability for goods and services to move around the world everything we’re talking about though in the last five minutes in this conversation seems to be leaning the other direction towards trading blocks tightly integrated groups that work to together but don’t but create barriers to others who are outside of the Trading Group what’s your vision of the future do you see the globalization fragmenting into Regional trading blocks is that really possible that’s already happening uh no no question about it and uh yeah I wouldn’t call it globalization anymore I call it slow ballization uh it’s uh we need to have more control of the value chains uh and and uh because we are too dependent on them as well as a society at the same time also with the digitalization and with the sort of technological involvement the way how we create value has changed how does a company create value today it’s totally different from from from anything else and if you look at uh the the uh just the comparison between intangible versus tangible uh value at the stock market I think we are somewhere right now that the the the uh the tangible values of of the companies listed on the stock market uh is less than 10 90 is intangible it’s it’s IEP it’s data it’s it’s uh Talent these kind of issues so the way you create the value is it has changed dramatically the last 10 years uh and and of course it’s good for the for for the people uh and that we have free trade in in in in many ways uh and and but it’s going to be more more blocks like you like you said and the U.S is of course tremendous in a sense that you have a really well functioning uh internal Market of almost 400 million people in the EU we have an internal Market that is not functioning with 400 million people uh but at the same time you have 1.4 billion in China and uh then you have the the different trading blocks and the free trade agreements that come in there but uh yeah this is uh they’re living in really really fascinating times okay so once you have training blocks then you’ve got rivalry and once you have rivalry then you’re going to have all sorts of kinds of competition that’s not limited to the Diplomatic or economic sphere and the kinds of competition I’m thinking about right now is cyber warfare um in my opinion we’ve been living through the Cold War version two let’s say cold war 2.0 we’ve been living through that for more than 10 years where the battlefield isn’t uh isn’t geographical the battlefield is on your computer and foreign actors are trying constantly to intervene to hack to steal data to get your identity uh to interfere with the business operations of companies to interfere with the operations of governments to find out what other foreign spy agencies or intelligence agencies are doing and so forth we’ve been living through that quite a while with analog systems and in your part of the world uh in the Nordic region in some respects you’ve been at the front line of Cold War 2.0 for many many years far longer than most Americans have even been aware of it I know from my visits to Finland and Estonia Lafayette and Lithuania those Baltic Nations those three Baltic Nations have been tormented by Russian hackers since the 1990s and they’ve been attempting to build digital democracies in those regions um but it’s been a constant battle because they’re they’re under constant assault from from non-government actors you know for from from hackers who aren’t necessarily affiliated with the government they work in perhaps in concert with um uh intelligence ages National Intelligence agencies but they’re Freelancers they’re what uh Vladimir Putin used to call a political entrepreneurs can you share with our audience a little bit about your experience of Cold War 2.0 I mean we divide it into two different parts in a sense we call it cyber operations and hybrid operations and and cyber is of course something that you do uh with a computer you you attack systems and you you put in a uh you know take out power plants and take hospitals Ransom and and all this other stuff uh hybrid is something a little bit different it’s trolling it’s it’s affecting uh uh you know mind manipulation in in many ways but hybrid can also be in a sense that you you what the Russians did to Finland some 10 years ago is that they opened all the borders for refugees from from Syria and Iraq and all this other stuff and suddenly we have 50 000 people showing up at our borders uh so so this is another issue how how you can do it so if you go back to the to the big picture wow what I think is really at stake is that Russia has nothing to offer uh it it if you look at what narrative does uh Putin present to Young Russians why should they stay in Russia uh it’s only energy what they have to to offer it can you name any other export product of Russia yeah heavier side of energy and raw material uh yeah not not too too that big amount and and uh the that’s actually most of the vodka brands are owned by the Americans so so Stoll is and and the other ones which is a kind of fun detail even Finlandia sung by Americans today uh but the the what keeps Russia how can they make themselves uh uh useful in in the global global side they can’t so the only thing what they try to do is they want to have a sort of they don’t want the unipolar world where the U.S is uh above everybody else they want to have a sort of multiple a world run and they would have a meaning but what they have been doing the last 10 15 years is that they don’t have a meaning to anyone uh except as a raw material producer and they’ve been really skillful in in creating these issues through hybrid through cyber uh attacks I mean by financing populist movements in Europe and and working creating uh through different kind of of uh uh hybrid planning then they’ve uh pushed these green values forward in a sense that uh nuclear power is not good then and uh shut down Germany and German has been totally totally dependent on on Russian energy so that’s what they can do but they can’t do anything else really and we’ve known this of course for for ages and and that’s why we are pretty good at it that’s why the estonians are really good at this digital issues these cyber issues is that they’ve been been subject to this since yeah since the early 90s now in the United States if you were to air these comments publicly here people would push back some people would laugh at you they’d say oh come on this is a crazy conspiracy because of all the disinformation that that we get in the United States which was which is called mainstream media yeah sorry Robert that’s okay so I think that uh I think the United States the the our politicians at least some of our politicians are deeply influenced by these cyber operations or hybrid operations that you’re describing so much so that they’re unconsciously parroting the the line that is produced by but you know it’s a closed-loop system in terms of the news Cycles in the states that’s the problem you know even you know the first thing I noticed as a as an immigrant moving to the U.S is you turn on you know fox or MSNBC and you know they do the news and at the end of it say world news in Florida today and it’s like you know like um it’s very you know myelopic internal internally focused the US and and you know there’s uh you know when you do get offshore you do see a different news cycle significantly different news Cycles offshore so that alone you know tells you that something funny is going on but um Stefan I’m I’m sort of really interested in where this takes us because you know presumably the the I mean China is struggling now more with trying to control information we saw that recently with the uh the response to covid-19 um you know the zero covered uh stuff you know we saw it previously a few years ago with pollution in Beijing but the US is also going to struggle I think I think with this but playing this out over 30 40 years particularly with the impact of climate change and artificial intelligence you know um you talked about that balance between the collective needs and the individualistic needs and that sort of playing off is sort of part of these two systems sort of clashing together where do you see you know climate AI you know and its effect on employment and so forth taking this sort of balance in terms of policy towards the greater good versus corporations and individual Focus difficult of course to say but the I think the U.S is still going to have have the lead massively uh in in uh if you if you walk around at any campus in in California I live next door to the UCLA campus in for nine years uh they they attract all the best talent in the whole world uh and and when you turn all those people all those great minds together great things come out of it and that’s what we see coming out from Silicon Valley time and time and time again uh and and uh it’s kind of interesting you know you can’t have a recession in the U.S at the moment because if you have full employment as as you have and there are three tiviness of of that market is is going to be huge uh Europe is going to struggle in in many ways uh because we every time there is a possibility some individual country wants to take advantage of the situation so it doesn’t really work uh we really have to to pull our act together and we need to be real Europeans if we want to have any kind of survival on the whole thing China is going to struggle big time uh and the reason is demographics they had 45 years the one child policy and in the next uh 25 30 years there’s going to be 300 million Chinese disappearing and and that at some point the people are going to react to to uh the the way they actually handle handle things and and uh treat individuals so do you think do you think that’s going to result in sort of a large-scale immigration policy shift there they’re going to try and attract uh new Talent into the country uh China well China is in a situation that people are not moving to China people are moving away from China as in Russia they’re going to be they’re going to be different new hubs coming up uh for for sure and and where they are uh which is I mean the the Gulf States are doing a tremendous job in attracting people right now and and uh it’s really fascinating I mean just the way they think uh I was at the consensus 2022 in Austin uh this summer and the I met the guy from from the the Ministry of Education of Abu Dhabi and he explained to me that they’re going to set up the program with uh was it 100 students that are going to study web 3.0 100 students studying a blockchain and and 100 students studying and digitalization and I sort of so when are you starting oh this fall okay so what’s the curriculum we don’t know yet but what we do know is that all these people are going to have jobs for life because uh you know we are just creating it right now uh so so this this kind of approach is what what uh I I find it really fascinating the way they think forward in in many ways and they have the money to do it I mean they’re going to run out of money when they run out of hydrocarbons but but but that’s why they have the funds and all this other stuff this is what they do I think that’s going to be one hub for sure well Dubai show the buy should fit has been fairly successful with that uh and and uh then of course we don’t know where the climate is going uh the climate change is causing causing uh problems all over the world right now uh is it going to be too hot to live in south of Europe you know you see the issues the terrains and the storms in California right now and and uh issues what we have all over the world so so we don’t know where it’s heading same thing in in India I mean in in a sense that there are 1.5 billion people right now what if they have a mean in India uh uh you know there’s not one million people moving there’s 150 billion people that starts to move and there’s nowhere nothing in this world that can can stop that uh so so in in this scenario building we are playing with really big issues uh and the answers are not that clear but uh it it seems to me who’s got to be in the Forefront yeah it seems to me Stefan that this is like a a almost a philosophical shift for Humanity yes it’s technology yes it’s Global policy and so forth but all of these things happening at the same time and at the rate they’re happening require us to think about the world in different ways is that too is that two philosophical a perspective uh not really I call it a paradigm shift really and and the funny that you say that because the the presentation that I do many times right now it starts really with these issues is that I I talked to a famous industrialist in Finland a couple of weeks ago and he said that he hasn’t seen so many challenges and opportunities in the world since the 1940s there are so many many issues on the Forefront right now and and so so we are willing you know we have the tech to fix a lot of these climate issues that you’re talking about of course but we don’t have the incentives to at this point um but we will if climate change is as bad as we expect it to be particularly with food scarcity and Eco refugees those two issues alone could push us into fairly new territory from a global policy perspective and you know and so forth so but that a big reason why that’s happening uh Brad is is that we’ve been hypnotized for the last 50 years with a belief that the only solutions can come from Private Industry they have to come from the private sector that government’s incapable of solving problems and the kinds of problems we’re talking about can only be solved by governments cooperating with governments corporations cooperating for the common good which is not it doesn’t exist Brad come on there’s no such thing corporations are there to maximize profit that’s their job but that’s the that’s the that’s the floor right that’s that’s the floor in capitalism now is that that we’ve run that to its logical conclusion almost yeah and you’re never going to get the people who created the problem to solve the problem right they’re not the right people to solve the problem so I don’t I think relying on the private sector we’ve we’ve maxed that out we’ve had incredible growth with Incredible problems that have been generated at this stage it’s going to require some vision and some foresight from some group that doesn’t have an economic stake in the outcome a group that can rise above that so this is this is the question for Stefan to sort of really bring the show to the end then Stefan if you were designing a team globally to tackle these issues you know you talked about all these different ambassadors you know Denmark and Finland and and others and you know how how would you structure a Super Regional Think Tank policy setting you know team that could really make a difference here uh well I I would go back to the values immediately in a sense that what values are are those that we want to operate on and I actually put a High Hope on on the younger generation that comes up now because I I see that they they think so differently than we do uh of course what point part is is the the way they consume media and the way they get information uh that that’s really the the one and uh then then it’s really to to create opportunities that are available both for the governments and for the private sector for the companies because if either one I mean nobody can do it alone uh but to get these things to work together and if you have the right values I think you you you can go forward and I I I have hope I’m still The Optimist on on that side well that’s a good way to finish off the show I think great we can be optimistic you know but there are some challenges but I think it’s just you know I think the message is it it’s going to require us to work more and more together in the future and that’s the tricky that’s the difficult part I want to thank very much thank you Stefan uh the The Finnish ambassador to digitalization and Technology thank you very much for taking time today to join us on the futurist it’s been a great pleasure catching up with you and hearing your perspectives and it’s always helpful for us in the United States to get an alternative perspective from someplace else in the world and you’ve got a very strong one so thank you for joining us it’s been a great pleasure Stefan is there a place where people can find out more about what you’re you’re doing uh is there a way for them to track you on Twitter or LinkedIn or someplace else uh LinkedIn I’m active too I’m I’m sort of I blocked out Twitter now for for a while yesterday not because of a mosque but because of the the it’s just too much too much information flowing uh uh so so that that that’s LinkedIn is somewhere where you can always connect with me okay and if you look for Lindstrom Stefan Lindstrom there don’t go for Stefan Lindstrom the cello player uh who turns up a lot in the search results you’re looking for Stefan Lindstrom who is the ambassador to digitization and Technology For The Finnish foreign Ministry I’m just gonna go and learn cello after this just to frustrate Justice um I want to give a big thanks to our producer um Elizabeth severins our engineer Kevin hershon and the rest of the team at provoke media you folks that do a great job of making the show happen we appreciate it and thanks Brett for all your support as you travel around the world helping us crack down other interesting people to do the show right those are listening it would be great if you could uh share the show with the friends if you like the show please give us a five star review and let other people know that you enjoyed it that helps other people discover the show and it’s been working really well so we appreciate those who’ve done it because uh the numbers of listeners continues to rise and that’s great fun for us that also helps us expand our Network and find other interesting features to bring on the show so we would welcome more of that kind of support in the future we’ll be here every week with another person who is building or inventing or designing the future of their vision and we will see you in the future fabulous

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thank you