Speech by Eric Xu at Swiss Digital Initiative (SDI)


Your honorable President Ueli Maurer,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon!

To begin with, I'd like to thank President Maurer for inviting me to today's conference. It's unlike any I have ever attended before. Previous conferences were normally about how digital transformation or technology would create value for human beings. But today's conference focuses on the risks of digital technology and how to apply ethical standards in the digital era.

Despite my many years of following AI developments, careful study of the Swiss Digital Initiative has taught me something new about how AI will change our society.

Clearly, many countries, companies, and individuals have drafted countless statements, value propositions, and principles about digital technology. China is no exception. On August 26, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He set out the four principles for AI development in China, requiring it to:

  • Create value for humanity,
  • Balance efficiency and employment,
  • Respect and protect privacy, and
  • Adhere to ethical standards.

The ethics of technology has long been an area of focus for me. Today, I'd like to take this opportunity to share some of my viewpoints about it.

Throughout mankind's long history, technology ethics has evolved alongside technological advancements. Simply put, the ethics of technology relates to the relationships between humanity and nature.

In ancient times, when humanity was overwhelmed by nature, these ethics focused on respecting nature. Since the Industrial Revolution though, human inventions have often become more powerful than nature. This has caused the focus to shift in greater favor of humanity. Technological advances have come hand-in-hand with environmental pollution and climate change.

In recent years as information technologies have continued to develop, especially data-driven applications and AI, human beings are no longer simply the creator of technology. We have become an object of its influence. Human beings need to adjust to the issues caused by the technologies we have created. This further affects the relationships between human beings and nature. The impacts will extend around the world and have huge implications on our future and nature.

Therefore, I believe the technology ethics for the digital era should be established, refined, and implemented in a way that puts people first, benefits all, and ensures harmonious coexistence between people and nature.

Different countries have different views on ethical standards for digital technology. These views are influenced by their different stages of development as well as their history and culture. These views also vary between generations and between the richer and the poorer. So while pushing for implementation of digital ethics, the SDI should also respect such differences and the choices made by different countries according to their different situations.

The SDI is clearly committed to fostering an inclusive and participatory multi-stakeholder process. I believe that it will contribute greatly to the digitization of countries around the world.

Digital technology can create value for humanity while helping us mitigate potential risks. Value creation and risk do not necessarily come hand-in-hand. Technological innovation can help achieve well-coordinated development.

Take privacy protection as an example. At Huawei, we consider privacy protection a basic requirement and take privacy into account as early as in the design phase. We have also built privacy protection into our entire product development process. This helps us ensure that our products meet privacy standards and requirements.

We have also doubled down on our efforts in technology innovation to maximize value while ensuring solid privacy protection. For example, we use differential privacy technologies for irreversible anonymization in application information. This improves user experiences while ensuring that user privacy is well protected.

I'm proud to tell you that every day, about half of all people around the world are connected with equipment provided by Huawei. Of course, Huawei is now best known for our 5G products.

In Switzerland, Huawei has helped Swisscom deliver broadband connections exceeding 100 Mbit/s to 85% of households. We have also helped Sunrise roll out its nation-wide mobile communications and 5G networks. These efforts have made Switzerland the home of Europe's highest quality mobile networks, and the first European country to achieve wide-scale commercial use of 5G.

Huawei has also worked with Schindler to create an innovative Internet of Elevators connecting hundreds of thousands of elevators and escalators worldwide, greatly reducing operation and maintenance costs.

Looking ahead, Huawei will continue to spend heavily in R&D and to provide advanced products and solutions that meet technology ethics. Through continuous innovation, we want to help Switzerland maintain its leadership in the digital era.

Over the past few decades, Huawei has provided innovative ICT infrastructure and smart devices to carriers, enterprises, governments, and consumers from around the world. Our offerings have driven digital transformation and created great value for the global community. It's our belief that to ensure healthy development of society, it's important to actively support the creation, refinement, and implementation of technology ethics, and to help countries define their own digital agenda so that they all flourish in this digital world. Our vision of this is crystal clear and our responsibilities are unshirkable.

Huawei will actively participate in the further refinement of the SDI and the promotion of technology ethics around the world.

Thank you!


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