Data is ‘oil of the future,’ Dubai government summit told

Mohamed Al-Gergawi, UAE minister for cabinet affairs and the future
Updated 11 February 2018

Data is ‘oil of the future,’ Dubai government summit told

DUBAI: Data is the “oil of the future,” Mohammad Al-Gergawi, UAE minister for cabinet affairs and the future, told the opening session of the World Government Summit in Dubai.
A packed audience heard the minister set out the agenda for the three-day event, which has attracted 4,000 leaders from the worlds of business and economic and public policy. Digital communications giants such as Google and Facebook would soon know more about individuals than governments do, Al-Gergawi said.
“By 2045, we will be able to transfer and upload the contents of the human mind to a data center. Governments must be prepared for these coming changes. The aim of this summit is to find answers and set priorities to meet these challenges and opportunities.”
The theme of the summit is “shaping future governments,” and Al-Gergawi detailed the challenges policymakers will face in health, artificial intelligence, crypto currencies and their impact on global finance, climate change and the issues of digital connectivity.
Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum, who also spoke at the opening session, harked back 10 years to the onset of the global financial crisis, which he said threatened a series of other crises in economies, in societies and between generations.
“We avoided a complete breakdown of the financial system, but there was a cost. The world’s debts now add up to 200 per cent of global GDP,” he said.
Schwab said most experts, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International Monetary Fund, were forecasting two years of  “sound, comprehensive growth,” but he said financial markets were still addicted to low interest rates and cheap capital.
There were still risks of a social crisis, he said, with levels of inequality and an unfair system of wealth distribution, as well as a generational crisis. “The world’s education systems do not satisfy the requirements of the 21st century.”
He highlighted global risks such as geopolitical issues, inequality, cybersecurity, gender parity and failures of leadership.
The pace of technological change was increasing all the time and adding to the pressures on policymakers, Schwab said. “Never before has the speed of change been so fast as in 2018. But also, never again will the speed of change be so slow as it is in 2018.”


Palantir listing may shine light on secretive Big Data firm

Updated 21 September 2020

Palantir listing may shine light on secretive Big Data firm

  • Palantir’s filing suggests a valuation of some $10 billion, down from a private value as high as $25 billion, according to Renaissance Capital

WASHINGTON: Perhaps the most secretive firm to emerge from Silicon Valley, Palantir Technologies is set for a stock market debut this month that may shed light on the Big Data firm specializing in law enforcement and national security.

Palantir platform has been used in the controversial practice of “predictive policing” to help law enforcement, detect medical insurance fraud and fight the coronavirus pandemic.

While Palantir’s data practices and algorithms are secret, the company claims it follows a road map which is, if anything, more ethical than its tech sector rivals.

It moved its headquarters to Denver this year, partly in an effort to set itself apart from its Silicon Valley rivals.

“Our company was founded in Silicon Valley. But we seem to share fewer and fewer of the technology sector’s values and commitments,” Palantir says in its prospectus. “From the start, we have repeatedly turned down opportunities to sell, collect or mine data.”

Palantir is opting for a direct listing, expected on Sept. 29. This will not raise capital but will allow shares to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Palantir’s filing suggests a valuation of some $10 billion, down from a private value as high as $25 billion, according to Renaissance Capital.

The company posted a loss of $580 million last year on revenue of $743 million. But it sees prospects improving as it offers solutions to what it calls “fractured health care systems, erosions of data privacy, strained criminal justice systems and outmoded ways of fighting wars,” its regulatory filing says.

Palantir’s biggest shareholder is Peter Thiel, an early Facebook investor and one of the rare tech executives who backed Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016.

“We are in a deadly race between politics and technology,” Thiel wrote in a 2009 essay for the libertarian Cato Institute.

Activists argue that Palantir’s technology — which scoops up financial records, social media posts, call records and internet records — enables unprecedented opportunities for mass surveillance with little oversight on privacy and fundamental rights.

Human rights activists have staged protests against Palantir after US agencies used its technology to hunt down illegal immigrants in the United States.

The immigration rights activist group Mijente claims Palantir technology is used in operations to track and arrest thousands of people “just for being undocumented.”

Palantir is a major player in “predictive policing,” a technology which critics say can amplify bias in law enforcement.

A 2017 research paper by University of Texas sociologist Sarah Brayne found the Palantir platform can connect seemingly unrelated bits of data for investigators, but can also lead to “a proliferation of data from police” collected without a warrant.

Palantir does not apologize for its work in national security and law enforcement.

Palantir points out that it created a privacy and civil liberties board in 2012, ahead of most tech rivals. It also rejects working with China as “inconsistent with our culture and mission.”