A crisis video meeting, like something out of the movies

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Updated 26 March 2020

A crisis video meeting, like something out of the movies

  • with video technology now so common and reliable, world leaders won’t have to rely on a WhatsApp group chat

The world is facing an existential crisis … thousands are dying … stock markets tumbling …  economies decimated … global leaders meet by video link and chart a path to avoid looming disaster. It sounds like a scene from a sci-fi movie.

Actually, it IS a scene from a sci-movie; from several, in fact. From the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  to the whole Marvel Universe, no disaster is complete without a video conference to explore the options, often followed by an appeal to Captain America for assistance (assuming Tony Stark in unavailable).

The Marvel equivalent of the G20 is the World Security Council, who meet by holographic projection, beamed to their HQ from wherever they are in the world.

Without that technology, how could Samuel L. Jackson possibly tell them that the world was under threat from Loki? And that Nick Fury’s “response team,” the “handful of freaks” dismissed by the council but known to us all as the Avengers, were on the case?

In movies, of course, communication by video was taking place long before it was technically possible. Contrary to popular belief, it did not begin with the Jetsons, the 1960s US cartoon family equipped with jetpacks and robots. That honor belongs to the Austrian-German-American filmmaker Fritz Lang, who introduced the first videophone in his 1927 silent classic Metropolis.

Since then, James Bond has communicated with M via a video screen in his Aston Martin, and an astronaut has seen his family at home via “Picturephone” in 2001: A Space Odyssey — at a cost, incidentally, of $1.70, which seems even less likely now than it did in 1968.

Curiously, in the one movie most relevant to today’s events — Contagion, the 2011 blockbuster directed by Steven Soderbergh — world leaders take a back seat, and it is left to Kate Winslet and Jennifer Ehle to save the world from a rampant viral infection.

At least, with video technology now so common and reliable, world leaders won’t have to rely on a WhatsApp group chat …

JINPING: This is a bit rubbish, can we switch to WeChat?

Donald is typing …

BORIS: Pffwoar!! And, er, um, no ifs, no buts, we’re leaving!

EMMANUEL: Is it time for lunch?

Donald is typing…

ANGELA: @emmanuel Do you have any of that nice Camembert?

VLADIMIR: I need to pop out for a while, but I’ll still be president when I come back.

Vladimir has left the group

DONALD: Covfefe
 


G20 discusses long-term vision for the digital economy

Updated 05 June 2020

G20 discusses long-term vision for the digital economy

  • Members from G20 countries, guest countries, international and regional organizations met virtually

RIYADH: The G20 Digital Economy Taskforce (DETF) held consecutive virtual meetings on June 3 to June 4 to discuss a comprehensive approach to digital economy policymaking and the future of digitalization.

Members from G20 countries, guest countries, international and regional organizations, addressed the relevance of digitalization in maintaining business operations following the COVID-19 outbreak.

READ ARAB NEWS' DEDICATED G20 SPOTLIGHT HERE

Data Flows, Smart Cities, Digital Economy measurement and Digital Security were also on the agenda as well as the Connecting Humanity 2030 initiative.

Delegates also discussed digitalization in the context of the current crisis with a long-term vision for the best use of digital tools to build economic resiliency and promote job retention.

Prior to the DETF meeting, on June 1, the Dialogue on Trustworthy AI in Pandemic Response brought together experts from both the public and private sectors, and academia to explore the optimal role of government in Artificial Intelligence.

The potential use of the technology in diverse sectors was raised, along with how AI can be an efficient tool in pandemic responses. The Dialogue also examined the G20’s role in policy discussions and the long-term inclusion of AI on the G20 agenda.

G20 Digital Economy Ministers will review and continue the work of the Taskforce at their meeting on July 22-23.