“We have yet to get serious about Internet governance”

The CEO of Dassault Systèmes believes that sovereign digital technologies in Europe are possible and that there should be boundaries for data circulation.

Why is it important for Europe to gain strategic autonomy in the digital space?

It seems to me that the central subject is data. All countries will understand that these data are sovereign, that is, they constitute sovereign space, like land, air, sea, and even radio frequencies. This means that it is political, that there are boundaries and there must be conventions.

Read also Economy Club | Rising tensions, digital revolution, war in Ukraine: what kind of sovereignty for Europe?

Much of what is designed and produced, be it services for citizens, patients, workers, students, relies on resources whose virtual representation is increasingly an additional element to what you live in your real life. As a result, the national territory is extended to the data. So, since digital technologies become a sovereign space for any country, why do we not have a digital identity (not to be confused with a digitized passport), i.e. opportunities for each of us, when we apply for services, to identify ourselves with a third-party guarantor called the state? Just like when I go to China or anywhere else, I have a third party guarantor showing my passport, this is the French state. And the conventions are set so that it’s mutual. We will need digital identification with a third party guarantor who will be of his nationality and not American or otherwise. Therefore, it is necessary to create an architecture of the digital territory, and then international conventions for the exchange of legal norms between countries.

Read also Economy Club: Europe, Awakening Sovereignty

Are you saying that now the digital representation of an object can be more valuable than the object itself?

Certainly. For example, the Boeing 777 is the first aircraft in the world to be fully digitally designed and tested using our tools. Today, if a third country buys this facility, dismantles it and tries to produce it, it will fail. If this country has digital data (materials, forms and processes), it will be able to reproduce them. For the first time in the history of mankind, what is stored in a digital representation goes beyond what people can observe in reality. Since then, where is the value?

So should the borders be restored when the Internet promised to abolish them?

To claim that this friendly Internet is open to everyone is to believe that democracy is global, that everyone agrees, and that these are Care Bears. I hope we learn from the two waves of giant global crises – the pandemic and the war in Ukraine – to tell ourselves that we still have to take this governance seriously again.

“The most sensitive aircraft engine parts today can be made using 3D printing, and they are.”

This is not about restoring borders everywhere, but about protecting our interests. 3D printing will radically change the product support system in the world. From the moment the part needs to be delivered to such a place, you no longer have any logistics. You produce an object in the place where you need it. This reality – we have been working on it for forty years – is extremely well mastered. Today, the most sensitive aircraft engine parts can be 3D printed, and they do.

However, if there is no identity, there is no third-party guarantor and there is no way to trace the presentation of intellectual material, processes, objects in such a way that laws can be applied. In music, the regulator has decided that after a certain number of sequences of notes, you have plagiarism. How to decide what is plagiarism when copying objects? We should not determine the rules, but the States, and in particular the European space. From this point of view, I welcome the initiatives of the Chinese. Through sensible policies, they have been able to develop their non-digital addiction ecosystem. This was the area…

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers “Dassault Systèmes joins the global data flow”

Isn’t it depressing to think that the digital world is also doomed to be closed in nationalistic and dangerous niches?

Do not remember that in this new digital world, we will suddenly have to control everything, regulate everything. A common architecture needs to be established in terms of trade conventions, rights and obligations, as has been done regularly in the past. We must be aware of what the economy of the 21st century is.as well as century, this is the concept of economy of use, integration between the service and the thing, to see what the consequences are. Europe has a unique opportunity to play the card in delivering next generation services.

Leave a Comment