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Unlocking new growth in the transatlantic economy

15 May 2017
Transatlantic Task Force

Where to next for the transatlantic economic relationship? How can the current success – as demonstrated by AmCham EU’s 2017 Transatlantic Economy report - be sustained in an increasingly competitive world?

By Nicholas Hodac, Chair of the AmCham EU Transatlantic TF, Government and Regulatory Affairs Executive, IBM Europe

At IBM, we believe the keys to unlocking a new wave of growth are digital. Exciting advances are being made all across the digital sphere – but here are three areas in particular that we believe will change how we work and live:

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

At IBM, we now look to the future through AI, or Cognitive lenses. Our AI platform – which we call Watson – helps oncologists in India who have 1600 patients get the information they need in 20 seconds instead of 20 minutes. For those with diabetes, AI can predict a hypoglycemic event three hours in advance. AI enables building managers to spot energy usage and equipment problems in advance, saving money and reducing carbon emissions. And much, much more. We are at the cusp of an AI era that will create innovation and jobs far beyond the technology industry. Our recently launched Watson IoT Center in Munich, for example, brings together 1,000 software experts, designers, scientists and researchers in what can be the catalyst for a Digital Innovation Hub attracting start-ups and investment.

2. Blockchain

We believe that Blockchain, a system for secure, shared recording of transactions, lives up to the current hype and will transform business and society. For example: the ocean freight industry accounts for 90% of goods in global trade yet transport remains highly dependent on a flood of paper that is never digitised. One shipment of goods between two ports can require sign-off from 30 different organisations. A lost form or late approval can leave a container stuck in port. IBM and Maersk recently announced a collaboration on Blockchain to help manage and track the paper trail of tens of millions of shipping containers globally by digitizing the supply chain process. This will not only minimise delays, it will reduce fraud and error, minimise waste and improve inventory management. Blockchain enables unprecedented secure transparency and rapidity across the global supply chain.

3. High Performance Computing

With important applications in medicine and healthcare, large-scale engineering and cutting-edge manufacturing, High Performance Computing (HPC) is a strategically important technology. The European Union has not only identified the importance of HPC for Europe’s future economic, societal and scientific progress, it aims to be at its forefront with a supercomputer based on EU technology among the top three worldwide by 2022. Just as we do in the US, IBM supports EU ambitions in developing exascale technologies (computing systems capable of at least a billion billon calculations per second) and providing access to the best HPC resources for industry and academia. We also believe there is significant opportunity for the US and the EU to work together on both HPC and quantum computing. By collaborating, we can achieve our goals more quickly and surely, and realise the potential benefits for both economies.

How to get there?

Smart policy decisions and collaboration between the private and public sectors are needed more than ever in order for these types of digital innovations to reach their potential. 

· Privacy Shield: The EU – US agreement on transatlantic data flows ensures that data continues to flow uninterrupted while providing essential protections for individual privacy. The first annual review of the agreement is in September 2017, and while we are encouraged by the wish on both sides to carry it forward, we strongly urge the U.S. Government to preserve the commitments underpinning the Privacy Shield.

· Transatlantic cooperation on the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence: It will be crucial to allow innovators in the EU and the US to be able to sell in each other’s markets without the need to adapt to different standards and legal requirements. We encourage the European Commission and US administration to exchange views on developing coherent approaches to AI.

At the cusp of the digital transformation of our economies and societies, countless new jobs and roles which today seem unimaginable will be created, generating prosperity. The US and Europe must continue to lead the way in this area and show that the most integrated economic relationship in the world is here to stay.