Category Archives: digital

Fujitsu inaugurate Blockchain Innovation Center in Brussels

Fujitsu opened a new international Blockchain Innovation Center in Brussels on March 21, 2018. The center undertake research with external partners, collaborating on specific projects to explore the technology’s potential and limitations. Fujitsu’s aim is to develop the potential of blockchain beyond financial services as a new architecture for information systems and sectorsof all kinds.

Brussels was selected by Fujitsu for the geographical, political, technological and linguistic advantages it offers to international organizations considering applications of blockchain technology, making it an attractive testing-ground for novel co-creation initiatives. The centerhas an international remit. Alongside local projects in Belgium, Fujitsu’s co-creation model has resulted in a number of international projects, including projects in Germany, UK, the Netherlands and participation EU Horizon 2020 projects.

Blockchain represent a big opportunity in Europe. Many people think that Blockchain beeng solely about financial services bitcoin and cryptocurrency. It is not. I think Blockchian could be the world glue or oil for the world economy and the public sector. So that make sense to be in the heart of Europe in a country with a long track record of innovation like Belgium.” Explained Duncan Tait, CEO of Fujitsu Americas and EMEIA.

One particular area of expertise that Fujitsu plans to develop in the Blockchain Innovation Center is the use of blockchain for the design and implementation of Smart City services, focusing not only on technology, but also on important aspects of the cityof the future, such as sociological and demographic factors, societal organization, economic functioning and ecological challenges. The center will support and encourage research, development and innovation, both for Brussels and for other cities, throughthe funding of innovative projects by companies, research organizations and the non-commercial sector. Although the initial focus is on Smart Cities, the goal is to deliver scalable, secure, business-ready blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) solutions in a wide variety of industries.

The first blockchain R&D project being developed at the center is called “Blockchain as enabler of services in the context of Smart Cities”, and is being conducted in collaboration with Innoviris, the Brusselsinstitute for the encouragement of scientific research and innovation. The 24-month project is focused on establishing blockchain knowledge and expertise for the design and implementation of services in the context of Smart Cities, in areas such as citizen participation and elections, and the interaction between smart devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) and a multimodal supply chain. It consists of two main tracks: to build fundamental knowledge about the use of blockchain for Smart City applications, and then to apply this knowledge to specific use cases, with the aim of creating meaningful business solutions.

Mr Kris Peeters, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister, commented that “Belgium is the ideal place to establish an international skills center such as the Fujitsu Blockchain Innovation Center. Not only it is located in the center of Europe, but it has also made the innovation the engine of its economy. In addition, our compatriots have excellent language skills, making them valuable contributors to multinational companies or international projects. It is important that all levels of government continue to work actively with innovative companies to support the overall economic fabric of Belgium.

Fujitsu has already identified more than ten projects and multiple European cities aiming to fulfill their ambitions to become Smart Cities have also expressed interest in collaborationwith Fujitsu. The Blockchain Innovation Center it is expected to lead to co-creation relationships with international and Belgian public bodies, customers, partners andthe Hyperledger Project (see Alternative Blockchain platformsbelow) to extend the technology beyond the current focus of proof of concepts into scalable, secure and business-ready DLT solutions.

What is blockchain?
Blockchain is essentially a database infrastructure, originally designed for the crypto-currency Bitcoin as an alternative to traditional government-guaranteed money and bank-controlled payments. What makes this technology special is the fact that the data is multiplied and stored across a network of nodes. This data distribution is the foundation and strength of blockchain technology, as it enables trusted information storage without a central controlling body (or trusted third party often referred to as an ‘authority’) by means of a network of computers (nodes). New transactions are sent to the blockchain, where they are encrypted before being sent to every node for validation and, once validated, stored in blockchain building blocks. Every new block is linked by cryptography (hash tree) to the previous block (which, in turn, is securely attached to its predecessor block). This makes the chain immutable: every change in one block entails change in every subsequent block on every node. Blockchain is said to provide trustworthiness like traditional ledgers. Therefore, it is usually referred to as Distribution Ledger Technology.

Watch the full interview with Duncan Tait, CEO of Fujitsu Americas and EMEIA:

Advertisements

Artificial intelligence and ethical standards

 

The Commission has opened today applications for a group on artificial intelligence (AI) to gather expert input and rally a stakeholder alliance.

Also today, the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE), an independent advisory body to the Commission, has published a statement on artificial intelligence. The expert group will be tasked to advise the Commission on how to unite a broad and diverse community of stakeholders in a ‘European AI Alliance’; support the implementation of the upcoming European initiative on artificial intelligence; and come forward by the end of the year with draft guidelines for the ethical development and use of artificial intelligence based on the EU’s fundamental rights. The guidelines will be drafted following a wide consultation and building on today’s statement by EGE. Applications to join the expert group in artificial intelligence can be submitted until 9 April and the Commission aims to set this group up by May. The group will gather and build on the work done by other experts which is relevant to artificial intelligence, such as the high-level strategy group for industrial technologies (intermediate report) and the expert group on liability and new technologies. For the latter a call for applications was also launched today. This expert group will assist the Commission in analysing the challenges related to the existing liability framework.

Stop geo-blocking

This new EU law on geo-blocking is an important step towards an even more competitive and integrated Digital Single Market, for both consumers and traders. It also represents another milestone in the fight against the discrimination of consumers based on their nationality or place of residence, which should never be taking place in our united Europe. We have proven that the European Union can deliver concrete results for the citizens all over Europe, bringing positive changes in their daily lives.” Said Róża Thun (EPP, PL), rapporteur.

Online buyers will have wider and easier cross-border access to products, hotel bookings, car rentals, music festivals or leisure park tickets in the EU.

The new rules will ban the “geo-blocking” of buyers browsing websites in another EU country, so as to enable them to  choose from which website they  buy goods or services, without being blocked or automatically re-routed to another website due to their nationality, place of residence or even their temporary location.

Traders will have to treat online shoppers from another EU country in the same way as local ones,  i.e. grant them access to the same prices or sales conditions, when they:

  • buy goods (e.g. household appliances, electronics, clothes) which are delivered to a member state to which the trader offers delivery in his general conditions, or are collected at a location agreed by both parties in an EU country in which the trader offers such option (traders would not have to deliver in all EU countries, but buyers should have the option to pick up the package in a place agreed with the trader),
  • receive electronically supplied services not protected by copyright, such as cloud services, firewalls, data warehousing, website hosting, or
  • buy a service which is supplied in the premises of the trader or in a physical location where the trader operates, e.g. hotel stays, sports events, car rentals, music festivals or leisure park tickets.

Treating shoppers differently based on the place of issuance of a credit or debit card will also be forbidden. While traders remain free to accept whatever payment means they want, they may not discriminate within a specific payment brand based on nationality.

EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum

The European Commission launched today the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum with the support of the European Parliament, represented by Jakob von Weizsäcker, responsible for the recent report on virtual currencies.

The Blockchain Observatory and Forum will highlight key developments of the blockchain technology, promote European actors and reinforce European engagement with multiple stakeholders involved in blockchain activities.  Blockchain technologies, which store blocks of information that are distributed across the network, are seen as a major breakthrough, as they bring about high levels of traceability and security in economic transactions online. They are expected to impact digital services and transform business models in a wide range of areas, such as healthcare, insurance, finance, energy, logistics, intellectual property rights management or government services. The Commission has been funding blockchain projects through the European Union’s research programmes FP7 and Horizon 2020 since 2013. Until 2020, it will fund projects that could draw on blockchain technologies with up to €340 million. The press release and a factsheet are available online.

EU commitment for Digital Technologies in Development policy

The European Council adopts conclusions on ‘Mainstreaming digital solutions and technologies in EU development policy’ and reaffirms the EU and Member States’ commitment to support Digital Technologies and Services in developing countries as powerful enablers of inclusive growth and sustainable development, as stated in the new European Consensus on Development.

Digitalisation is an essential driver for achieving the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It can contribute to achieving progress in areas such as gender equality, good governance and the rule of law, migration, health, education, agriculture, energy and climate change, and sustainable job creation. Digital for Development will follow a rights-based approach encompassing all human rights and freedoms, promote democratic governance and the rule of law.

Moreover the Council welcomes the publication of the Commission Staff Working Document on Digital4Development (D4D), which provides a framework for mainstreaming digitalisation into EU development policy and identifies four priority areas with an immediate focus mainly in Africa. In this direction the Council underlines the need to promote D4D as a comprehensive framework in all developing countries focusing on those where digital needs and opportunities are the greatest.

In the document conclusions the Council invites the Commission to swiftly implement the D4D approach through a series of concrete and demand-driven actions to be launched during the 2017-2020 period. It further calls on the Commission to bring successful pilot projects to scale. For this reason the EU Council looks forward to progress in developing digital infrastructure, promoting e-governance and digital skills, strengthening the digital economy and fostering start-up ecosystems. Digital start-ups in creative and cultural industries should also be promoted in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.

The private sector plays a critical role in promoting digital for development, in particular in terms of investments, innovation, market knowledge and expertise. The Council underlines the importance of leveraging additional sources of funding, and welcomes in that regard the launch of the External Investment Plan and the creation of a dedicated investment window on digitalisation within the European Fund for Sustainable Development as a major innovative tool to mobilise public and private investment and to support the digital economy in partner countries. Finally the Council stresses the importance of mainstreaming digitalisation in all other investment windows in order to create synergies.

Croatia joins EU next generation supercomputers project

We are very pleased that Croatia joins this ambitious European project. Supercomputers are increasingly used to solve complex societal challenges that need large computational efforts, such as DNA sequencing, early detection and treatment of diseases, climate modelling and cryptography. We encourage other Member States and countries associated to the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to participate too and sign the declaration”. Said vice-President Ansip, responsible for the Digital Single Market, and Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.

Croatia is the 13th country to sign the European declaration on high-performance computing (HPC). The initiative aims at developing European high-performance computers that would rank among the world’s top three by 2022-2023. Croatian Minister for Science and Education Blaženka Divjak signed the declaration this morning in BrusselswithRoberto Viola, Director General of European Commission’s DG CONNECT. HPC is a strategic resource for the future of EU’s scientific leadership and industrial competitiveness. The EuroHPC declaration was originally launched in March 2017 during the Digital Day and signed by France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Five other countries have since joined the initiative: Belgium in June, Slovenia in July, Bulgaria and Switzerland in October and Greece in November. The signatories of this declaration have committed to work together to establish a world-class high-performance computing ecosystem capable of at least 1018 calculations per second (so-called exascale computers).

Technology embedded in every aspect of working life

Dr Joseph Reger Fujitsu’s EMEA CTO

Technology already surrounds us in the workplace, but we are about to enter an age where it will become embedded in every aspect of working life.

In the vison of Fujitsu’s Work place by 2025,artificial intelligence will deliver a huge leap forwards in enhancing the employee experience, by generating new levels of insight into employee behavior, preferences and context. AI will also play a key role in defending against an escalating cyber security threat, which will increase in sophistication as more areas of the business – from the office entry system to the coffee machine – become connected to the Internet of Things.

As Dr Joseph Reger Fujitsu’s EMEA CTO  explained:  “The security strategy for larger corporations makes it difficult for them to engage with smaller organisations and they are not willing to open up their critical systems to a level that makes it more vulnerable. Instead they will look to work with partners that have trusted systems that enable this collaboration”.

Fujitsu Forum 2017

 

At Fujitsu forum 2017 in Munich we asked to Dr. Reger the human aspects of technology:

  • How IT today is closer to human being?

Fujitsu is a company where responsible business conduct is very important, it is in the company values, and the company rules on how we behave and conduct business. The responsible business require thinking about the consequences of the technologies that we developed and the way we use it or the customer use it. In the early development when we discovered a particular development can cause certain ethical issues we feel obliged to look at the problem that can arise and what can be done to control or at least discuss them. AI is in a development stage today, for this reason we need to discuss and have a societal debate on the consequences, not only because such a powerful technology can be used as a weapon but also for other ethical consequences such as the job market aspects.

  • Could you explain the concept of Human Centric intelligent Society?

Fujitsu arrive at an important pillars in the technology strategy that needs to be human centric. The humans are in the centre of our interest. Our technology development is intended to help people to have better life, more comfortable life but also is addressing the big issue that human society has in terms of complexity we created in urban areas and so on. We clearly recognise that there is a need to use information technology to improve that situation. The humankind built an infrastructure that is not serving only our needs but also putting the human actor in the centre.

Watch the full interview:

Henry Borzi

« Older Entries