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Facial recognition on hold
Facial recognition technology has become a reality in our day-to-day lives, from tagging photos on Facebook to verifying identities at the airport or in police investigations. Nevertheless, the industry, which is projected grow to $7.0b by 2024, has been under pressure due to concerns about the reliability of this technology, especially since research has shown that the technology is less accurate when seeking to identify darker-skinned faces. The recent Black Lives Matter racial discrimination protests have amplified these concerns. Tech giants such as IBM, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are pausing or stepping away from their facial recognition technologies, recognizing the reputational risks associated with the use of this technology especially when it comes to bias and the potential for invasion of privacy. While facial recognition software has improved dramatically in recent years, legal controls on its use have failed to keep up. The technology can obviously be used for good, but checks and balances need to be in place to make sure that it cannot be abused. The current discussions are a call to action to fix that.
Lost corona generation
Young people are expected to be hit hard by the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis. Although they belong to the lowest risk group, the recession following the crisis will hit them disproportionally. Similar to the financial crisis of 2008, the young people who are graduating during this period will have to navigate an uncertain job market. For those slightly older (the Millennials), the Covid-19 crisis will be the second big economic crisis they will have to face before they even reach their mid-30s. Moreover, for many European youngsters, especially those in Southern Europe, the current economic crisis begins in a far worse place than the financial crisis of 2008. To prevent history from repeating itself, society should not only focus on relief measures for businesses, but also take steps to prevent economic disaster for the young generation. Such measures could include additional relief for student debt, stimulus money for high school and college students, and programs to give young people not bound for college the opportunity to earn a free, post-high-school educational certificate.
The next great German surge
Germany has announced huge fiscal stimulus packages as it is facing a deep recession caused by the Covid-19 crisis. In the three decades after its unification, Germany has transformed itself from the “sick man of Europe” into an industrial and economic powerhouse. It created a strong export-oriented, industrial economy and runs large current account surpluses (the largest in the world of the past four years). It did so with stringent budget discipline, resulting in a decaying infrastructure, especially digitally. This can – to some extent – explain the German overreliance on “old industries”, such as automotive or chemicals, and why Germany has not generated a digital big tech company of its own. By tapping into its accumulated reserves and benefiting from lower interest rates, Germany could come to embrace Keynesian deficit spending, and if it combines this with a green and inclusive agenda, we can expect a new surge of German innovation capacity. Increased German deficit spending would also generate economic spillovers to other Eurozone economies; making Germany not only Europe’s economic, but also its moral leader.