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UK: Future Tech Forum – Opening Keynote

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Good morning everyone.

It’s an absolute pleasure to welcome you all to London, to the inaugural Future Tech Forum.

It’s the first major summit I’ve hosted since becoming Digital Secretary in September and what better place to be hosting a discussion about the future of tech, than in the Science Museum?

As you wander around this building over the next couple of days, you will spot “NeXTcube” – the computer that Tim Berners-Lee was sitting at when he designed the World Wide Web. With his invention in 1989, Berners-Lee set off a chain of events that have led us all here today.

Because digital technology has fundamentally changed our way of life. In fact, the entire infrastructure of the global economy – and modern society – is now built around tech. The five biggest tech companies are now worth almost $10 trillion – more than the next 27 most valuable U.S. companies put together. Amazon is the third biggest employer on the planet. Apple’s stock is worth more than Belgium’s entire wealth.

These companies track who we are, and what we like, and where we go and what we buy. They are an ever-present fixture of our daily lives. And they’ve done a huge amount to improve our existence. They connect us with friends and family. They’ve revolutionised working life. And given that the economies of some of these tech companies are the size of countries it’s great to see them tackling country-sized challenges like looking at tackling global welfare and development – as you’ll see in the first session with Microsoft today.

Meanwhile, the pace of technological change is astounding. We’ve got doctors performing surgery in a room miles away from their patient, armed with a joystick and some 3D equipment. Groundbreaking companies are exploring wild ways to manipulate biology – like reviving the smell of extinct flowers to create new perfumes.

At the same time, AI is everywhere – and getting more sophisticated by the day. Almost all experts think that within this century we’ll see a situation where machines are more intelligent than humans. In the long history of humanity, we are now officially living in the Digital Age. So it’s no wonder that governments all over the world are racing to set the rules for this new era.

Because if there’s anything we’ve learnt over the last 20 years, it’s that without the right governance and values built in from the start, tech can create some very serious problems. Problems that are hard to fix once they’ve happened.

Algorithms can send dangerous misinformation and poisonous abuse all over the world in a matter of seconds.
Authoritarian governments can use tech to track, to intimidate, and to repress. News services can be blocked with the flick of a switch, and competitors crowded out with the tweak of an algorithm.

All of this has ramifications: for our privacy, and prosperity and for society as a whole.

And so I’m gathering you all here today to start a new and frank conversation about the future of tech: About how we can work together to harness its incredible potentially, particularly when it comes to tackling the biggest challenges we face, like climate change while protecting people from the darker side of the Digital Age.

It’s on us, as like-minded partners, to make sure the tech revolution is a democratic one. And together, we’ll be discussing a number of challenges over the next two days.

Like: How do we get the governance of tech right from the start, rather than playing catch-up? What are the issues we need to think about now, before the adoption of new and emerging tech becomes widespread? How do we ensure new technologies reflect our liberal and democratic values? And where do we need international solutions – given tech is global in its very nature – and how do we deliver them? Every country in the world is grappling with these very same questions but the UK is leading the way in answering many of them.

The most obvious example is our Online Safety Bill, which we introduced in Parliament in July. That Bill is a truly groundbreaking piece of legislation. We’ll be going further than any other country to regulate social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and TikTok.

I know that the world will be watching what we do, and looking to follow our lead in many cases. We’ve got a 10-year plan to become a global AI superpower, through our National AI Strategy. We’ve broken yet more ground with a new, pro-competition Digital Markets Unit, to oversee the world’s most powerful tech companies.

We’re at the cutting edge of deepening Digital Trade, and I’m particularly pleased to welcome colleagues from Singapore here today, with whom we’re negotiating a ground-breaking Digital Economy Agreement.

And in a year of international leadership for the UK, we have used our presidency of the G7 to draw a number of lines in the sand about the future of tech: We agreed that as we tackle illegal and harmful content online, we should do so in a way that also protects fundamental democratic rights, like freedom of speech.

We agreed to work together on digital technical standards, and to promote the trusted and free flow of data. We agreed to accelerate the use of digital technologies to boost trade. And finally, we agreed to secure critical digital infrastructure, like our telecoms networks. I want to build on that work over the next two days, as our G7 leadership comes to a close and that’s why I’m delighted that so many people have travelled from all over the world to be here today.

We’ve got representatives from every corner of the planet – from the Republic of Korea to Kenya, Finland and the United States And I’m very excited about the UK’s new Digital Trade Network, which is going to make the most of fast-growing tech markets in the Asia Pacific region.

But we know that governments can’t meet these challenges alone. We’ve got to change the existing model, and bring together government, industry and academia to write the next chapter of tech together. To work together in a way that is more collaborative, more frank and more honest than it has perhaps been so in the past.

So the Future Tech Forum is bringing together the widest group of thought leaders from across government, industry and academia.

As the Prime Minister said when he announced this summit in his speech to the UN General Assembly in 2019, we have pulled together the broadest possible coalition to take on this task. And if we get these questions right, the potential benefits for our countries are enormous. So as I officially open the Future Tech Forum, I’d like to finish by saying that I think we’re facing a fundamental choice about our future:

Is tech going to be a force for good, or a force for bad? We’re all here today because we are determined to make it the former. So without further ado, let’s get things underway with the first session, on tech and democracy.

I’m delighted to welcome to the stage:

Former Danish Prime Minister and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Microsoft Vice President John Frank

And last but by no means least, my colleague Julia Lopez, the Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure.

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2023 battle: PDP Governors in emergency meeting Monday

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By Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Governors Forum will hold a special meeting on Monday, 17 January, 2022 at the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt.

The Director General, PDP Governors Forum, Cyril I.D. Maduabum, said the meeting would review the state of the nation and readiness of the PDP  to provide the necessary leadership to rescue and rebuild Nigeria.

“All the elected PDP Governors are expected to attend the meeting to be presided over by the Chairman of the Forum, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.

“The meeting will be preceded by a Gala night to be hosted by the Chief Host, His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.

“The PDP Governors are working in concert and consultations with other leaders of the party and in particular the Senator Dr. Iyorchia Ayu led National Executive Committee of PDP to craft a credible process and programme for Nigeria’s positive rebirth.”

He explained that Dr Ayu has been invited to attend the Port Harcourt meeting to hold consultations with the Governors on strategies for executing the rescue and rebuild Nigeria project.

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Rivers LG chairs destroy illegal artisanal refineries

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Okafor Ofiebor/ Port Harcourt

Chairpersons of local governments in Rivers have intensified battle against soot menance with raid and destruction of illegal artisanal refiners in some parts of the state.

In Obio-Akpor Local Government Council, George Ariolu, the chairman and some of his officers have uncovered facilities being used for illegal refining and storage of refined products around Ogbogoro and Eligbam communities of the Council.

Ariolu restated that the battle against soot menace is a battle for everyone and not for government alone to tackle, adding that it is a problem for all considering the environmental and health hazard associated with it.

He told journalists at Ogbogoro waterfront that all hands must be on deck in order to combat the menace of black soot in the State.

There was mild drama and altercation between the Police and officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, at site of one the depots, Obio-Akpor local government in presence of LGA boss.

The Chairman later accused some security personnel of aiding and abetting culprits involved in the pollution of the environment through their collaboration.

Ariolu advised the public to align with government and security agencies by relaying relevant information that will aid the arrest culprits, as he described the Ogbogoro Waterfront (former Crushrock) as a major depot for the storage of illegally refined petroleum products in the State.

The Chairman who also found an illegal refined petroleum products dump yard at Rumuolumeni Community (Mgboduohia and Minikpete), condemned the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps for their compromise in the fight against illegality.

He called on the State Government to seal, investigate and arraign owners of facilities used to perpetrate such heinous crimes in the society.

Speaking at a radio programme with Raypower 106.5 fm, the Chairman debunked rumours that the fight against illegal refinery operators in the state is political motivated and targeted at a particular sect and tribe in Rivers State.

In the same vein, the Chairman of Etche Local Government Area, Obinna Anyanwu and his team also discovered and dismantled two oil bunkering dump sites located at Akwa and Odagwa waterfronts boundaries between Rivers and Abia States.

Anyanwu was accompanied by security operatives and members of the Etche Local Government TaskForce/Oil Bunkering to the illegal oil dump sites.

Speaking to Journalists shortly after the raid, the Etche Council Chairman assured that his administration will continue to rid the area off illegal crude oil refiners to ensure safety and healthy environment for the people.

The Etche Council Chairman directed the committee in-charge of oil bunkering to collaborate with the security agencies in fishing out anyone who might be involved in illegal oil refining, including those using Etche as a route to transport their illegal refined products to neighboring states.

Anyanwu who expressed concern over the harmful blanket of black soot across the skyline in Rivers caused by illegal crude oil refining, pledged his full support to Governor Wike’s drastic measures in seeking an end to the soot menace.

Likewise in Eleme local government area an enforcement team was led by the Chairman, Obarilormate Ollor in company of security personnel, Eleme Youth Coordinator, Prince N. Okereke,the Chief Security Officer, Brain Gokpa, Special Assistant to the Executive Chairman on illegal bunkering and artisanal mining Mr Chika Alale Oluji stormed some illegal Bunkering sites.

Our Correspondent reports that seven refining points as well as two fully loaded oil badges were discovered and destroyed.

However,beside depots, no illegal refining sites were found at the time of the operation and no arrests have been made.

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Shonekan’s death major loss to Nigeria, private sector -Osinbajo

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the late head of Nigeria’s Interim National Government, Ernest Shonekan, was highly consequential as a leader in the private sector who impacted economic policy in Nigeria.

This is as he described Shonekan’s demise as a major loss to the country.

Osinbajo stated this on Sunday when he paid a condolence visit to the family of the late head of the Interim National Government, in Lagos.

Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity Laolu Akande, disclosed this in a statement he signed late Sunday titled ‘Shonekan was consequential as private sector leader, his death a major loss, says Osinbajo’.

The Vice President who visited in company of his wife, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, was received at the Ikoyi residence of the Shonekans by the late ING head’s widow, Margaret Shonekan, and the son Adeboye Shonekan.

Osinbajo described Shonekan’s death as “a very major loss for the country and for the private sector and even internationally.

“Here was a man who made an impact. He was one of the very first leaders in the private sector to shape economic policy in Nigeria, and his role in that respect was very significant.”

During the visit, the Vice President also signed the condolence register thus: “We bless the name of the Lord for the excellent life of service to the country and to God, of our leader and father  Chief Ernest Shonekan, GCFR.

“We are proud of his contributions to the shaping of the modern Nigerian economy while being a leading light in the private sector. And for his statesmanship and leadership of the country at a time of great uncertainty in our nation.

“His integrity, legacy and high value service will remain evergreen in our memories. We pray that the Lord will comfort the family and may his memory be blessed forever. Amen.”

The Vice President also prayed for the family of the deceased business guru.

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