World Leader for Peace and Security Award 2020
On December 12, 2020, Governor Michael Dukakis will present Ursula von der Leyden, president of the European Commission, with the Boston Global Forum and Michael Dukakis Institute’s Annual Award “World Leader for Peace and Security” for her efforts to rebuild ties between the United States and Europe.
Governor Dukakis stated, “For the past four years, the White House has strained to the breaking point, our ties with our European allies—relationships that have fostered peace, human rights and defended the Western world from aggression for three-quarters of a century.”
Additionally, with the advent of Artificial Intelligence as a driving technological and societal force, President von der Leyden has committed to the goal of humanizing Artificial Intelligence and has advocated for standards in its development that will contribute to greater freedom, and democracy.
In May of last year von der Leyden was elected President of the European Commission and assumed the post on November 1, 2019.
A prominent political leader, von der Leyden was the first woman to assume the post of Germany’s Minister of Defense in 2013, after having served on Angela Merkel’s cabinet since 2005.
She is a highly regarded for her efforts to unify European nations on several fronts including the long-term goal of establishing a unified European Army.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will receive the “World Leader for Peace and Security Award” on Saturday December 12, 2020 from Governor Michael Dukakis. The award honors President von der Leyen for her efforts to rebuild ties between the United States and Europe and to promote a human-centric vision for Artificial Intelligence.
President von der Leyen will deliver remarks virtually at a conference in Boston on the role of artificial intelligence in safeguarding democratic rights sponsored by The Boston Global Forum and the Michael Dukakis Institute for Leadership and Innovation.
Governor Dukakis said, “For the past four years, the White House has strained to the breaking point, our ties with our European allies—relationships that have fostered peace, human rights and defended the Western world from aggression for three-quarters of a century.”
Governor Dukakis praised President von der Leyen for the proposed New Agenda for EU-US relations and for the goal of establishing global Artificial Intelligence standards based on democratic values.
President Von der Leyen said, “Artificial intelligence has a tremendous potential. Medicine, agriculture, transport, science – the areas where AI will make a huge difference are limitless. At the same time, it raises important ethical questions. A bit earlier this afternoon I mentioned digital sovereignty. That this is not only meant economically. Artificial intelligence is a prime example of digital sovereignty. It is an example of our ambition to apply European standards and values to technology deployed in Europe. Europe wants to lead the way on AI, with the individual at the centre.”
President Von der Leyen further said, “The US and the EU should work together on a common approach, based on our shared traditions and our commitment to democratic values. Developing a Transatlantic Agreement on AI is one such goal. We should also strengthen our international organizations and promote peace and security.”
Ursula von der Leyen was elected President of the European Commission in November 1, 2019. She will serve a five-year term as head of the Commission, setting strategy and priorities for EU policy. A prominent political leader, von der Leyen was the first woman to serve as Germany’s Minister of Defense, after having served in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet since 2005.
A new report on AI policy – Artificial Intelligence and Democratic Values – will be released at the December 12 conference. The report was prepared by the Center for AI and Digital Policy at the Dukakis Institute and conducted by a team of international experts.
The Boston Global Forum and The Michael Dukakis Institute presented the first World Leader Peace and Security Award in 2015 to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Other past recipients of the Peace and Security award are Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Kin-moon (2016), Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves (2017), Finnish President Sauli Niinisto (2018), Latvian President and President of World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid Vaira Vike-Freiberga (2019).
The Boston Global Forum and The Michael Dukakis Institution have had a leading role in promoting a Social Contract for the AI Age. The Social Contract seeks to promote uses of AI that respect human rights, dignity and democratic values and prevent AI’s harmful uses by government and private parties.
The Michael Dukakis Institute (MDI)‘s initiatives include AI World Society (AIWS), AI-Government, Social Contract for the AI Age, Ethics Code of Conduct for Cyber Peace and Security (ECCC), and Global Cybersecurity Day.
The Boston Global Forum (BGF) brings together world leaders, distinguished thinkers, innovators, and promising young leaders to seek peaceful solutions to the challenges of our times.
The AI World Society (AIWS) City, established in collaboration with the World Leadership Alliance – Club de Madrid and the United Nations Academic Impact, is a virtual digital city dedicated to the principle of the Social Contract for the AI Age.
- Further details of BGF and AIWS are available by contacting Tuan Anh Nguyen, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Boston Global Forum, and Director of The Michael Dukakis Institute for Leadership and Innovation: [email protected]
- Editors and Reporters please contact MDI Press Secretary Dick Pirozzolo: [email protected] / +1 617 959 4613
Boston Global Forum, 12/12/2020
I am pleased to announce that this year’s recipient of the Boston Global Forum’s World Leader for Peace and Security Award is Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. President von der Leyen is the first woman to serve in that position.
Trained as a physician, she entered politics as a cabinet minister in the German state of Lower Saxony. When Angela Merkel became German chancellor in 2005, she appointed Dr. von der Leyen as Minister of Family Affairs and Youth, a portfolio that aligned with her work on women’s health.
After four years in that position, she was appointed by Chancellor Merkel to be Minister of Labor and Social Affairs. Then, in 2013, she was appointed Germany’s Minister of Defense, the first woman to hold that top ministerial post.
When she left her post in 2019 to become President of the European Commission, President von der Leyen had the distinction of being the longest serving minister of the Merkel government. During much of this period, she also served as a deputy leader of Germany’s governing party, the Christian Democrats.
President von der Leyen has been a tireless advocate for a more united Europe and a Europe that would assume a larger role in international diplomacy and security. A champion of democratic rights and institutions, she has contested the emergence in Europe of right-wing nationalism and state authoritarianism. She has pressed European countries to act collectively, rather than individually, to contain the COVID-19 threat.
She is committed to the Transatlantic Alliance, recognizing the collective responsibility of the EU and the United States to advance global peace, security, and development.
These goals match those of the Boston Global Forum. We are also at one with President von der Leyen on the need for an international accord on the use of Artificial Intelligence, based on shared values and democratic traditions, an accord that will require sustained Transatlantic leadership if it is to be realized.
For these and other reasons, the Boston Global Forum is pleased today to present our World Leader for Peace and Security Award to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Award Ceremony Video
Award Ceremony Speech
Dear Governor Dukakis,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is such an honour to be here with you today. At the Michael Dukakis Institute for Leadership and Innovation, you are at the forefront of research and debate. And you definitely work on some of the world’s most pressing issues. You drive the discussion on digital policy and how a human-centric approach on AI could look like. This is an issue whose importance simply cannot be overestimated. Today I would like to speak about our European perspective.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am a tech optimist! I believe that science and technology have the power to improve our lives. When I studied to become a medical doctor, I learned that technology saves lives. Artificial intelligence can help identify cancers that used to go undetected. And modern robots can help to perform high-precision surgery that used to be too risky just a few years ago.
But of course, there is another side. Some of us are deeply concerned about the role which will be left for human beings in a world run by AI. Others worry about the serious effects that algorithms can have on the health of our democracies. Who is taking the final decisions? Who is steering the flow of information? Who is deciding on rules?
The world that we see through social media platforms seems real. But it is constructed. A list of search results seems objective. But it is different for each and every one of us. Steered by algorithms. Thousands of likes and retweets create a sense of unity. While we literally live in different worlds.
Yes, algorithms can be a danger to our democracy. But they do not have to be. We have the power to protect ourselves. This is why, next week, the European Commission will present its Digital Services Act to make sure that platforms are transparent about the way algorithms work. And that they take responsibility for their systemic effects. We just cannot leave decisions, which have a huge impact on our democracies, to systems, which are a black box for us. There must be at least transparency on how the algorithm works.
AI can have profound impacts on the life of the individual. AI may influence who to recruit for a certain post or whether to grant a certain pension application. For people to accept a role for AI in such decisions, they must be comprehensible. And they must respect people’s legal rights – just like any human decision-maker must. This is why we have to be able to examine the workings of the system and to ensure human oversight. Our aim is to create an AI ecosystem of trust.
This is our European way of dealing with AI: Yes, Europe embraces innovation and entrepreneurship. And yes, we are eager to explore the full potential of AI for our industry and services. But we will never lose sight of those who are meant to benefit from these technological wonders – our citizens. What sets Europe apart from competitors like China is not the size of our tech sector or how attractive we are for venture capital. What sets Europe apart from competitors is the fact that our values come first. Human beings come first.
Dear Governor Dukakis,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am so honoured to receive this award today. For me this is also a very personal starting point for a great new beginning between the U.S. and Europe. A partnership that has been tested time and again. A partnership that today is needed more than ever, not at least in the digital world. The way we approach algorithms and AI will define the world we live in.
This is why the EU proposes to start work on a Transatlantic AI Agreement. We want to set a blueprint for regional and global standards aligned with our values: Human rights, and pluralism, inclusion and the protection of privacy. A transatlantic dialogue on the responsibility of online platforms!
Together, we could set the blueprint for other democracies facing the same challenges. To make sure that algorithms and AI are a force for good. Once again: I am delighted to be with you today!