(Bloomberg) -- Munich’s Digital Life and Design conference chose "Optimism and Courage" as the motto for its 2019 gathering. The upbeat slogan belies the more critical tone to the proceedings as attendees and consumers realize the darker side of tech’s biggest companies.
Issues like regulation, privacy, fake news and the rise of xenophobic nationalism will highlight the second day, as executives such as Facebook Inc.’s Sheryl Sandberg and BMW AG’s Harald Krueger take the stage.
We’re following the developments in real time. Time stamps are local for Munich.
Facebook’s Sandberg Hits Familiar Tones (3 p.m.)
Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg spent her keynote speech hitting many of the same themes she and Facebook CEO Marc Zuckerberg have focused on recently.
Admitting that the past few years have been “really difficult” for her company, Sandberg continued by acknowledging the damage consecutive online scandals have done for Facebook’s image.
“We need to stop abuse more quickly, and we need to do more to protect people’s data,” Sandberg said in Munich. “We need to earn back people’s trust.”
Sandberg’s comment is another in a long line of apologies by Facebook executives, after scandals that included user data being accessible to unauthorized third parties and hiring an opposition research firm to investigate billionaire George Soros. Zuckerberg has said fighting Facebook’s diverse problems will take years.
While not acknowledging any scandal directly, Sandberg announced various initiatives aimed at winning back trust, including a partnership with the German federal office for information security on election interference and a $7.5 million investment into the AI ethics institute at the technical university of Munich.
Airbus CTO Looks at Autonomous Planes (10:30 a.m.)
Though autopilot is not a new technology, Airbus’s Chief Technology Office Grazia Vittadini said the company is hoping current advances in artificial intelligence will help complete the step to completely autonomous planes.
“That’s what we’re looking into, artificial intelligence, to free up pilots from more mundane routines,” Vittadini said in an interview with Accenture CTO Paul Daugherty. Currently, the company is working on moving to single-pilot operations, with full autonomy coming later.
Airline executives, though reluctant to speak on the topic, would benefit from autonomous planes as they seek to cut costs and handle ongoing shortages of qualified pilots -- two issues that could be addressed by efficiency improvements pilot-less planes would provide. The biggest challenge for planemakers like Airbus is convincing regulators to approve the technology, Vittadini said.
“Explainability of artificial intelligence is a real challenge for us when it comes to the certification of products,” she said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Oliver Sachgau in Munich at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tara Patel at email@example.com, ;Anthony Palazzo at firstname.lastname@example.org, Steve Geimann
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.