Will Bilderberg still be relevant as the future of war is transformed by artificial intelligence?

This year’s Bilderberg summit is all about war – but what they all want to conquer is artificial intelligence

The Guardian, Charlie Skelton, 11 June 2018
Übersetzung ins DeutscheTraduction en français

Will Bilderberg still be relevant as the future of war is transformed by artificial intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence is transforming the future of warfare

The 2018 Bilderberg summit is a council of war. On the agenda: Russia and Iran. In the conference room: Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of Nato, Ursula von der Leyen, the German defence minister, and Bernard Émié, the director of the French foreign intelligence service, DGSE.

They are joined in Turin, Italy, by a slew of academic strategists and military theorists, but for those countries in geopolitical hotspots there is nothing theoretical about these talks. Not when Jüri Ratas et Ana Brnabic, the prime ministers of Estonia and Serbia, are discussing Russia, or Mehmet Simsek, Turkey’s deputy PM, is talking about Iran.

The clearest indication that some sort of US-led conflict is on the cards is the presence of the Pentagon’s top war-gamer, James H Baker. He is an expert in military trends, and no trend is more trendy in the world of battle strategy than artificial intelligence. Bilderberg is devoting a whole session to AI this year – and has invited military theorist Michael C Horowitz, who has written extensively on its likely impact on the future of war.

Q&A: Does Russia present a credible threat to the UK?

Russia has been a useful bogeyman since its “annexation” of Crimea in 2014 (it was not an annexation, see Die Krim und das Völkerrecht). UK military chiefs were spooked when Russia, during an intervention in Ukraine, used a combination of drones and artillery to destroy Ukrainian armour, and raised questions about whether the UK would be able to do much better than the Ukrainians in similar circumstances.

The UK is far enough away for Russia not to pose a territorial threat. But UK forces are deployed in the Baltic states along with US and other Nato forces as a deterrent in the unlikely event of a Russian landgrab.

Russia does present a threat through hybrid warfare, or the use of deniable acts of disruption – primarily cyber-attacks on the UK that could disrupt essential services or interference in the democratic process, such as in electronic voting and elections.

President Vladimir Poutin
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and China’s president Xi Jinping are investing heavily in artificial intelligence

Horowitz sees AI as “the ultimate enabler”. In an article published just a few weeks ago in the Texas National Security Review, he quotes Putin’s remark from 2017: “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

Horowitz says “China, Russia, and others are investing significantly in AI to increase their relative military capabilities”, because it offers “the ability to disrupt US military superiority”. Global military domination is suddenly up for grabs – which brings us to the most intriguing item on this year’s Bilderberg agenda: “US world leadership”.

Bilderberg’s most eminent geopolitical sage, Henry Kissinger, will growl this ominous phrase with ancient delight. He has been clanging the funeral bell of American world leadership for decades. Back in 2005 he wrote about how the rise of China would bring about “a substantial reordering of the international system”.

The White House is clearly concerned: sending to Bilderberg the National Security Council’s director for China, Matthew Turpin. Not that this “gravity shift” to the east is something Turpin could talk about in earshot of Trump.

But here’s the thing: this tectonic reshaping of power, in which “the centre of gravity of world affairs” moves from America to China, is a pre-AI concept. Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google recently described AI as more significant for humanity than “electricity or fire”. What this “all-encompassing revolution” means for traditional power structures is the possibility of utter transformation. It is not just that world leadership will be passed from the US to China like a baton. It is that the whole structure of world leadership might just melt away, or take a form that no one, not even Kissinger, could foresee.

What this means for Bilderberg is that the system of transatlantic influence and opinion-shaping that the group has spent more than six decades refining might vanish overnight. All the diplomatic machinations of Józef Retinger and Étienne Davignon, all the Rockefeller, Agnelli and Wallenberg power, rendered irrelevant by the disruption of AI.

Weaponized Drone Swarms Employ Cutting-Edge AI-Technology

Little wonder that Bilderberg, in this state of existential angst, is trying desperately to keep up with the latest tech developments: this year discussing “quantum computing” in a session led by Hartmut Neven, the director of Google’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab. The Turin guest list is littered with folk from Google. AI expert Demis Hassabis, who runs Google’s DeepMind project, is already a conference regular. Bilderberg knows that the future lies in hi-tech, so it is grabbing Google with both hands.

In the meantime, having a few proxy wars with Russia is a pleasant way to pass the time. Especially if you run a giant arms company, as several at Bilderberg do. Marcus Wallenberg is chairman of Saab, which makes fighter jets. Giampiero Massolo is chairman of Fincantieri, which makes frigates. And Thomas Enders is chief of Airbus, the seventh biggest arms company in the world. Skirmishes in Estonia would be good for business, if not for Estonia.

Still, the biggest ethical question faced by the summit is not whether to milk the madness of war for profit. Bombing and rebuilding countries, missiles and debt, that’s all fine: that’s just how neoliberalism works. What’s tougher to justify, within a democratic framework, is the practical process whereby conflicts are being debated, behind closed doors, by top policymakers in concert with billionaire industrialists and private sector profiteers. Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands, discussing global flashpoints in luxurious privacy with Ben van Beurden, the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell and José Manuel Barroso, the chairman of Goldman Sachs International. It’s horrible optics!

Sir John Sawers, ex-head of the UK Secret Intelligence Service and chairman of Macro Advisory Partners, discusses Russia, Syria, Donald Trump and the issue of free trade.

Chemical weapons attack in Syria was staged by US-supported rebel forces (translator's note)

US Senator Rand Paul says «Syrian gas attack in Douma was a false flag, or Assad is the dumbest dictator on the planet».

Chemical weapons attack in Syria was staged by US-supported rebel forces – US-journalist Pearson Sharp of One America News visited the war-torn town of Douma outside the Syrian capital of Damascus, looking for evidence of a chemical attack. However, residents there deny the claims of an attack. Sharp says that all of the around 40 local residents he interviewed on the ground in Douma denied that a chemical attack had taken place. Sharp was told the chemical attack was staged by US-supported rebel forces in an effort to provide the US-lead coalition with a reason for a military response which would allow the rebels to escape from the area. Sharp also reported that the residents revealed they were glad to see the rebels, whom they referred to as terrorists, be defeated and praised Assad and his government.

Chemical weapons attack in Syria was staged – German journalist Uli Gack of the ZDF confirms Pearson Sharp’s report.

Western air strikes on Syria violate international law – Western air strikes on the alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria constitute a breach of international law. This is the result of an expertise by the Scientific Service of the German Bundestag.

All warfare is based on deception – Sun Tzu, Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher

At Bilderberg, you’ve got the secretary general of Nato discussing Russia with financiers whose job it is to turn knowledge into dollars. Bilderberg member Sir John Sawers used to run MI6. Now he runs Macro Advisory Partners, helping his clients to navigate “a volatile and fragmenting global landscape” while “maximising opportunity and minimising risk”. He does the same for BP, as a member of its board of directors.

This is what Kissinger has been doing for decades through Kissinger Associates: leveraging information for money. This isn’t how representative democracy is meant to work. It’s how Wall Street works. It’s the geopolitical version of insider dealing: private access to non-public information.

What the politicians at Bilderberg ought to realise, when they take a break from brainstorming war to enjoy the buffet, is that they are the buffet. There’s not much dignity in undermining democracy. But there is a huge pile of money, and for many people that’s enough.

Bilderberg 2018 – The list of Participants

VAT – Parolin, H.E. Pietro – Cardinal and Secretary of State (the Vatican is, above all, a political organization)

INT – Azoulay, Audrey – Director-General, UNESCO

INT – Brende, Børge – President, World Economic Forum

INT – Ischinger, Wolfgang – Chairman, Munich Security Conference

INT – Oettinger, Günther H. – Commissioner for Budget & Human Resources, European Commission

INT – Stoltenberg, Jens – Secretary General, NATO

AUT – Ecker, Andrea – Secretary General, Office Federal President of Austria

AUT – Rendi-Wagner, Pamela – MP

AUT – Scholten, Rudolf – President, Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue

AUT – Zeiler, Gerhard – President, Turner International

BEL – Berx, Cathy – Governor, Province of Antwerp

BEL – Leysen, Thomas – Chairman, KBC Group

BEL – Michel, Charles – Prime Minister

CAN – Anglade, Dominique – Deputy Premier of Quebec; Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation

CAN – Champagne, François-Philippe – Minister of International Trade

CAN – Pichette, Patrick – General Partner, iNovia Capital

CAN – Sabia, Michael – President and CEO, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec

CHE – Beerli, Christine – Former Vice-President, International Committee of the Red Cross

CHE – Kudelski, André – Chairman and CEO, Kudelski Group

CHE – Schneider-Ammann, Johann N. – Federal Councillor

DEU – Achleitner, Paul M. – Chairman Supervisory Board, Deutsche Bank AG; Treasurer, Foundation Bilderberg Meetings

DEU – Döpfner, Mathias – Chairman and CEO, Axel Springer SE

DEU – Enders, Thomas – CEO, Airbus SE

DEU – Köcher, Renate – Managing Director, Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research

DEU – Leyen, Ursula von der – Federal Minster of Defence

DNK – Hedegaard, Connie – Chair, KR Foundation; Former European Commissioner

DNK – Topsøe, Jakob Haldor – Chairman, Haldor Topsøe Holding A/S

ESP – Botín, Ana P. – Group Executive Chairman, Banco Santander

ESP – Cebrián, Juan Luis – Executive Chairman, El País

ESP – Rivera Díaz, Albert – President, Ciudadanos Party

ESP – Sáenz de Santamaría, Soraya – Deputy Prime Minister

EST – Ratas, Jüri – Prime Minister

FIN – Herlin, Antti – Chairman, KONE Corporation

FIN – Lepomäki, Elina – MP, National Coalition Party

FIN – Wahlroos, Björn – Chairman, Sampo Group, Nordea Bank, UPM-Kymmene Corporation

FRA – Barbizet, Patricia – President, Temaris & Associés

FRA – Blanquer, Jean-Michel – Minister of National Education, Youth and Community Life

FRA – Bouverot, Anne – Board Member; Former CEO, Morpho

FRA – Castries, Henri de – Chairman, Institut Montaigne; Chairman, Steering Committee Bilderberg Meetings

FRA – Cazeneuve, Bernard – Partner, August Debouzy; Former Prime Minister

FRA – Émié, Bernard – Director General, Ministry of the Armed Forces

FRA – Patino, Bruno – Chief Content Officer, Arte France TV

FRA – Pouyanné, Patrick – Chairman and CEO, Total S.A.

GBR – Agius, Marcus – Chairman, PA Consulting Group

GBR – Carney, Mark J. – Governor, Bank of England

GBR – Gilvary, Brian – Group CFO, BP plc

GBR – Hassabis, Demis – Co-Founder and CEO, DeepMind

GBR – Hodgson, Christine – Chairman, Capgemini UK plc

GBR – Minton Beddoes, Zanny – Editor-in-Chief, The Economist

GBR – O’Neill, Onora – Emeritus Honorary Professor in Philosophy, University of Cambridge

GBR – Osborne, George – Editor, London Evening Standard

GBR – Rudd, Amber – MP; Former Secretary of State, Home Department

GBR – Sawers, John – Chairman and Partner, Macro Advisory Partners

GBR – Woods, Ngaire – Dean, Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University

GRC – Mitsotakis, Kyriakos – President, New Democracy Party

GRC – Papalexopoulos, Dimitri – CEO, Titan Cement Company S.A.

IRL – Brennan, Eamonn – Director General, Eurocontrol

IRL – Donohoe, Paschal – Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform

IRL – O’Leary, Michael – CEO, Ryanair D.A.C.

ITA – Alesina, Alberto – Nathaniel Ropes Professor of Economics, Harvard University

ITA – Caracciolo, Lucio – Editor-in-Chief, Limes

ITA – Cattaneo, Elena – Director, Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology, University of Milan

ITA – Colao, Vittorio – CEO, Vodafone Group

ITA – Elkann, John – Chairman, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

ITA – Gruber, Lilli – Editor-in-Chief and Anchor “Otto e mezzo”, La7 TV

ITA – Massolo, Giampiero – Chairman, Fincantieri Spa.; President, ISPI

ITA – Mazzucato, Mariana – Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value, University College London

ITA – Rossi, Salvatore – Senior Deputy Governor, Bank of Italy

LVA – Rubesa, Baiba A. – CEO, RB Rail AS

NLD – Beurden, Ben van – CEO, Royal Dutch Shell plc

NLD – Halberstadt, Victor – Professor of Economics, Leiden University; Chairman Foundation Bilderberg Meetings

NLD – Kaag, Sigrid – Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation

NLD – Knot, Klaas H.W. – President, De Nederlandsche Bank

NLD – Rutte, Mark – Prime Minister

NOR – Brandtzæg, Svein Richard – President and CEO, Norsk Hydro ASA

NOR – Helgesen, Vidar – Ambassador for the Ocean

NOR – Skartveit, Hanne – Political Editor, Verdens Gang

POL – Applebaum, Anne – Columnist, Washington Post; Professor of Practice, London School of Economics

POL – Hajdarowicz, Greg – Founder and President, Gremi International Sarl

POL – Sikorski, Radoslaw – Senior Fellow, Harvard University; Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Poland

PRT – Amorim, Paula – Chairman, Américo Amorim Group

PRT – Barroso, José M. Durão – Chairman, Goldman Sachs International; Former President, European Commission

PRT – Mota, Isabel – President, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

SRB – Brnabic, Ana – Prime Minister

SWE – Kragic, Danica – Professor, School of Computer Science and Communication, KTH

SWE – Rankka, Maria – CEO, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce

SWE – Wallenberg, Marcus – Chairman, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB

TUR – Dagdeviren, Canan – Assistant Professor, MIT Media Lab

TUR – Koç, Ömer M. – Chairman, Koç Holding A.S.

TUR – Özkan, Behlül – Associate Professor in International Relations, Marmara University

TUR – Simsek, Mehmet – Deputy Prime Minister

TUR – Yetkin, Murat – Editor-in-chief, Hürriyet Daily News

USA – Altman, Roger C. – Founder and Senior Chairman, Evercore

USA – Baker, James H. – Director, Office of Net Assessment, Office of the Secretary of Defense

USA – Burns, William J. – President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

USA – Burwell, Sylvia M. – President, American University

USA – Cohen, Jared – Founder and CEO, Jigsaw at Alphabet Inc.

USA – Cook, Charles – Political Analyst, The Cook Political Report

USA – Fallows, James – Writer and Journalist

USA – Ferguson, Jr., Roger W. – President and CEO, TIAA

USA – Ferguson, Niall – Milbank Family Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

USA – Fischer, Stanley – Former Vice-Chairman, Federal Reserve; Former Governor, Bank of Israel

USA – Goldstein, Rebecca – Visiting Professor, New York University

USA – Hickenlooper, John – Governor of Colorado

USA – Hobson, Mellody – President, Ariel Investments LLC

USA – Hoffman, Reid – Co-Founder, LinkedIn; Partner, Greylock Partners

USA – Horowitz, Michael C. – Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

USA – Hwang, Tim – Director, Harvard-MIT Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative

USA – Jacobs, Kenneth M. – Chairman and CEO, Lazard

USA – Karp, Alex – CEO, Palantir Technologies

USA – Kissinger, Henry A. – Chairman, Kissinger Associates Inc.

USA – Kleinfeld, Klaus – CEO, NEOM

USA – Kotkin, Stephen – Professor in History and International Affairs, Princeton University

USA – Kravis, Henry R. – Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, KKR

USA – Kravis, Marie-Josée – Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute; President, American Friends of Bilderberg

USA – Makan, Divesh – CEO, ICONIQ Capital

USA – Mead, Walter Russell – Distinguished Fellow, Hudson Institute

USA – Micklethwait, John – Editor-in-Chief, Bloomberg LP

USA – Moyo, Dambisa F. – Global Economist and Author

USA – Mundie, Craig J. – President, Mundie & Associates

USA – Neven, Hartmut – Director of Engineering, Google Inc.

USA – Noonan, Peggy – Author and Columnist, The Wall Street Journal

USA – Petraeus, David H. – Chairman, KKR Global Institute

USA – Pring, Benjamin – Co-Founder and Managing Director, Center for the Future of Work

USA – Rubin, Robert E. – Co-Chairman Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Treasury Secretary

USA – Sadjadpour, Karim – Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

USA – Schadlow, Nadia – Former Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy

USA – Summers, Lawrence H. – Charles W. Eliot University Professor, Harvard University

USA – Thiel, Peter – President, Thiel Capital

USA – Turpin, Matthew – Director for China, National Security Council

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