The President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, met this morning at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, with the American businessman and philanthropist Bill Gates. According to sources close to the Presidency the two men discussed artificial intelligence issues, such as investment in green energy, and the replacement of illicit economies with licit ones “to achieve peace in Colombia”.
This meeting takes place at a time when the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation in Colombia announced their plan to create a Committee of Experts in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to advise the Government on the advances and challenges that this tool entails, coinciding with the reopening of the debate on the impact of AI in the world of work globally.
In the important economic forum of Davos, which is held annually, it is usual for meetings and gatherings to take place between influential personalities of the world in the field of economy and the climate crisis. Gates’ meeting was prior to their participation in the forum that addressed the schism between the North and the South of the planet.
Artificial Intelligence at the service of man
According to reports, the main topic of conversation between the U.S. businessman and the Colombian president was AI and its uses and effects on people. Similarly, they also discussed Colombia’s participation in this technology and its usefulness for the energy transition that Gustavo Petro’s government is leading.
“We were talking about Artificial Intelligence and the possibility of Colombia becoming a hub for Artificial Intelligence”, the president revealed to the media, adding that this would imply “huge data centers based on a greater consumption of clean energy”.
It should be recalled that Gates himself assured that AI will change the way of understanding life for human beings in the next five years. In this sense, the businessman said that although the use of this technology generates fear and misgivings in many people, it is also “an opportunity for humanity”. Gates spoke about this in an interview to CNN television, in which he assured that with AI “life will be easier”, just as the connection to technology will be simpler for computers and cell phones.
Panel “Addressing the North-South schism”
The meeting with Bill Gates was a prelude to their participation in a panel entitled “Addressing the North-South schism”, in which they discussed the global differences between the two hemispheres. At that meeting, President Petro made harsh criticisms of “the handout” given by the North to the countries of the global South to address the climate crisis.
In a forceful speech urging immediate action, the Colombian president asserted that the old methods, which conceived of a rich north that should help a poor south, which he defined as “alms, in the Christian sense”, are no longer useful.
“It is thought that the climate crisis is overcome if there is alms from the North to the South and the great discussions of the COP have revolved around this issue: the famous 100 billion dollars that were promised in 2015 in Paris, and it turns out that this concept, this paradigm of cooperation is not for today,” said the president.
Another of the issues addressed by the Colombian president was that of peace and the real transformation of the territory in favor of licit economies. “The guiding axis of peace, (…) needs international support, the transformation of the excluded territory, today in the hands of illicit economies, into territories of economic prosperity, into licit economies. This transformation is vital if we are to build, in the current conditions, economic peace”, Petro repeated in Davos, after having already advanced it before the press in Guatemala, shortly before traveling to Switzerland.
Demand to the most developed countries
Petro called for real and effective cooperation between the North and the South, pointing out that the countries of the North are more responsible for the ravages of climate change. The head of state once again demanded, from the countries that are the biggest polluters, strong action that goes beyond rhetoric and small aid to the countries that pollute the least.
For this, said Gustavo Petro, “the North has to radically transform itself from the economic and technological point of view to be able to sustain the life of the planet as a whole”.
The Colombian president once again defended on an international stage the energy transition policy he advocates for his country, abandoning oil exploitation in favor of clean energies. In this context, Petro called on developed countries to take the step without delay, because the activities of these countries seriously affect the rest of the planet. “The CO2 chimneys are in the north and must be shut down, otherwise the forests in the south will burn”, concluded the Colombian president.
From “polycrisis” to “multicrime”
Petro also spoke of the war in Palestine, once again qualifying the Israeli action as “genocide”, as he has already done in previous statements that have earned him many diplomatic conflicts with the Hebrew state. On the international implications of this conflict, the president also affirmed that the “UN votes on this problem have physically, politically separated the north and the south”.
In this regard, the president referred to a term that was born in the 2023 edition of the Davos forum. “A year ago the Forum coined the word polycrisis; it spoke of war, of hunger in the world as a result of pandemic, disease, poverty, economic stagnation. Today, after a year, this has worsened: from war we have gone on to genocide,” Petro claimed.
Following the line of conflicts and violence, the president wanted to introduce in the debate the concept of “multi-crime”, the new reality of criminal gangs that operate in various countries and that are having at present their greatest manifestation in the events of violence in Ecuador.
“The emergence of a new perpetrator of violence in all America requires special attention, a special policy…. this is the multinational gang, the multi-crime and multinational gang, which increasingly has more preponderance and prominence in the violence in all countries in America,” said the president.