Interview: Breit explains why Europe needs Gaia-X

Marco-Alexander Breit in an interview about Gaia-X and why Europe needs an independent strategy for the increasing digitalization.

Marco-Alexander Breit is heading the Artificial Intelligence Unit at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy. In addition to Blockchain, Data Economy and Artificial Intelligence, this unit is also responsible for the GAIA-X project.

For a long time he worked for top politicians such as Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Peter Altmaier.

Privately, Marco loves cooking, good wine, politics and yoga. And Amazing Spider-Man comics.

You are a Gaia-X evangelist. Why does Europe need its own data infrastructure?

We need sovereignty and data availability in Europe.

The fact that in times of increasing international tension we are largely dependent on digital infrastructures, cloud and edge services and applications from third countries is no longer strategically acceptable.

Nor is it strategically acceptable that some major cloud providers, fired by the insight into customer data and business models, are penetrating ever deeper into their customers’ business areas. In such cases, former infrastructure partners might suddenly become competitors on the software and service level. This hits our economy hard.

Thirdly, we in Europe need much better data availability, lower barriers to data exchange and data collaboration. And we need stronger, technically secure data protection for our companies, societies and people.

Trust is the most important thing here, and GAIA-X addresses all these issues.

Where will Gaia-X be in 5 years?

The hurdles for collaboration in the area of data are far too high. The enthusiasm for the possibilities of shared data use is still far too low.

In five years’ time GAIA-X will hopefully be the first global standard for interoperability, data migration, data protection and data collaboration.

Secondly, a vast data ecosystem, in which industrial giants, small and medium-sized enterprises, start-ups, science, civil society and the state will all participate together. And all on an equal footing, with clear rules based on trust.

This is exactly what we need to make a strong impact in the data economy – also in Europe.

I am firmly convinced that standards such as data protection, interoperability or ethical AI are not only enforced by law in our own country, but are also exported – to a certain extent – via strong, trustworthy products and services.

GAIA-X provides the basis for this ecosystem.

What is the biggest obstacle on the way there?

Above all, the organization of this huge process.

In the beginning we succeeded in translating the political narrative of sovereignty into the categories of economic value creation.

Now we have succeeded in deriving clear business value propositions from these economic imperatives. We have infrastructure providers who believe in the value of GAIA-X, as well as SMEs who see clear added value for their business, and start-ups who notice: This data availability is exactly what we need.

This distillation of the value proposition, the organization of the technical processes that underpin it, the recent founding of the GAIA-X driving association in Brussels – managing this process while taking all positions and sensitivities into account is the biggest challenge.

But, and I am very pleased about this, in the meantime the enthusiasm for GAIA-X has developed into a real success story. This works for itself. And finds its permanence in the AISBL.

Do you have a current book tip for my readers?

Two in fact: We are both united by our enthusiasm for the Trisolaris trilogy by Liu Cixin. Probably the most important sociological Sci-Fi work of recent years.

But one book has been close to my heart for a long time, even if it is not up to date: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. In this book there is wisdom for every situation in life. And at the end the great realization, that, to say it with Stefan Zweig: Coincidence decides more than any fixed plan.

This helps immensely to keep one’s plans agile and yet to keep the goal firmly in sight.

Thank you very much, Marco.

Image Source: A. Breit

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