Tuesday 22 October 2019

Internet founder Tim Berners-Lee urges firms to ditch 'clickbait'

World Wide Web Inventor Tim Berners-Lee speaks during the inauguration of Web Summit
World Wide Web Inventor Tim Berners-Lee speaks during the inauguration of Web Summit
Paddy’s Day: Paddy Cosgrave gestures on stage during the opening of the Web Summit in Lisbon

Adrian Weckler In Lisbon

THE inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, said that the internet needed to wean itself off "clickbait" and that another "revolution" was needed.

Opening the Web Summit in Lisbon, Mr Berners-Lee said that "a lot has gone wrong on the web", but stopped short of specifically condemning Facebook and Google - the two companies most associated with transforming the internet's business model.

"It doesn't have to be clickbait... Stop trying to distract the user," he told the 12,000-seater Altice Arena in Lisbon.

"These people need to step back and do things differently. It doesn't have to be clickbait. It's about going back to values."

The tech conference, which organisers say has 70,000 registered attendees, was opened by founder Paddy Cosgrave.

At the conference, Apple's senior vice-president for the Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson, said that tech companies could focus on environmental issues without threatening their profitability.

"There is no conflict between a healthy planet and a healthy bottom line... It's a false choice," she said.

Ms Jackson is the first Apple executive to speak at the Web Summit, which has expanded its range of commercial partners.

The conference now has substantial automotive and industrial IT business delegates, many of which pay over €100,000 to attend and to put up a stand.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for a global ban on killer robots and autonomous lethal military drones.

"Autonomous machines with the power and the capacity to take human lives on their own without human control are politically unacceptable, morally repugnant and should be banned by international law," he said.

Prior to selling out this year, tickets to the Web Summit cost up to €25,000 each.

Last month, the Web Summit announced that it had signed a €110m deal with the Portuguese government to stay in Lisbon for the next 10 years.

The company had been engaged in "a competitive tender process" with other European cities over the last year.

The deal also includes what the Web Summit describes as a "€3bn buyout clause", should another city want to tempt the event away.

The conference venue in Lisbon will also double in size to facilitate the Web Summit's expansion in scale, according to the Portuguese government.

Irish Independent

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