The tech elite is returning to the Portuguese capital for Europe’s largest technology event which opens its doors again.
The tech elite is returning to the Portuguese capital for Europe’s largest technology event which opens its doors on Tuesday evening.
Around 70,000 people are expected to gather in Lisbon for Web Summit, the four-day event which will host more than 2,600 start-ups and high-level speakers for four days.
Getting tough on cryptocurrencies, climate change and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be the biggest talking points across the various stages, Web Summit’s co-founder and organiser Paddy Cosgrave told Euronews Next.
But what has also come under scrutiny are Web Summit’s choices when it comes to which voices to give a platform after the conference invited journalists from a controversial far-left news website that has been accused of publishing pro-Russian propaganda.
The event’s organisers were criticised by the Ukrainian delegation following the invitation, which Web Summit then rescinded.
“We understand the reaction of many to The Grayzone’s presence in Lisbon and we pledge to approach the crucial issues of freedom of expression and platform technologies with greater care,” the organisation said in a series of tweets.
“We do our best to listen to our attendees or speakers partners. But in this instance, there was a there’s a considerable backlash to the participants that had been on the website for several months, and people kind of hadn’t noticed them or certain people have noticed them,” Cosgrave told Euronews Next.
“And then we made the decision to cancel their speaking slots at the event”.
Conversely, Cosgrave said there was also disquiet among Pulitzer prize-winning journalists who told him not to cancel them as they still speak on Spotify, Twitter Youtube and other social media platforms.
Our job is to push the boundaries of debate and discourse. We’ve never wanted to be vanilla when some large gatherings are important.
CEO and co-founder, Web Summit
Another speaker at Web Summit who has been another cause for contention is the American philosopher Noam Chomsky who has suggested that Kyiv make concessions to Russia to “peacefully” end the war.
But Cosgrave said he would not cancel Chomsky as he is speaking on artificial intelligence and because he believes in the right to free speech.
“Our job is, I think, to push the boundaries of debate and discourse,” he said.
“We’ve never wanted to be vanilla when some large gatherings are important. Gatherings in Europe have talked about philanthropy but we’ve said, well, that’s bullshit. We’re talking about corporate tax, but corporate tax evasion.
“And we platform some of the most important people, in my view, undone”.