“Estonian President Kaljulaid: Technology is moving too quickly to simply regulate, we need something radically different”


“Estonia usually doesn’t create technology. We create legal space for that technology to come to Estonia and thrive,” president of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid said yesterday during a speech to Volvo Group executives in Gothenburg, Sweden. She emphasized that the next step should be to regulate the relations between human beings and algorithms. 

 President Kaljulaid said that technology has already reached a point where new technologies, in turn, change the situation dramatically and quickly, the legal system cannot keep up if it plans to regulate every new technology separately. “Our children cannot recognize mobile phones from the 90’s as mobile phones,” she said. “We realized we must do something radically different and now we are discussing to regulate the relations between human beings and algorithms in a technologically neutral way,” she said.

Another serious legal challenge will be how to redesign national tax systems to function in a world where people do not work in a fixed, physical environment, president Kaljulaid added. “Globally it’s not recognized that technology has made people free. You can work in Australia in the morning, in the United States in the evening, you can sit in Sweden or by the Mediterranean,” she noted. “You need to be thinking totally differently in the digital society. If your people work everywhere, whom are they going to pay their taxes to? Probably to those who offer them a safe harbor of services globally.”

“If you do not offer them a way to stay connected to your state, they will disconnect. They will use private services or try to opt-in when they need your services, but you would lose a huge amount of tax money. It is not about taxing Starbucks or Google or Facebook, you have to follow each individual and have a contract and agreement with these people in order to have a fair social system,” president Kaljulaid added.

Photos: Mattias Tammet, Office of the President

Krishan Chand

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