George Soros at Davos: 5 Takeaways from His Big Speech

January 25, 2019, 11:45 AM UTC

Investor and activist George Soros had a lot to say at Davos this week, particularly on China. Here’s a run-down of the top five issues he believes the world needs to tackle:

Trojan Telecoms
What he said: “Instead of letting ZTE and Huawei off lightly, [the United States] needs to crack down on them… If these companies came to dominate the 5G market, they would present an unacceptable security risk for the rest of the world.”
Why he said it: The U.S. and many of its allies have declared Huawei and ZTE too beholden to the Chinese state and are banning its use in a growing number of military, research, and other government-related contexts.

Social Credit
What he said: “I find the social credit system frightening and abhorrent… it will subordinate the fate of the individual to the interests of the one-party state in ways unprecedented in history.”
Why he said it: China has been developing a social credit system that could influence people’s access to travel and jobs in much the way the financial credit system affects loan rates elsewhere.

Chinese Premier Xi Jinping
What he said:
“Xi Jinping wants a one-party state to reign supreme… He is the most dangerous opponent to those who believe in open societies.”
Why he said it: In 2017, Xi won additional constitutional protections for the Communist Party in China, including ‘absolute’ rule over the military and economic strategy.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning:
What he said: “I want to call attention to the mortal danger facing open societies from the instruments of control that machine learning and artificial intelligence can put in the hands of repressive regimes… The instruments of control developed by artificial intelligence give an inherent advantage of totalitarian regimes over open societies.”
Why he said it: China aims to be the global leader in AI by 2030.

Social Networks
What he said:
“Facebook and the others are on the side of their own profits”.
Why he said it: Facebook drew a lot of criticism last year about its oversight of political campaigning and privacy violations. Despite its attempts to make peace with its users, regulators are increasingly looking to tighten the reins on Facebook and all the other major social media players.