THE BILDERBERG CONFERENCE 2018 AGENDA AND ATTENDEES
TOP of the Agenda at this year’s Bilderberg Meeting was ‘Populism in Europe’ – evidence of populism’s impact as it’s swept across Europe and America. It is surely no coincidence that Bilderberg took place in Turin, Italy, where the populist Five Star Movement and anti-immigrant League parties’ coalition threatens the stability and future of the European Union altogether. And as Donald Trump continues to blaze a trail through his Presidency, the Bilderberg group was also keen to discuss ‘US world leadership’ and ‘The US before midterms’.
There was a significant European Union representation in Turin last week, with Jose Manuel Barroso, former president of the European Commission (and now non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs) toasting his membership in the Bilderberg club with four serving EU Prime Ministers – Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Ana Brnabic, Prime Minister of Serbia, Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium and Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonia. They were joined by Spain’s deputy PM, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and Turkey’s deputy PM, Mehmet Simsek. Former Prime Minister of France, Bernard Cazeneuve, also flew out for the shindig, as did Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for budget and human resources at the European Commission.
Bilderberg says it exists as ‘a forum… to foster dialogue between Europe and North America’, and American VIPs always take time out of their busy schedules to attend Bilderberg. Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, has been attending Bilderberg on and off since 1957. Last weekend he made the trip out to Turin, in a wheelchair accompanied by minders, at the age of 95. David Petraeus, former director of the CIA, made an appearance alongside him, as did John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado. Representing the incumbent United States government were Matthew Turpin, the National Security Council’s Director for China, and James H. Baker, the director of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Many of America’s most prestigious universities attended the Bilderberg meeting including the Universities of Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Pennsylvania, Princeton, New York University and the American University. Think-tanks included the Hudson Institute and the Hoover Institution.
Figureheads from many industries including defence, communications, finance, business, politics, banking and academia are always represented at Bilderberg, but this year has truly been that of the technology titans. Bilderberg seems exceptionally keen to explore automation and the robotics, listing ‘The future of work’, ‘Artificial intelligence’ and ‘quantum computing’ as events on its Agenda. The 2018 cohort included the co-founder of LinkedIn, the CEO of Vodafone and the director of Harvard-MIT Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative.
Eric Schmidt, the former executive chairman of Google, has attended Bilderberg before and Google was the star of the show this year. Hartmut Neven, director of engineering of Google Inc. was in attendance alongside Demis Hassabis, the British co-founder and CEO of its AI branch DeepMind. They were joined by Jared Cohen, founder and CEO of Jigsaw at Alphabet (Google’s parent company). Cohen was formerly US on the Secretary of State's policy planning staff as an advisor to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. Bilderberg also invited experts and consultancies in the wider fields of Artificial Intelligence, such as Harvard-MIT Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative and PA Consulting Group, which specialises in AI.
Shifting sands in the Middle East and recent furore surrounding Russia were enough to garner places on the Agenda, with ‘Saudi Arabia and Iran’ and ‘Russia’ both listed. The Bilderberg Conference took place on exactly the same weekend as the G7 summit and the NATO Defence Meeting this year. Some speculate that conference calls took place between the three, but Bilderberg never releases details, minutes or reports of what is discussed other than its vague agenda list.