Vienna, June 18, 2021 – Philanthropist George Soros warns that, “the forces of authoritarianism are on the rise” and says we must work together to reverse the trend.
At his final graduation ceremony before stepping down as Central European University’s rector and president, Michael Ignatieff will call on the almost 500 students to “…. stand on the front line of our never-ending battle to defend the defenseless, house the homeless, befriend the friendless, in our never-ending battle to defend open societies from those who want to close them down.” In his speech, Ignatieff will mention CEU student Ahmed Samir Santawy, currently imprisoned by the Egyptian authorities for “defending the values of an open society”, and will reiterate CEU’s commitment to stand with Ahmed “until he is released and free to resume his studies with us”.
In his speech to the Class of 2021, Hungarian-born George Soros will say that artificial intelligence (AI) has created problems for free and open societies that they had never had to face before. Pointing to China, Mr. Soros remarks that “AI can produce instruments of control that are helpful for a regime like Xi Jinping’s China, but they pose mortal danger to open societies.” However, to complicate matters, he will also add that the world needs some of these instruments of control to tackle the pandemic. Alongside AI and the role of China, Mr. Soros will also call out inequality and climate change as global problems, with the latter “threatening the survival of our civilization.” For the full text, see here.
This July marks Michael Ignatieff’s last term as rector and president of CEU. He will continue as university professor in the history department.
Notes for Editors:
1. One of the world’s most international universities, a unique founding mission positions Central European University (CEU) as both an acclaimed center for the study of contemporary economic, social and political challenges, sustainability and the environment, and a source of support for building open and democratic societies that respect human rights and human dignity. CEU is based in Vienna and Budapest.
2. The full text of Mr. Soros’s speech is available here.
3. The winner of the 2021 CEU Open Society Prize, to be announced at the ceremony, is former Minister for Health for Kerala, India, Smt. K.K. Shailaja Teacher. Previous recipients of the CEU Open Society Prize include President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel, economist and Nobel Prize laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz, seventh Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, and 2015 Nobel Laurate for Literature Svetlana Alexievich among others. The Prize is awarded annually to persons of exceptional distinction who serve the ideals of an open society.