None other gatherings of the secretive Bilderberg group ever had more important topics to discuss than during this year’s meeting at Pestana Palace hotel in Lisbon, Portugal. The participants in the 69th edition on 18-21 May focused on economic and political challenges such as the banking system, China, energy transition, Europe, India, and industrial policy and trade, but the top debate was dominated by artificial intelligence.
Although the Bilderberg meetings are informal and do not produce any statements or resolutions, the significance and urgency of discussions can be extracted from the summary of topics and the list of invitees, which the organizer, the Foundation Bilderberg Meetings, published on the group’s website.
The key topics included AI; Banking System; China; Energy Transition; Europe; Fiscal Challenges; India; Industrial Policy and Trade; NATO; Russia; Transnational Threats; Ukraine; and US Leadership.
The exact number of guests is unknown – only 127 participants agreed to have their presence treated with transparency. About two thirds of participants came from Western Europe (+Poland) and the rest from North America. Approximately one quarter of them represented politics and government, but most guests are from different backgrounds: business, security, academia, and even media (The Atlantic, Bloomberg, Economist, Financial Times, Kurier).
In past meetings, around 150 people attended the Bilderberg discussions.
Ukraine’s participation was secured by Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and the Russians were not invited.
US President Joe Biden, who did not attend the 2023 edition, sent instead his senior China policy adviser Elizabeth Economy and the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Jen Easterly.
Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who on May 27 celebrated his 100th anniversary, has been attending Bilderberg meetings since 1957.
One of the newcomers is Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, the firm behind the AI chatbot ChatGPT. Microsoft delegated its CEO Satya Nadella while Google/Alphabet chose not to publicize its almost certain participation in the meeting. But the name of Eric Schmidt, a former Google CEO, was on the list.
A few days prior to the 69th Bilderberg meeting Schmidt – acknowledging the existential risks of AI – told a hearing in Congress that artificial intelligence was at the heart of competition between China and the US and any pause in super AI development “would simply benefit China,” which is designing a bipolar world order.
Altman too shared his concerns about AI at a US Senate hearing, warning that the constantly improving technology may bamboozle the voting public with plausible fakery – hinting at the US presidential election in 2024.
Although he has publicly supported AI regulation, last month he shocked the public by saying that if the European Union insisted on too tough measures, OpenAI might withdraw from Europe.
The Bilderberg Meeting is an annual off-the-record forum for discussions about major issues. The meetings are held under the Chatham House Rule, which states that participants are free to use the information received, but neither the content, nor the identity or the affiliation of the speakers nor any other participant may be revealed.
It was established in 1954 to foster dialogue between Europe and North America. The first conference was held at the Hotel de Bilderberg in Oosterbeek, the Netherlands, from 29 to 31 May 1954.
Conspiracy communities call it a committee working to install a new world order under a global government.