5 things you should know about the Davos Conference 2018

Davos Conference 2018 has delivered quite some food for thought, as expected from one of the most prestigious events in the sphere of geopolitics.

Around 2,500 international political and business leaders, economists, Nobel laureates, celebrities and journalists flock to Davos, Switzerland to take part in the yearly conference organised by the World Economic Forum (WEF ).

For the first time, the European Research Council (ERC) was represented and took part in the conversation.

Here are the five major takeaways from the Davos Conference 2018.

Education

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group, highlighted the need to rethink the whole concept of education, going from a knowledge-based approach to a model that will not put our children in the position to compete with the machines. According to Ma, education of future will have to focus on soft skills, values, independent thinking and proactive collaboration.

Nemat Shafik, Director of the London School of Economics, described the importance of getting rid of all those repetitive and standardised tasks that are doomed to be automated. Creative skills, the ability to search, synthesise and extrapolate, are the winning factors for the next generations. She also associated the rise of populism and the number of ultra-conservative voters with the fear of being inadequate for the new challenges of the future.

Finally, the Director General of CERN, Fabiola Gianotti, stated that “we need to break the cultural silos” in order to achieve “the highest expression of the curiosity and creativity of humanity”.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Sundar Pichai, Google CEO said that AI would be bigger than fire or electricity because it can change everything that we do and is free from the constraints most resources have. He warned about the possible threat of weaponizing AI and suggested the creation of a global framework to regulate and control the autonomous systems.

While discussing the ‘Future Shocks: Rogue Technology’, Mary Cummings, Director of Duke University’s Humans and Autonomy Lab, pointed out that without understanding the algorithms of autonomous technologies, we are getting ahead of ourselves. She suggested that undestanding the technological phase that is coming to its end and directing our actions accordingly requires a stronger collaboration between government, academics and companies.

Jack Ma considers that while AI may be jeopardising jobs, “computers can never be as wise as men” and “The AI and robots are going to kill a lot of jobs”. Like it happened with the industrial revolution, many tasks will fall on the machines in the future.

Cyber Security

Davos Conference 2018 labelled massive data fraud and cyber attacks a major global risk. The Internet of things is likely to grow to about 20.4 billion devices by 2020. The use of cloud services is also expected to grow exponentially. Despite all benefits, the increase in the use of cloud-based services will boost the number of hacks. The cybercriminal will extend from identity theft to taking down whole systems that make life possible nowadays, such as Power Grids.

Founding of the Global Center for Cyber Security in March 2018 with headquarters in Geneva is a response to these risks. The centre will work as an autonomous organization by collaborating with companies and governments for sharing global cybersecurity information and by creating a regulatory framework and developing recommendations of “Cyber Resilience Playbook”. You can find the whole document here.

War on the Fake News

In the panel “In Technology We Trust”, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May stressed the need for regulating the large technology companies. Such companies work beyond national borders, hence one country or one government cannot deliver international standards and rules for Global Digital World. Most tech companies operate outside any specific regulatory framework.

A joint venture between WEF and Craig Newmark Foundation was launched to bring the giants of the Internet, social media and shared platforms together to contain the phenomena of the Fake News. This initiative will be furthered this year to promote high-quality information.

Automation

As per the Global Risks Report 2018 (download here), the consequences of technological advances have created a great threat to society. Automation has disrupted the labour market and will continue to do so. As a result, the gap between the rich and the poor will be further widened. The low-skill jobs are getting eliminated at a faster rate, leaving the uneducated workers without any source of earning. The Fourth Industrial Revolution runs predominantly on knowledge, so governments and businesses should work together to provide skills and qualifications to workers to empower them to participate productively in the global digital economy. The Forum announced the launch of its initiative ”Closing the Skills Gap” to deliver new skills to 10 million workers by 2020. Moreover, the IT Industry Skills Initiative will reach one million IT workers by 2021 through its SkillSET portal.

Davos Conference 2018: conclusions

The Davos Conference 2018 had a high focus on the way technology trends will affect people. While technology is vital for progress, we must also be aware of its impact on our society which is why we need to:

  • Prepare new generation for the new industrial revolution that will come with the spreading of the AI technologies,
  • Anticipate the Risks of such technologies at all levels,
  • Keep in mind the importance of an international Regulation and Control the Internet giants.

These are some of the biggest digital transformation messages the leaders of today who met at Davos Conference 2018 sent into the world this year, hoping they would guide the global community on its way of improvement and making this world a better place.

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