By Erin Flaherty
As technology has developed, the state of the world’s economy has changed along with it. From the new opportunities it's opened up for businesses to run more efficiently, to the augmenting concerns of artificial intelligence taking the jobs of workers, technology has unarguably transformed labor economics worldwide.
The World Economic Forum, held yearly in Davos, Switzerland, has always had the same slogan, “committed to improving the state of the world”. However, it has had an ever changing agenda as issues surrounding the economy have been heavily affected by advancing technology. The forum has been held for over four decades and brings together world leaders of different economic views under various panels and discussion groups.
The forum’s three main categories of focus are global security issues, global consensus on issues, and mastering the fourth industrial revolution, which the organization that runs the forum claims is happening over the next decade, as technology is reshaping the economy as we know it. The organization says that “potential for positive global change exists at the intersection of these three challenges, and that progress will come through bringing together leaders from all walks of life to forge common understanding, purpose and, where appropriate, action”
The main discussions at this year’s event certainly reflect these focuses. Talk of rising cyber security issues dominated the conversation on global security. This year, the Managing Director of the forum announced the plan for a Global Centre for Cybersecurity in Genova, Switzerland. Most countries currently have private organizations to deal with the rising number of cyber attacks.
”The new Global Centre for Cybersecurity is designed as the first platform to tackle today’s cyber-risks in a truly global manner,” Alois Zwinggi, current Managing Director at the World Economic Forum and future head of the Global Centre for Cybersecurity stated.
The conversations on global issues and the fourth industrial revolution merged as new technology and its resulting consequences were discussed. One of the main concerns put forth was the inevitable possibility of artificial intelligence and automation replacing jobs. At a panel called “Putting Jobs Out of Work”, sociologist Arli Russell Hochschild stated that “I think we’re facing a crisis we aren’t talking about … we need continuing education [in response to automation]”.
Another issue is the implication of these new innovations. An initiative called “Closing the Skills Gap 2020” has been launched in order to encourage businesses to train their workers with the skills required for usage of artificial intelligence. 26 companies have already partnered with this plan and by 2020 nearly 8.1 million workers will be trained with new skills for the industrial changes to come.
This year’s forum has resulted in many plans of action priorly mentioned such as centers to focus on specific issues and technology training programs, but the main and biggest project announced is for the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The goal behind this center is to enhance the benefits of upcoming technology while controlling and minimizing the consequences. Huge companies and associations such as Microsoft and the American Heart Association have partnered with the center.
Plans like this distinguish this year’s forum in Davos from all previous ones. They show the initiative that the World Economic Forum is taking through announcing new programs and projects. If these centers are carried through and announced programs are implemented, they would be major steps towards the forum’s vision and commitment to improving the state of the world in the face of rising issues.