UPDATE: As the World Economic Forum 2017 at Davos kicked off officially yesterday, here are some of the talks we think the technology industry should be looking out for from some of the biggest hitters in the industry.
How to watch Davos 2017 keynotes: Chuck Robbins – Strategic Update: The Future of Innovation
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins sat on a panel with the World Intellectual Property Organisation, PepsiCo, and Sequoia Capital to discuss research and innovation – namely: what the major drivers are in research worldwide. They discussed how business leaders should respond to the corporatization of research and the impact of intellectual property law on research and development. They also talked about how this sits with the tightening of national borders, which is a recent phenomena in the west with the rise of right-populist political parties – and part of the World Economic Forum’s unofficial themes this year.
How to watch Davos 2017 keynotes: Bill McDermott – The Future of the Digital Economy
SAP CEO Bill McDermott addressed how digital technologies will disrupt, complement and change existing industries – and how businesses should prepare for the oncoming upheaval. The panel also talked about how cybersecurity could affect the industrial internet of things – the concept of connected, smart industrial systems and a hot topic in the infosec world at the moment. SAP has plenty of industrial and manufacturing customers, and recently published an op-ed about the knock-on effects of automation and how this relates to the wave of populist movements that are shaking the neoliberal global consensus.
How to watch Davos 2017 keynotes: Satya Nadella, Ginni Rometty and Joichi Ito – Artificial Intelligence 1PM GMT, 17/01/2017
At 1pm Tuesday Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, and Joichi Ito, director of MIT’s Media Lab will discuss how businesses can best leverage the ongoing boom in artificial intelligence research. The talk will specifically relate to this use of AI in the corporate context, and the opportunities that will be found in verticles like health, banking, law and accountancy, and how machine learning and cognitive computing will fit into these industries. Nadella and Rometty are particularly well placed to discuss AI – with Microsoft investing heavily in the technology, having created the Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research Group. IBM, meanwhile, has been in the headlines for its groundbreaking work with the Watson supercomputer, most famous for acing a game of Jeopardy.
How to watch Davos 2017 keynotes: Marc Benioff – Preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution 5PM, 17/01/2017
Marc Benioff will be part of a panel to discuss how both the public and private spheres can advance the fourth industrial revolution – automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, the internet of things and machine learning – to “benefit all of humanity”.
How to watch Davos 2017 keynotes: Ginni Rometty – An Insight, An Idea. 10.30 AM GMT, 18/01/2017
Journalist and TV presenter Fareed Zakaria will host a talk with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, and is expected to ask her about “business transformation in the era of cognitive computing”.
How to watch Davos 2017 keynotes: Meg Whitman and Sheryl Sandberg – A Positive Narrative for the Global Community. 1PM GMT, 18/01/2017
This panel will feature HP Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, managing director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, TV and radio journalist Zeinab Badawi, filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Afghanistan National Institue of Music founder Ahmad Sarmast. They are expected to talk about a general feeling of positivity about the future among millennials and how “leaders can draw on this spirit to envision positive narratives for the future”.
How to watch Davos 2017 keynotes: Jack Ma – An Idea with Jack Ma – 5.15PM GMT, 18/01/2017
Alibaba founder Jack Ma will be joined by the New York Times’ editor at large Andrew R Sorkin in a conversation about the future of online trade and globalisation.
How to watch Davos 2017 keynotes: Sergey Brin and Klaus Schwab – An Insight, An Idea – 1.15PM GMT, 19/01/2017
WEF founder Klaus Schwab will talk with Google founder Sergey Brin about the fourth industrial revolution, one of WEF 2017’s key topics, along with leadership and entrepreneurship.
How to watch Davos 2017 keynotes: Bill Gates – CEPI: A Global Initiative to Fight Epidemics 1.30PM GMT, 19/01/2017
Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates is set to speak on a panel with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to examine how the group responded to the recent Ebola outbreak, and how this can be a learning point for future crises.
What is the World Economic Forum at Davos?
This week, business leaders and heads of state from all over the planet will head to Davos in Cologny, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum – and this year’s agenda reads like a technology conference.
Computerworld UK counted 24 panels and talks about the economic and social impact of technology over the three-day event, beginning 17 January. These range in subject matter but, just like last year, the “fourth industrial revolution” is a topic that comes up time and again – following on from the acceptance that it is indeed happening, and into tacit planning for the seismic disruption to society that it will cause.
Indeed, the official website for the World Economic Forum has committed a full page under its ‘Global Agenda’ section for discussing the fourth industrial revolution.
“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live work and relate to one another,” the page reads. “In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.”
The annual Davos event sees politicians and heads of state rub shoulders with business leaders, celebrities, strands of academia, government officials, and heads of banks and hedge funds. This year the attendee list from European countries is somewhat thin as major figures like Angela Merkel skip the event. It will give pride of place to Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Major figures from the technology industry who will be attending include Marc Benioff, Bill Gates, Jack Ma, Bill McDermott, Chuck Robbins, Ginni Rometty, Sheryl Sandberg, Vishal Sikka, Meg Whitman and Satya Nadella. The event can be generally thought of as the reaching of consensus on the talking points that matter most economically, socially and politically, according to politicians and businesses.
Some events related to this fourth industrial revolution include how to prepare for it, what it will do to existing jobs, and even a talk about universal basic income – a concept that was once considered a fringe pipe dream but with the reality of automation on the horizon, is being given more consideration.
Satya Nadella will take part in a debate about in artificial intelligence and how this can “benefit society as a whole”. Other technology-specific events include the “future of warfare”, several on cybercrime, a debate on privacy becoming a “luxury good”, 'fake news', Fintech, cyber warfare and driverless cars.
The rise of right-wing populist politics, increasing social division, declining living standards in the West, Britain’s exit from the European Union, and the state of globalist neoliberal economics will all also be discussed during the event.