WEF 2018: the futurists, technologists and entrepreneurs speaking at Davos

From Bill Gates to Dara Khosrowshahi, and Salesforce to MIT - here are the technology industry speakers at WEF 2018


The theme for this year's meeting of business, political and academic elites at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is 'Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World'. As you might expect, then, technology is on the agenda perhaps even more than last year's summit, which focused on the fourth industrial revolution.

From Bill Gates to Marc Benioff to will.i.am, read on for some of the most notable technologists speaking at the World Economic Forum this year, with accompanying embedded videos.  

Image credit: World Economic Forum
Image credit: World Economic Forum

Davos 2018: Marc Benioff – Salesforce

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff will speak at three panels – "Future Shocks: Rogue Technology", "In Technology We Trust?" and a "Friends of the Ocean" press conference.

The 25 January Rogue Technology session (above) will explore how technology could be used maliciously: to "annihilate plants and animals that underpin ecosystems" or how "biotech breakthroughs could wipe out global fish stocks". Benioff will be joined by Mary Cummings, director, Humans and Autonomy Lab (HAL) at Duke University along with UN special envoy for the ocean Peter Thomson, MIT neuroscience professor Feng Zhang, and the editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, Nicholas Thompson.

Davos 2018: Mary Flanagan – Futurist, Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities, Dartmouth

Artist, writer, designer and futurist Mary Flanagan will be a guest for two panels: 'Game-Changers: Playing Games for Good' and 'Putting Jobs Out of Work' (above). The latter will explore the evolving nature of employment in the digital age, and Flanagan will be joined by Arlie Russell Hochschild, professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and president and CEO of HCL Technologies C. Vijayakumar, among others.

Davos 2018: Bill Gates  

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is set to be a guest for a session called 'A New Era for Global Health', which will seek to address how to speed up and scale affordable innovation as well as closing the gap in access to healthcare on a global scale.

Davos 2018: Fabiola Gianotti – Director-General, CERN

Fabiola Gianotti is director general at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, more commonly known as CERN – the sprawling laboratory where the historical Higgs boson, or 'god particle' was proved to exist.

She will speak at three meetings: 'Creating a Shared Future through Education and Empowerment', the Meet the Co-Chairs press conference, and 'Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World' (above). For the latter, Gianotti will be joined by Chetna Sinha, founder and chair of the Mann Deshi Foundation, prime minister of Norway Erna Solberg, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, general secretary for the International Trade Union Confederation Sharan Burrow, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and ENGIE Group CEO Isabelle Kocher.

Davos 2018: Michael Gregoire - CEO, CA Technologies

Michael Gregoire will feature in two sessions: 'Strategic Outlook: The Digital Economy' and a press conference about up-skilling America's workforce to tackle the changing nature of employment in a digital future (above). He is joined by Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, SAP SE's CEO Bill McDermott, head of corporate affairs for the WEF Georg Schmitt and head of industries for WEF Cheryl Martin.

Davos 2018: Peggy Johnson - executive vice president business development, Microsoft

EVP for business development at Microsoft Peggy Johnson will join an all-women panel including Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at University of California, Berkley, New York Times Washington bureau chief Elisabeth Bumiller and Winnie Byanyima, executive director for Oxfam International. They will address the behavioural shifts and social changes that are most effective in fighting abuses of power and sexual harassment, as well as supporting women in leadership roles and speaking up about abuses of power.

Davos 2018: Dara Khosrowshahi - CEO, Uber

The new chief executive of controversial ride-sharing multinational Uber will join other technologists including Marc Benioff of Salesforce and Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat to discuss public trust issues with private advances in technology.

Davos 2018: Neelie Kroes – nonexecutive member of the board, Open Data Institute

Former European Commissioner for Digital Agenda in the EU Neelie Kroes will take part in a debate titled 'Strategic Outlook: The Digital Economy' where she will discuss how industries, institutions and innovation might impact the digital economy. The talk will also address the issue of free-flow of data across borders, and the promotion of digital skillsets and lifelong learning.

Davos 2018: R May Lee - Dean, School of Entrepreneurship and Management, ShanghaiTech University

ShanghaiTech University's dean for the School of Entrepreneurship and Managemen and ex-Wall Street exec R. May Lee will talk about the state of SMEs and startups – and how startup enterprises can contribute to wider economic growth.

Davos 2018: Jack Ma – Executive Chairman, Alibaba

Outspoken founder of the enormous ecommerce platform Alibaba Jack Ma will contribute to a talk called 'Enabling Ecommerce: Small Enterprises, Global Players', where he with other panellists will discuss how digital policies and practices can be shaped to "benefit rising entrepreneurs".

Davos 2018: Satya Nadella – CEO, Microsoft

The Microsoft CEO will feature on two panels: 'Putting an End to Modern Slavery', and 'Transforming Health in the Fourth Industrial Revolution' (above). Nadella talked at length about the societal implications of the fourth industrial revolution at last year's meeting, and this time he will join Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri, Centene Corporation CEO Michael F Neidorff, Pfizer COO Albert Bourla and deputy managing editor at the New York Times Rebecca Blumenstein to discuss how advances in technology will shape the future of healthcare.

Davos 2018: Sundar Pichai – CEO, Google

World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab will host a talk with Google CEO Sundar Pichai about the "age of artificial intelligence, the future of the open web and technology's impact on society."

Davos 2018: Matthew Prince – cofounder and CEO, Cloudflare

CEO of Cloudflare Matthew Prince will join Zenny Minton Beddoes, editor-in-chief of the Economist, along with CEOs from Wipro, General Atlantic, the New York Stock Exchange and AirAsia to try to unpick why fewer startups are going public for capital, instead opting for private VCs through to the new phenomenon of initial coin offerings.

Davos 2018: Ginni Rometty - Chairman and CEO, IBM

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty will feature in three sessions – 'Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World', the co-chair press conference for 2018, and 'Data Responsibility in a Fractured World' (above). For the latter, Rometty will be joined by figures from the financial world to address issues of security, trust and privacy about data, as well as the free flow of data and the creation of 'new collar' jobs.

Davos 2018: Dan Schulman – CEO, Paypal

Paypal CEO Dan Schulman will join VEON chairman of the supervisory board Ursula Burns, exec editor of the Wall Street Journal Matthew Murray, Baidu president Ya-Qin Zhang, CEO of Vodafone group Vittoria Colao and CEO of ABB Ulrich Spiesshofer to debate whether 20 years from now, technology will be seen as 'the great displacer' or 'democratiser of benefits' – or, indeed, somewhere in between.

Davos 2018: will.i.am – Founder and CEO, I.AM.PLUS

Black Eyed Peas member and CEO of i.am.plus Mr. i.am will talk with other entrepreneurs and CEOs about the general startup and SME landscape.

Davos 2018: Devin Wenig - President and CEO, eBay

eBay CEO David Wenig will join LSE director Minouche Shafik, MD of ICICI Bank Chanda Kochhar, Colombia's minister of finance Mauricio Cardenas, the editor in chief of Quartz Kevin Delaney, and general secretary of the International Trade Union Confideration Sharan Burrow for a panel called 'Saving Globalisation From Itself'. The talk will focus on how the move to globalisation has left local social and economic communities behind – and if addressing this could 'save economic globalisation from itself'.

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