What to expect from the Davos World Economic Forum 2018

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons/WEF
Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons/WEF

This year's meeting of business and political elites at Davos in Switzerland will include a continued focus on the 'fourth industrial revolution' and how technology can be applied to social problems such as global warming.

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Like clockwork, the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland rings in the new year every January, where some of the most powerful CEOs, politicians, academics and 'thought leaders' will meet to discuss what they believe are the issues of the day – so what's on the agenda?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, technology is set to feature heavily for the 48th meeting at WEF 2018, held 23-26 January. Last year many of the talks were about artificial intelligence and automation, and the impact that these might have on society, employment, and productivity. The 'fourth industrial revolution' is likely to feature heavily this year.

Significantly, American president Donald Trump will be in attendance, in spite of his historic-low approval rating – and attracting protesters who unfurled a sign that read 'kill Trump with his own weapon'. Controversial prime minister of India for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will also attend.

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell, meanwhile, has announced that he will attend Davos where he is anticipated to "set out why it is vital we rewrite the rules of the global economy".

A spokesperson told the Guardian: "He will further explain Labour's vision for an alternative economic approach to replace the current model of capitalism that has failed the many and led to an unsustainable concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few." 

The full agenda will be published 2PM CET tomorrow, Tuesday 16 January.

The official theme is 'Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World' and will aim to discuss the emergence of new political narratives in the globalised context, plus 'collective purpose', a perceived erosion of Rousseau's social contract, and the new role technology will play in addressing all of this. These will be discussed through 14 'system initiatives', which are:

  • Shaping the Future of Consumption 
  • Shaping the Future of Digital Economy and Society 
  • Shaping the Future of Economic Progress 
  • Shaping the Future of Education, Gender and Work 
  • Shaping the Future of Energy 
  • Shaping the Future of Environment and Natural Resource Security 
  • Shaping the Future of Financial and Monetary Systems 
  • Shaping the Future of Food Security and Agriculture 
  • Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare 
  • Shaping the Future of Information and Entertainment 
  • Shaping the Future of International Trade and Investment 
  • Shaping the Future of Long-Term Investing, Infrastructure and Development 
  • Shaping the Future of Mobility Shaping the Future of Production

You can expect themes to focus on the role technology can play in solving various crisis, including, for example, global warming.

Co-chairs include IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and the MD of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde.  

Cyber security will be under the spotlight, with the WEF launching a new 'Global Centre for Cybersecurity' and releasing a report last week to coincide with this launch. The report, titled 'Cyber Resilience: Playbook for Public-Private Collaboration' (WEF) suggests governments and businesses are being overwhelmed by new cyber threats.

The WEF this month also released a report on the 'Readiness for the Future of Production', focusing on uncertainties surrounding the fourth industrial revolution in both the public and private sector.

Last year's speakers included Bill Gates, Satya Nadella, CAP CEO Bill McDermott, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, HPE CEO Meg Whitman and Alibaba founder Jack Ma

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