By Katie Mowery,
Director, Content Strategy at Clarity Insights

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is underway in Davos, kicking off the year with essential conversations to better our world. Themes include: Healthy Futures, How to Save the Planet, Tech for Good, Beyond Geopolitics, Society & Future of Work, Better Business, and Fairer Economies — hefty topics indeed to match the caliber of talent attending this meeting of the minds.

Defining the key priorities within the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is a steep task that won’t be solved this week alone, yet every conversation takes us one step closer to greater clarity of intent and corresponding actions — be they proactive or corrective. To stay abreast of the most important discussions, whether live or via recap, I’ve curated a shortlist that focuses on technological advancement, business innovation, and the evolving nature of the workforce. While no list could ever be exhaustive, I hope this fosters productive dialogue between leaders and casts a personally meaningful evaluation for goal-setting and investments this year and well beyond.

Tech for Good

A large focus for the tech community and other critical players will be on ethics (particularly for new and broadening AI capabilities), trust and cybersecurity (read this article on securing IoT), but other topics will also take to the stage. Mobility — and its impact in developing countries — as well as blockchain will be prominent areas of interest. If you have a passion for drones, you’re in good company: from delivering blood to remote communities or powering beach-protecting robo-sharks, the future of drones is on full display. Ultimately, somber conversations on topics of geopolitical unrest and climate change will be balanced by tempered optimism, showing the benefits of technological progress — like blockchain and AI — and how they can and are already being used as tools for new solutions to longstanding, complex issues.

A few panels to consider streaming live or via recap:

Wednesday, 1/22

  • The Role of the New Industrialists (11:15 – 12:00 CET; 5:15 – 6:00 a.m. EST)
  • Humans Behind Machines (13:00 – 13:45 CET; 9:00 – 9:45 a.m. EST)

Thursday, 1/23

  • Building Trust in Data Flows (10:15 – 11:00 CET; 4:15 – 5:00 a.m. EST)
  • Creating a Credible and Trusted Digital Currency (17:15 – 18:00 CET; 1:15 – 2:00 p.m. EST)

Friday, 1/24

  • Investing in the Next Digital Frontier (9:00 – 9:45 CET; 3:00 – 3:45 a.m. EST)

Addressing the Skills Gap

The skills gap continues to plague stakeholders, from debates surrounding the impact of AI to the benefits of digital technologies for manufacturing workers. There’s certainly buzz circulating on the topic of re-skilling (for the digital economy and more broadly) and also, perhaps more interestingly, de-learning, highlighting the increasing importance of “soft skills” — and critical thinking combined with independent thought — to aid technology in a world where automation augments day-to-day job descriptions rather than replacing human ingenuity.

Live sessions to watch:

Wednesday, 1/22

  • Social Mobility: Reskilling the Next Billion (14:15 – 15:00 CET; 10:15 – 11:00 a.m. EST)

Better Business

From conscious consumerism and sustainability to renewable energy and net-zero emissions (read this take: sustainable finance starts with data), private sector accountability for environmental impact is going to be one of the most talked about topics at this year’s Davos. Stakeholder capitalism and the role corporate governance plays in decision-making will provide compelling discussion, as well as new public-private partnerships to address the core issues of the day. Systems leadership — a cousin to the oft-discussed and widely embraced Design Thinking — offers new perspectives on problem-solving.

Live sessions include:

Wednesday, 1/22

  • The Future of Financial Markets (10:30 – 11:15 CET; 4:30 – 5:15 a.m. EST)

Thursday, 1/23

  • The Future of Mobility (13:00 – 13:45 CET; 9:00 – 9:45 a.m. EST)
  • Fostering Transparency and Trust in Global Supply Chains (17:15 – 18:00 CET; 1:15 – 2:00 p.m. EST)

Friday, 1/24

  • A Strategy for the Next Growth Cycle (9:00 – 9:45 CET; 3:00 – 3:45 a.m. EST)

Whether you skim the headlines from articles linked above or take a moment to delve into a live-session discussion, let us know what is most salient to you. There’s lots to discuss and even more to see through: we’ll be right here for all of it.

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