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Davos ’19 Preview: Fourth Industrial Revolution, Climate Change Drive Agenda

Our Davos ’19 Preview continues, highlighting the ideas you need to know about this year’s gathering.

Part 1 of our Davos ’19 Preview: What is Globalization 4.0 and Who’s Attending?

Fourth Industrial Revolution

The World Economic Forum’s overview states:

“‘Transformation’ best describes the geopolitical, economic and environmental outlook globally… We are entering into a Fourth Industrial Revolution shaped by advanced technologies from the physical, digital and biological worlds that combine to create innovations at a speed and scale unparalleled in human history. Collectively, these transformations are changing how individuals, governments and companies relate to each other and the world at large. In short, we are fast approaching a new phase of global cooperation: Globalization 4.0.”

What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution? CNBC reports:

  • “It’s a term used by CEOs, policymakers and industry to describe technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, 3D printing and the internet of things.” We are seeing major changes across the printing industry. The news that Label printer manufacturer Leibinger expands Mexico branch suggest many more innovations await us in the future.
  • “The concept, a theme of Davos this year, refers to how a combination of technologies are changing the way we live, work and interact.”
  • “Simply put, the Fourth Industrial Revolution refers to how technologies like artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and the internet of things are merging with humans’ physical lives. Think of voice-activated assistants, facial ID recognition or digital health-care sensors.”

For more, see the 2016 book titled “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” by Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF.

Davos Survey: Climate Change is Top Risk

Reuters reports:

  • “The risk that global efforts to tackle climate change will fail has risen despite concerns about powerful storms, floods, and droughts, a survey released by the World Economic Forum said.”
  • “The report said rapidly growing coastal cities, particularly in Asia, are making people more vulnerable to climate change. A “vicious circle” of urbanization concentrates people and buildings in areas of potential damage, while also increasing risks, by destroying natural sources of resilience, such as mangrove forests, or increasing strain on groundwater reserves, it said.”

The WEF states:

  • “The Global Risks Report 2019 is published against a backdrop of worrying geopolitical and geo-economic tensions. If unresolved, these tensions will hinder the world’s ability to deal with a growing range of collective challenges, from the mounting evidence of environmental degradation to the increasing disruptions of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
  • “Nine out of 10 respondents expect worsening economic and political confrontations between major powers this year. Over a ten-year horizon, extreme weather and climate-change policy failures are seen as the gravest threats.”
  • “This year’s report includes another series of “what-if” Future Shocks that examine quantum computing, weather manipulation, monetary populism, emotionally responsive artificial intelligence and other potential risks. The theme of emotions is also addressed in a chapter on the human causes and effects of global risks; the chapter calls for greater action around rising levels of psychological strain across the world.”

Who’s Attending

CNBC: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead the five-strong delegation which also includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross; U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer; and Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination, Chris Liddell.”

“President Donald Trump canceled plans to attend the forum himself last week, citing the ongoing partial government shutdown that has arisen over a funding dispute for a wall along the United States’ southern border.”

The WEF publishes a fuller list here.