#WEF2017: Education the key
Davos - The Fourth Industrial Revolution promises great benefits but unless there was significant commitments to education, it also threatens to create wider income and opportunity gaps.
This was the warning from business and technology leaders in a session on preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the opening day of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, on Tuesday.
The session cited the accelerating pace of change driven by emerging technologies as both advantageous, but also threatening if not prepared for adequately.
"We are at a point where it is possible that technological development can accelerate and increase digital refugees," warned Marc R. Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce in the US.
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Vishal Sikka, CEO of Infosys, also in the US, added: "We have to put in an extra effort so that we don't create a bigger society of have-nots. That means a deep commitment to education and to addressing the displacements."
The key to preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution lay in the technologies themselves, argued Mukesh D. Ambani, Chairman and MD of Reliance Industries in India. "These technologies really are all-inclusive and will benefit all. In a sense they are great equalisers."
The rapid growth of e-commerce and digital cash in India was an example, he said. "And the fastest way to transmit education in a big country like India is through technology." Making these technologies inclusive would require designing them so that they benefited everybody and not just a few, Sikka said. "That requires empathy. I've always wondered why every company isn't a technology company."
Not new solutions
The panel agreed that focusing on education and promoting innovation were not new solutions to the challenges of inequality and marginalisation. "Education and entrepreneurship are the answers," Sikka stressed. "We just haven't been doing enough of it."
Benioff added what was required were fresh approaches or new models shaped through debate and collaboration among all stakeholders. He proposed that CEOs each adopt a public school.
Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of the General Motors Company in the US said that, for initiatives to be effective, it required building trust and articulating a vision. "You need to be incredibly transparent for people to have trust." To prepare for the disruptions of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, leaders would require their radar systems to pick up on displacement and discontent and a compass to set the values and vision needed to succeed, Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford in the UK, told participants.
Shu Yinbiao, Chairman of the State Grid Corporation of China said to weather challenges, greater collaboration between countries was needed. "Globalisation is inevitable and is good for the development of the global economy. We will need more international cooperation."
The 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is taking place this week in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, under the theme Responsive and Responsible Leadership.
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