Professor Klaus Schwab, the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF). PHOTO:WEF

Governments and world leaders need to be nimble and adaptable when it comes to the governance of technological advances in order to fully harness its potential to solve critical global challenges.

This is according to Professor Klaus Schwab, the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), who on Thursday released a new book entitled Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The book aims to help leaders develop the techniques necessary to harness technological advances.

Schwab argues that the unprecedented speed at which technology is developing makes outdated and redundant the approaches of governments, regulators and companies on which people rely to manage the impact of technologies.

Schwab suggests that leaders adopt a “systems leadership” approach to ensure that developments in technology are not able to occur without parallel consideration being given to rules, norms, values and infrastructure. 

Unless technology develops within an inclusive and sustainable governance system, the Fourth Industrial Revolution could exacerbate income inequality and leaving billions of people behind, while wasting the opportunity to deploy technology to help address global challenges he reasons.
 
"It took the world more than a decade to develop a collective response to climate change. If we take the same amount of time to respond to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we will have lost the opportunity to influence the development of the technologies that shape the way we work, live and act," he said. 

"If we act now, we have the opportunity to ensure that technologies – such as artificial intelligence – sustainably and meaningfully improve the lives and prospects of as many people as possible."

The book calls on leaders to rapidly adopt the concept of agile governance of technologies, matching the nimbleness of the technologies and the private-sector actors who create them in constantly updating and rethinking rules in collaboration with other sectors. 

For businesses, greater experimentation with new technologies and greater investment in people and skills are required to maximise firms’ ability to develop and bring to market winning innovations.
 
Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution urges people to be engaged in the issues surrounding the evolution of technology, and to make their voice heard to ensure that technology plays a positive role in helping to build a sustainable, inclusive, innovation-driven future.
 
The book draws on the contributions of more than 200 of the world's leading technology, economic and sociological experts to present a practical guide for citizens, business leaders, social influencers and policy-makers. 

The Annual Meeting of WEF takes place in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, from January 23 - 26, with more than 3,000 leaders from around the world set to gather under the theme "Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World".

African News Agency/ANA