Tough conversations for tech at Davos this week

The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) 50th annual meeting, is happening this week at Davos, Switzerland.

The world’s top leaders from politics, business, civil society, academia, media and the arts will converge descend on the Swiss mountain village of Davos. It will convene nearly 3,000 participants from 117 countries, including 53 heads of state – with US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel among them.

The meeting will focus on six core areas: Ecology, Economy, Society, Industry, Technology and Geopolitics, which will be explored through nearly 400 different sessions, but naturally EITN will zoom into the technology conversations, which hopefully will be livestreamed or reported on the WEF website.

One perspective so far

The Information’s Jessica Lessin also drew attention to this year’s World Economic Forum, happening this week at Davos, Switzerland.

More specifically, she highlighted the tech agenda the annual event will have this year; there is an entire track titled, “Tech For Good.”

Having observed the event for a few years, Jessica commented, “With their businesses skyrocketing, executives from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Uber and Salesforce, to name a few, were rock stars. But amid privacy scandals and competition concerns, last year unfolded more like an apology tour.

“In 2020, expect more apologizing. But executives are going on the offensive, too. In fact, according to a copy of the agenda, there is an entire track entitled “Tech for Good.””

According to her also, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella had met up with a group of editors in New York to talk about how artificial intelligence would reshape businesses. She also thought that as the CEO of the world’s second largest technology company, he made a sobering point about “technology progress not showing up in broad spectrum economic growth.”

In fact, the last time that IT showed up in productivity stats was during the PC revolution, and that was pretty long ago.

Yes, with all the hullabaloo in recent times about privacy scandals, data breaches, anti-competition behaviour and more, a casual observer of WEF’s Tech for Good track, may be hard pressed to find positives outweighing the negatives.

As Nadella had pointed out, tech isn’t driving GDP growth, at least for United States.

The Information’s founder put it this way, “It’s not that people expected technology to be a panacea for all the world’s problems. But it’s hard to celebrate an industry that isn’t helping the overall picture and is hurting many other industries.”

Many would also be interested in how the watchdogs will weigh in with their opinions – the US Federal Trade Commission would be on a panel discussing GDPR and new privacy laws, while the European Commission president is keynoting at Davos.