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WEF Davos annual meeting discusses major challenges faced by World

WEF annual summit discussed various themes concerning world. The main issues were

1. Latest Technologies and 4th Industrial Revolution:

a. In the area of technology new technological developments like robotics, automation and Artificial Intelligence will lead to 4th Industrial revolution. 

b. These developments will change the global labour markets and it will be challenge for the governments to cop up with the ensuing changes. 

c. Redundancy of jobs and associated skills will lead to net loss of jobs to the tune of 5 million and put a challenge before governments to provide future ready skills, control unemployment and inequality.

2. Rising inequalities:

a. Anti-poverty charity Oxfam has in the past said that 1% of world own more than 99%.

b. Rising inequalities are resulting into rise of left wing forces, political populism as seen in France and Hungary in recent was highlighted.

3.Gender Gap:

a. There are some positive movements like In the past decade, the gender gap across health, education, economic opportunity and politics has closed by only 4%.

b. It will take another 118 years until the global pay gap between men and women is finally closed. 

c. Since 2006, an extra quarter of a billion women have entered the labour force - and yet the annual pay for women only now equals the amount men were earning 10 years ago. 

4. Market Turmoil:

a. The impact market turmoil is going to have on society and polity, apart from economy is going to be huge. 

b. It may lead to social breakdown and trust in political leadership may evaporate, it will result into people questioning the credibility of the institutions, rise of extreme forces.

5. Climate Change:

a. Economic development around the world will be undermined if the targets on climate change are not met. 

b. The achievement of 16 SDG is undermined by the one SDG of addressing climate change.

6. Security Threats:

a. Tackling it through curbing terror funding and use of force. 

b. The focus was on propagating the humanistic values that bind the people together across religions, having a cultural understanding of the crisis like sectarianism, dictatorship, corruption, injustice etc and how these help terrorism.   

World Economic Forum provides a good platform for all the influential persons to come together and discuss the issues. But the main problem is that there are too many discussions and too few actions to walk the talk. Everyone realizes that there is a need to work in a co-coordinated manner in the globalised world to tackle all issues ranging from economic, security to migrant crisis. But there is no institutional mechanism to ensure that coordination. There is a need to rise above the concept of nationalism and move towards globalism which include our environment.

4th Industrial Revolution

At the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos this year, an important topic in light  is about the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution', described by the founder and executive chairman of WEF, Klaus Schwab, as a "technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another". It is seen as an important opportunity in altering the state of the world in present scenario.

What is 'Fourth Industrial Revolution'?

The fourth industrial revolution is conceptualised as an upgrade on the third revolution  and is marked by a fusion of technologies straddling the physical, digital and biological worlds. It will mark out as a new phase rather than a prolongation of the current revolution - velocity, scope, and systems impact and lead to the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance. In simple words, the new revolution can be said to be the advent of cyber-physical systems which, while being "reliant on the technologies and infrastructure of the third industrial revolution  represent entirely new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies and even our human bodies". 


• The 1st Industrial Revolution which occurred in 18th century in Britain used water and steam power to mechanize production, harnessing of steam power and birth of modern factory. 

• The 2nd Industrial Revolution, from the last 3rd of the 19th century to the outbreak of World War I, was powered by developments in electricity, transportation, chemicals, steel, and mass production and consumption. 

• Now a 4th Industrial Revolution is building on the 3rd, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.

How will it be different from 3rd revolution?

There are 3 reasons why today's transformations represent not merely a prolongation of the 3rd Industrial Revolution but rather the arrival of a 4th and distinct one: velocity, scope, and systems impact. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the 4th is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.

Impacts of fourth industrial revolution:

On Business:

• The Technologies that underpin the 4th Industrial Revolution will have a major impact on businesses. On the supply side, many industries are seeing the introduction of new technologies that create entirely new ways of serving existing needs and significantly disrupt existing industry value chains. It will improve the quality, speed, or price at which value is delivered.

• It will also lead to major shifts on the demand side are as growing transparency, consumer engagement, and new patterns of consumer behaviour (increasingly built upon access to mobile networks and data) force companies to adapt the way they design, market, and deliver products and services.

• IT will enable development of technology-enabled platforms that combine both demand and supply to disrupt existing industry structures of sharing or on demand economy. These technology platforms will create entirely new ways of consuming goods and services in the process. 

• It will lower the barriers for businesses and individuals to create wealth, altering the personal and professional environments of workers.

• The main effects that the 4th Industrial Revolution has on business are-on customer expectations, on product enhancement, on collaborative innovation, and on organizational forms.

On Government:

• New technologies and platforms will increasingly enable citizens to engage with governments, voice their opinions, coordinate their efforts, and even circumvent the supervision of public authorities. 

Though the governments will gain new technological powers to increase their control over populations, based on pervasive surveillance systems and the ability to control digital infrastructure. But they will increasingly face pressure to change their current approach to public engagement and policymaking.

On Security:

• The 4th Industrial Revolution will profoundly impact the nature of national and international security, affecting both the probability and the nature of conflict. 

• The advances in technology will create the potential to reduce the scale or impact of violence, through the development of new modes of protection, for example, or greater precision in targeting.

Impact on people:

• The 4th Industrial Revolution will change not only what people do but also who they are. It will affect  identity and all the issues associated with it: sense of privacy,  notions of ownership,  consumption patterns, the time people devote to work and leisure, and how they develop careers, cultivate skills, meet people, and nurture relationships.

• Constant connection may deprive people of one of life's most important assets: the time to pause, reflect, and engage in meaningful conversation.

Opportunities and challenges:

The 4th industrial revolution presents both new opportunities for global world along with the challenges. They can be discussed as:

• It has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world.

• It will make possible new products and services that increase the efficiency and pleasure of personal lives. Ordering a cab, booking a flight, buying a product, making a payment, listening to music, watching a film, or playing a game-any of these can now be done remotely.

• In the future, technological innovation may lead to a supply-side miracle, with long-term gains in efficiency and productivity. Transportation and communication costs will drop, logistics and global supply chains will become more effective and the cost of trade will diminish, all of which will open new markets and drive economic growth.

• The revolution could yield greater inequality, particularly in its potential to disrupt labour markets. The net displacement of workers by machines might exacerbate the gap between returns to capital and returns to labour.

• It is also possible that in the future, talent, more than capital, will represent the critical factor of production. This will give rise to a job market increasingly segregated into "low-skill/low-pay" and "high-skill/high-pay" segments.

• Inequality represents the greatest societal concern associated with the 4th Industrial Revolution. 

It is essential to grasp the opportunity and power to shape the 4th Industrial Revolution and direct it toward a future that reflects common objectives and values.

It is important to shape a future that works for all of us by putting people first and empowering them. In its most pessimistic, dehumanized form, the 4th Industrial Revolution may indeed have the potential to "robotize" humanity. But as a complement to the best parts of human nature-creativity, empathy, stewardship-it can also lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness based on a shared sense of destiny. For this world must develop a comprehensive and globally shared view of how technology is affecting our lives and reshaping our economic, social, cultural, and human environments.


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