The World Economic Forum: Four Takeaways
World Economic Forum panel: The Transformation of Tomorrow. Source: Rwanda Eye
On January 20, 2016, OpenGov CEO Zac Bookman joined a World Economic Forum panel to discuss the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution, a new era defined by the fusion and deployment of technologies like artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles. Joined by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Mahindra Group Chairman Annad Mahindra, and the New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin, Zac and the other panelists explored the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s transformative global effects. Here are four key takeaways:
1. Empathy is everything: Billions of people are connecting for the first time. And these relationships must be grounded in empathy. A connected globe both increases the need for empathy, and expands the opportunity to foster it. Governments are not exempt. All governments, from towns to nations, have to build empathetic relationships with each other and the public to spread innovation and foster trust. Governments that grow public empathy with its operations by embracing transparency and sharing narratives bolster public engagement and our civic life.
2. Governments must prepare for unemployment (again): Increased structural unemployment accompanied all historical Industrial Revolutions, and this one is no different. New technologies like 3D printing and autonomous vehicles boost productivity, but they also replace jobs. Governments must empower massive amounts of workers to retrain and re-engage with the new economy. The public will demand investments in initiatives like Adult Education, and governments need to strategize how to provide the infrastructure and programs to support these services.
3. Innovation empowers leaders: Bold leaders deploy new technologies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution to grapple with unprecedented challenges. And bold leadership is critical in government: the only institution that can respond to economic and social changes wrought by technological innovation. New technologies that vex government leaders also empower them. The cloud and data analytics are merging to deliver relevant, actionable intelligence from across the government; new networks between governments allow budgetary innovations to spread rapidly around the globe; and data visualization technologies enable leaders to share their stories with the public and build the trust necessary for reforms.
4. Democracy thrives when governments bolster their tech: Zac explained how, for too long, technologists underserved governments. Inferior technology prevents elected officials and public administrators from providing the best possible services for citizens, and public faith in our institutions erodes. Technologists from all industries recognize this problem, and are collaborating with entrepreneurs and investors to help governments catch up to and even surpass the private sector. Empowered governments engage with the public to provide better services, foster trust, and cultivate civic culture.