World Economic Forum Announces Global Technology Governance Summit and Flagship Report

  • World Economic Forum announces the inaugural Global Technology Governance on 6‑7 April 2021. The summit will be held virtually and in Tokyo, Japan.
  • It will convene stakeholders from key industries, government, technology, civil society, and academia to drive cross-sector action on the most pressing technological challenges of our time.
  • The summit will focus on four core areas: industry transformation, government transformation, global technology governance and frontier technologies such as synthetic biology.
  • The Global Technology Governance Report will be a focal point of the summit. The report identifies 33 governance gaps across five technology areas: Artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, drones and unmanned air systems, internet of things (IoT), and mobility (including autonomous vehicles).
  • Read the Global Technology Governance Report here.

New York, USA, 2 December 2020 – The World Economic Forum today published its flagship Global Technology Governance

Report in advance of its upcoming Global Technology Governance Summit. The summit will be held virtually and in Tokyo, Japan, from 6 to 7 April 2021. The central focus will be the transformation experienced as a result of COVID-19 and its technological impact on society, businesses, and governments. The theme of the meeting is Harnessing New Technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies can play a significant role in helping societies emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever” shared Murat Sönmez, Managing Director, World Economic Forum. However, if not directed with purpose, the Fourth Industrial Revolution could exacerbate inequality; therefore, proactive steps must be taken to ensure technology adoption does not heighten abuse of power, bias, wealth disparities, exclusion and loss of livelihoods.”

Efforts to recover from COVID-19 have triggered an influx of innovations in work, collaboration, distribution and service delivery – and shifted many customer behaviours. While these technologies can help drive enormous social breakthroughs and economic value, they can also be misused.

New governance models are required to fill gaps, enhance technology’s benefits and avoid harm. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the urgent need to address these gaps.

The World Economic Forum and Deloitte produced a practical handbook to examine some of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s most critical applications. The report aims to address these technologies’ governance challenges in a post-pandemic world so they can reach their full potential.

“Every industrial revolution has reshaped economies and social structures in ways that have defined local, regional and global history. The technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution are already presenting opportunities and challenges we can only address through a forward-looking and innovative approach to governance,” said William D. Eggers, Executive Director of the Deloitte Center for Government Insights. “The question is, how can we harness and shape this disruption in a way that promotes global economic recovery, expands human opportunity and increases cooperation and security?”

Global Technology Governance Report 2021

The analysis revealed common challenges across the five Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, focused on:

· Artificial intelligence (AI)

· Blockchain

· Drones and unmanned air systems

· Internet of things (IoT)

· Mobility (including autonomous vehicles)

Cross-cutting technology governance gaps
Image: Deloitte Analysis

These challenges include a lack of regulation, misuse of technology, and addressing cross-border differences. For instance, one estimate suggests that bitcoin accounts for more than 90% of ransomware payments. The lack of regulation of facial recognition technologies and incidents of misuse by law enforcement agencies has caused a backlash against this technology throughout the world.

There are common themes in what makes technology governance effective. For example, many governing bodies are unprepared for the legal consequences of facial recognition and other transformative technologies – much less the ethical implications. The report profiles a series of innovative governance and regulatory frameworks to address these and many other challenges.

Governing these new technologies will require new principles, rules and protocols that promote innovation while mitigating social costs. This report aims to help governments, innovators and other stakeholders understand the current challenges.

The study will enable conversations across a broad cross-section of stakeholders to partner on technology governance globally.

Global Technology Governance Summit 2021

Solving this dilemma requires a more agile approach to governing advanced technologies, creating public-private partnerships and managing business models. To that end, the World Economic Forum, as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, is convening the first Global Technology Governance Summit virtually and in Tokyo, Japan, on 6-7 April 2021 in close collaboration with the Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network launched in 2017.

This global network comprises more than 50 governments and international organizations as well as 150 companies. The summit will have 250 on-site participants with 300 more joining virtually.

The Co-Chairs of the summit are:

· Mukesh D. Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries, India

· Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister in Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative of Singapore

· Marc Benioff, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Salesforce, USA

· Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Belgium

· Alice Gast, President, Imperial College London, United Kingdom

· Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo, Japan

· Hiroaki Nakanishi, Executive Chairman, Hitachi, Japan

· Elizabeth Rossiello, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, AZA, Kenya

· Jim Hagemann Snabe, Chairman, Siemens, Germany

The Forum’s top priority is the health and safety of all participants at the summit, including the host country. Given this situation’s dynamic nature, the Forum will follow the necessary protocols and procedures through evidence-based decision-making.

The network helped Rwanda write the world’s first agile drone regulation and scaled it up throughout Africa and Asia. It has developed a toolkit for using blockchain to provide transparency and trust in supply chains, worked with the U.K government to implement a procurement framework for Artificial Intelligence, co-designed the first-ever Industrial IoT Safety and Security Protocol, and created a personal data policy framework with the United Arab Emirates.

More than 50 governments, 150 companies, civil society, international organizations and experts work together to design and pilot innovative approaches to technology’s policy and governance. Teams at the centre are creating human-centred and agile systems. They are piloted by policy-makers and legislators worldwide, shaping the future of emerging technology in ways that maximize the benefits and minimize the risks.

Read the Global Technology Governance Report 2021: Harnessing Fourth Industrial Revolution Technologies in a COVID-19 World here.