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WEF announces Global Technology Governance Summit and flagship report
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 02 - 12 - 2020

The World Economic Forum on Wednesday 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 April 6-7, 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" said 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 behaviors. 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) and Mobility (including autonomous vehicles).
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, 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 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. — SG


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