The future of people & work in the Fourth Industrial Revolution are central to the conversation at this year’s World Economic Forum. Taking place in Davos this week from January 21st-24th, the WEF features sessions, Q&As and talks from world leaders, CEOs, academics, musicians and many more who will look into the implications of technology and digital transformation on people, and how the labor market landscape has changed radically over the last decade.
Themed around ‘Society and the Future of Work,’ speakers will be discussing the ethics, purpose, and possibilities of tech and how this applies to the workforce as we move into an increasingly digital age. The WEF’s theme brings up a critical issue: in today’s world, in which “anyone with a mobile phone” can self-educate, participate in the gig economy, apply for a job, seek funding for a startup or communicate across continents, what questions do we need to be asking ourselves as leaders? What new skills do we require and how do we obtain them? How do we use technology - AI, robotics, brain-computer interfaces - ethically, transparently and responsibly? What form will digital disruption and dislocation take, and how can leaders help their people adapt?
These questions, and many others, will also be raised at the People Matters TechHR conference taking place in Singapore on February 19-21. Delving into the latest digital trends, cutting-edge solutions and the opportunities provided by technology, the People Matters TechHR 2020 conference brings together world leaders and industry experts and will exist in dynamic conversation with many of the discussions raised over the next few days at the WEF.
Here are the couple of sessions that stood out today from the context of People & Work:
In ‘The Future of the Corporation,’ Sir Paul Collier and Colin Mayer met to discuss leadership, autonomy and stakeholder capitalism, exploring the simplified ‘myth’ of the lazy and selfish “economic man” and how it applies to uniquely pro-social human nature and effective business purpose. This peer-to-peer session covered modes of authority and how “leadership through respect” can build “purpose beyond self” and a “forward-looking common purpose.” Colin Mayer looked at how we can shift the notion of capitalism away from mere profit and ownership, towards solving problems and instilling a sense of trust and responsibility. “Trust is one of the most important assets of a business,” Mayer said. “Trustworthy corporations are commercially-successful corporations.” In the Fourth Industrial Revolution and digital disruption, such shifts will not only be profitable and preferable, but essential.
Another highlight was the morning session ‘Shaping the Future of the Digital Economy’ in which industry leaders Marissa Mayer, Lauren Woodman, Börje Ekholm, Derek O'Halloran, Dan Schulman, Keith Block met to give a strategic overview of how the business landscape has been transformed by digital disruption and what the priorities should be in the coming decade. Among many issues discussed, the panel covered the possibility of transparency, trust, and ethics in the age of AI, automation and analytics. Investments in education, training initiatives, supporting not-for-profits and giving back to the community are just some of the ways these leaders are looking to leverage technology and bring about positive change for the people at the heart of the workforce. “Technology should be the great equalizer,” said Salesforce’s Co-Chief Executive, Keith Block.
The week is set to continue in a similar vein. Some particular highlights to look forward to include Wednesday’s session, ‘Humans Behind Machines,’ which will concentrate on how best to establish a better understanding of “digital assembly lines” and the labour policies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s shadow workforce. The second, ‘Social Mobility: Reskilling the Next Billion’ will see government ministers and policy-makers meet with leaders of industry and tech, discussing how to effectively deploy a 1 billion-person strong reskilling and upskilling revolution to negotiate the age of automation. On Thursday, ‘The Future of Mobility’ session will give a future-facing overview of transformative change as it relates to mobility. On Friday, the ‘Accounting for Human Capital’ will give a fascinating insight into how companies can better quantify the return on their “most important asset” - human talent. Finally in ‘When Humans Become Cyborgs,’ thought leaders, medics and professors of neuroscience will meet to consider the ethical application of brain-computer interfaces, and how to responsibly tread the line between man and machine.
At the intersection of business and economic progress is human progress, looking forward to a week full of learning, one more blog will be following soon by end of the week!