World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2010

  • Weak Signals

    Saturday 30th January 2010 - 2:00pm - 4:00pm

    Download PDF

  • Weak Signals

    Weak signals are defined as incipient and invisible changes of activity in a given area that are bound to have broader consequences in years to come.

    This highly interactive workshop explored the weak signals in the areas of society, business, economics and science, which are harbingers of sweeping changes

    Key Points


    • Weak signals are simply something that is beginning to happen and could one day become important
    • Although weak signals tend to be negative, many may lead to opportunity and positive trends

    Synopsis


    Weak signals are something that is beginning to happen and could lead to trends, and could have either a negative or positive impact.

    Whether one is a scientist, economist, politician or business leader, there are a number of weak signals to consider and think about:
    • Waves of immigration to the US have contributed to the US becoming a major powerhouse in research capacity; yet, new and restricting immigration policies may change that status
    • It is important to keep an eye on demographic changes: in the 1950s, five Western countries were among the 10 most populous countries; today, only the US remains on that list
    • Innovation is growing faster than most people can handle; it is not sustainable
    • There are implications for lawlessness in cyber space
    • There is an increasing alignment of corporations to cooperate with national security agencies
    • China’s economic rise may be more prickly than peaceful, leading to trade wars with the West and a Cold War with India
    • Although the communications revolution has been perceived by society as good, continued connectedness and interdependence could lead to serious negative implications
    • Do countries have the capabilities to respond to disasters as the world becomes more urbanized, such as the current situation in Haiti?
    • Concerns should be raised about children growing up in cyber space and how they communicate

    Weak signals are generally negative. But, once negative weak signals reach a crucial crisis point, they may create opportunities and take us as individuals or as a society to a better place.


    Discussion Leaders


    Tim Berners-Lee

    , Director, World Wide Web Consortium, and Professor of Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA; Global Agenda Council on the Future of the Internet

    Lee C. Bollinger

    , President, Columbia University, USA

    Ian Bremmer

    , President, Eurasia Group, USA; Young Global Leader; Global Agenda Council on Global Institutional Governance

    Charles Grant

    , Director, Centre for European Reform, United Kingdom; Global Agenda Council on the Future of the European Union

    Pablos Holman

    , Hacker, Intellectual Ventures Lab, USA

    Arianna Huffington

    , Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post, USA

    David Kirkpatrick

    , Senior Editor, Internet and Technology, Fortune Magazine, USA; Global Agenda Council on Innovation

    Jean-Pierre Lehmann

    , Professor of International Political Economy, Institute for Management Development International (IMD), Switzerland; Global Agenda Council on the Future of China

    John D. Negroponte

    , Vice-Chairman, McLarty Associates, USA

    Paul M. Romer

    , Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), USA; Global Agenda Council on Economic Growth & Development

    Nouriel Roubini

    , Chairman, Roubini Global Economics Monitor, USA; Global Agenda Council on the International Monetary System

    Ingrid Maryann Srinath Narasimhan

    , Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer, Civicus: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, South Africa

    Lynn St Amour

    , President and Chief Executive Officer, Internet Society (ISOC), Switzerland

    Geoffrey B. West

    , President and Distinguished Professor, Santa Fe Institute, USA

    Robert Zimmer

    , President, University of Chicago, USA

    Moderated by

    Moisés Naím

    , Editor-in-Chief, Foreign Policy Magazine, USA; Global Agenda Council on Illicit Trade


    Disclosures
    This summary was prepared by Mark Schulman. The views expressed are those of certain participants in the discussion and do not necessarily reflect the views of all participants or of the World Economic Forum.

    Copyright 2010 World Economic Forum
    No part of this material may be copied, photocopied or duplicated in any form by any means or redistributed without the prior written consent of the World Economic Forum.

    Saturday 30 January

    Keywords: signals, trends, change

    Recommended reading for: Thought Leaders, Young Global Leaders

Moderated by

  • Moisés Naím Moisés Naím
    Distinguished Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, USA

    MSc and PhD, MIT. Former: Minister of Trade and Industry of Venezuela; Director, Venezuela Central B...

Speakers

  • Ian Bremmer Ian Bremmer
    President, Eurasia Group, USA

    1994, PhD in Political Science, Stanford University. Founder, Eurasia Group, analysis focuses on glo...

  • Lynn St Amour Lynn St Amour

  • Nouriel Roubini Nouriel Roubini
    Professor of Economics and International Business, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University, USA

    Undergraduate degree, Bocconi Univ.; PhD in Economics, Harvard. 1998-2000, Senior Economist for Inte...

  • Geoffrey B. West Geoffrey B. West
    Distinguished Professor, Santa Fe Institute, USA

    1961, BA, Cambridge University; 1966, PhD, Stanford University. Theoretical physicist on elementary ...

  • Niall Ferguson Niall Ferguson
    Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History, Harvard University, USA

    Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History, Harvard University; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanf...

  • Charles Grant Charles Grant
    Director, Centre for European Reform, United Kingdom

    Studies in Modern History, Cambridge University. Formerly, with Euromoney, London. 1986-98, with The...

  • Arianna Huffington Arianna Huffington
    President and Editor-in-Chief, The Huffington Post Media Group, USA

    MA in Economics, Cambridge University. Nationally syndicated columnist and author; frequent broadcas...

  • Lee C. Bollinger Lee C. Bollinger
    President, Columbia University, USA

    Leading First Amendment scholar; has taught and written on freedom of speech and press for over 30 y...

  • Tim Berners-Lee Tim Berners-Lee
    Professor of Engineering, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), USA

    1976, degree in Physics, Queen's College, University of Oxford. 1989, invented World Wide Web. Profe...

  • Paul M. Romer Paul M. Romer
    Director, NYU Marron Institute, USA

    1983, PhD in Economics, University of Chicago. 1982-88, Assistant Professor, University of Rochester...

  • Robert Zimmer Robert Zimmer
    President, University of Chicago, USA

    Currently, President and Professor of Mathematics, University of Chicago. Chairman of the Board: Arg...

  • John Negroponte John Negroponte
    Vice-Chairman, McLarty Associates, USA

    BA, Yale. 1960-97, Member, US Foreign Service, Asia, Europe and Latin America; 1981-85, Amb. to Hond...

  • David Kirkpatrick David Kirkpatrick
    Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Techonomist, Techonomy Media, USA

    BA in English, Amherst College. Tech author and media entrepreneur. 1978, exhibited video art at MoM...

  • Pablos Holman Pablos Holman
    Hacker, Intellectual Ventures Lab, USA

    Futurist, hacker and inventor. Formerly, helped build: world's smallest PC, OQO; spaceships, Blue Or...

  • Jean-Pierre Lehmann Jean-Pierre Lehmann
    Professor Emeritus of International Political Economy, Institute for Management Development International (IMD), Switzerland

    1966, BSc in Int'l Affairs, Georgetown; 1970, PhD in Japanese Economic History, Oxford. Formerly, re...

  • Ingrid Srinath Narasimhan Ingrid Srinath Narasimhan
    Executive Director, Childline India Foundation, India

    BA, Elphinstone College; Mumbai; postgraduate degree in Management, IIM, Calcutta. Former: Manager a...