Davos Agenda

Davos 2023: Eight ways technology will impact our lives in the future

The next generation will live a very different life to us, thanks to technology. Image: Pexels/ThisIsEngineering

Julie Masiga
Digital Editor, World Economic Forum
Natalie Marchant
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Davos Agenda

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

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  • Technology will be a vital tool for creating a cleaner, safer and more inclusive world, but what changes can we expect to see?
  • Panelists on the Technology for a More Resilient World session at Davos discussed future trends and developments in tech.
  • Be it the metaverse, smart glasses or large language models, the world as we know it may never be quite as we first imagined it.

Technology can be an important tool in the transition to a cleaner, safer and more inclusive world. But what strategic opportunities are there for technology to be an accelerator of progress and how is it likely to affect the next generation?

Leaders gathered on day two of Davos to talk about how technology and platforms will change the world, what tech trends and developments we’re likely to see, and even provide a glimpse into what our grandchildren can expect in future.

The Technology for a More Resilient World session featured Nicholas Thompson, CEO, The Atlantic; Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises; Arvind Krishna, Chairman and CEO, IBM Corporation; Julie Sweet, Chair and CEO, Accenture; and Cristiano Amon, President and CEO, Qualcomm Incorporated.

Here’s a selection of what they had to say:

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1. Technology is boosting productivity

Businesses are increasingly looking to digitally transform their operations amid an incredible demand for things to be more intelligent and connected, says Cristiano Amon, President and CEO of Qualcomm Incorporated. “I think technology right now, probably more than ever – especially when we talk about the current economic environment – we see that there is this desire of companies to digitally transform and use technology to become more efficient and more productive,” he said.

2. Glasses will overtake mobile phones

The future of computing will become virtual as computing platforms continue to evolve – just as it evolved from personal computers to mobile phones, says Amon. What we now know as the video call, particularly post-COVID, will soon become a holographic image in front of you seen through smart glasses.

The Technology for a More Resilient World session at Davos 2023.
The Technology for a More Resilient World session at Davos 2023. Image: World Economic Forum/Manuel Lopez

“The technology trend is the merging of physical and digital spaces. I think that’s going to be the next computing platform and eventually, it’s going to be as big as phones. We should think about that happening within the decade,” he adds.

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3. The rise of quantum computing

Quantum computing won’t replace classical computing but it will begin to solve problems in the physical world - materials, chemistry, encryption and optimization problems - within a few years, according to Arvind Krishna, Chairman and CEO, IBM Corporation. Indeed, quantum computing is already so good you may want to think about it now. “I would strongly urge everybody to invest in quantum-proof decryption now for any data, that you really, really care about,” he advises.

4. 5G will create lots more use cases

5G will create a lot of new use cases including drone management, robotic surgery and autonomous vehicles, says Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises. Industrial applications will particularly benefit due to their larger capacity. “In the meanwhile, people will get used to better connections, higher speeds, and lower latency for their regular devices as well,” he adds, before warning: “It’s going to cost a lot of money.”

5. ChatGPT-like tech will become the norm

Large language models will become a given because they lower the cost of artificial intelligence (AI) by allowing you to have multiple models over one base, giving you a speed advantage, says Krishna. “Beyond language is going to be a given, language because code can be a form of language and then you can go to, ‘what else can be a form of language?’ Legal documents, regulatory work etc,” he adds.

6. Great things will need good data

The recent excitement around ChatGPT has demonstrated the potential of having large amounts of data and the great things you do with it, but it has also highlighted the need for ‘good’ data, says Julie Sweet, Chair and CEO, Accenture. “We love what’s going on right now, with everyone talking about it. Because in many cases people have been doubters about why you need to have really clean data connecting to external data, use these then foundational models on specific use cases – a lot is going to be in digital manufacturing, in agriculture, industrial use cases – and it reminds everyone you have to get the data right.”

7. The metaverse is evolving very quickly

The metaverse is evolving faster than expected because it taps into human need while also creating something new, observes Sweet. “With human need, what we’ve discovered is that when you immerse yourself in an experience together, you learn better and you can also do things better,” she says. “We estimate there will be $1 trillion of revenue influenced by the metaverse by 2025.”

8. We will see a democratization of services

Our grandchildren will live in a very different world thanks to the democratization of products and services that are currently only available to the elite or wealthy, predicts Mittal. “Sitting like this, in the metaverse, you’ll probably have a few million people join from around the world, to experience what we’re experiencing today,” he says. “You’re going to see the benefit of technology really impacting people’s lives on a daily basis, and they will live a very different life to us.”

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