'Artificial Intelligence as a Driving Force for the Economy and Society' is a key theme at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting.
Artificial Intelligence

AI - artificial intelligence - at Davos 2024: What to know

Deep dive

'Artificial Intelligence as a Driving Force for the Economy and Society' is a key theme at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting. Image: Unsplash/Damian Markutt

Robin Pomeroy
Podcast Editor, World Economic Forum
Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • 'Artificial Intelligence as a Driving Force for the Economy and Society' is a key theme at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting.
  • Advances in technology have the potential to help us solve global challenges, but innovation and guardrails are essential.
  • Read about some of the key sessions, reports and initiatives at Davos 2024 on AI, innovation and technology.
  • Check back here for regular updates throughout the week and use the navigation bar on the right to catch up on what you've missed.

If you’d never considered artificial intelligence's impact on your life, 2023 was probably the year that changed that.

From jobs to skills, and regulations and governance, AI permeated conversations like never before.

The impact it will have on jobs is on the radar of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which has just released its Staff Discussion Note Gen-AI: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work.

It finds almost 40% of employment globally is exposed to AI, which rises to 60% in advanced economies. Among workers, those that are college-educated and women are more exposed to AI, but also more likely to reap the benefits, while strong productivity gains could boost growth and wages.

Countries around the world have been exploring regulation and governance around AI, including the European Union, where a draft deal on AI rules was agreed in December.

We also held our own AI Governance Summit, in response to rising concerns about the technology’s impact, released a set of recommendations, and explored the impact of AI and large language models on jobs.

As we look ahead to 2024 at Davos, AI as a driving force is one of our four key themes. Below, we’ll keep you up to date on what to watch, read and look out for.

Live updates on key AI sessions

Dive into the key quotes, tweets and YouTube clips from Davos sessions on AI.

What to know from Day 2

Speakers from government and business discussed the implications of generative AI following its rapid emergence in 2023, and how we can manage the risks.

But there was also a strong focus on how much it could boost productivity and its possible applications, with Senator Mike Rounds, from South Dakota, US, believing it can transform healthcare.

Business leaders discussed how to ensure the benefits of AI outweigh the risks in fin-tech.

Gen AI is advancing rapidly, but what is the latest research and development in the field and what future opportunities will the technology offer?

"AI can solve really hard, aspirational problems, that people maybe are not capable of solving" such as health, agriculture and climate change, said Daphne Koller, Founder and CEO at Insitro Inc.

"We're not done with scaling [LLMs], we still need to push up," said Aiden Gomez, Co-founder and CEO of Cohere Inc.

Agenda

Microsoft’s CEO on AI and limiting ‘unintended consequences’

The Forum's Founder and Executive Chairman, Klaus Schwab had his annual fireside with the Microsoft CEO, which touched on balancing the risks and "unintended consequences" against the benefits of generative AI.

“The biggest lesson of history is… not to be so much in awe of some technology that we sort of feel that we cannot control it, we cannot use it for the betterment of our people.”

Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

We need to bridge the gap between AI's potential and its practical application. How can we ensure equal access to the technology?

"AI will not rescue the SDGs," said Amandeep Singh Gill, the UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology.

Rwanda's Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, said AI was more of an opportunity than a challenge for the Global South but digital literacy and the cost of devices need to be addressed.

What to know from Day 3

Much of the potential of AI hinges on its use in the workplace. This session brought together the chief executives of Deloitte, Sanofi, L'Oréal, and Exponential View, to explore the most likely scenarios for jobs and productivity.

Job function groups with the highest exposure (auotmation and augmention)
Emerging technology has the potential to have a significant impact on jobs. Image: World Economic Forum

Microsoft President Brad Smith joined Arati Prabhakar, the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Vera Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency at the European Commission, and Josephine Teo, Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information, to discuss the future of AI governance.

There are diverse approaches to regulating AI, from the US, EU and multi-nationally to date, but Brad Smith said he expects more convergence in the future.

"We won't have a world without divergence, but people actually care about a lot of the same things and actually have similar approaches to addressing them."

Jourová said AI promises "a lot of fantastic benefits for people".

The regulation is the precondition to cover the risks, but the rest remains to be free for creativity and positive thinking - and in Europe we are well placed.

Vera Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, European Commission

Philosopher Michael Sandel explored the ethical questions AI poses, beyond jobs, fairness, privacy and democracy to whether technology would affect what it means to be human.

If we can digitally de-age the actor Harrison Ford in the latest Indiana Jones movie, it is OK to bring back actors such as Humphrey Bogart from the dead?

Sandel showed the audience a video interview of him and director and actor Michael B Jordan discussing casting deceased actors.

It boiled down, he said, to a deep human value of authenticity and presence.

He concluded: "Will new technologies lead us, or are they already leading us and our children to confuse virtual communities and human connection for the real thing? Because if they do, then we may lose something precious about what it means to be human."

What to know from Day 4

AI has the potential to change education and the way we learn. Emilija Stojmenova Duh, Slovenia's Minister of Digital Transformation, joined UAE Minister of Education, Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, Hadi Partovi, Founder and CEO, Code.org, and Jeffrey Tarr, CEO of Skillsoft to explore how we can adapt and adjust to take advantage.

Partovi said when people think about job losses due to AI, the risk isn't people losing their job to AI.

"It's losing their job to somebody else who knows how to use AI. That is going to be a much greater displacement. It's not that the worker gets replaced by just a robot or a machine in most cases, especially for desk jobs, it's that some better educated or more modernly educated worker can do that job because they can be twice as productive or three times as productive."

The imperative is to teach how AI tools work to every citizen, and especially to our young people.

Hadi Partovi, Founder and CEO, Code.org

Generative AI presents a future where creativity and technology are more closely linked than ever before.

Neal Mohan, Chief Executive Officer of YouTube, joined Daren Tang, Director-General, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Almar Latour, CEO; Publisher, Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, and Contemporary Artist, Krista Kim, to explore whether prompts should be copyrighted and how we distinguish what is made by humans from machines.

We need to bring all these actors together to talk and share best practice. We will need some sort of interoperability - that's where the world is heading.

Daren Tang, Director-General, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

As technology plays an ever bigger role in our daily lives, questions of safety, trust and human interaction become increasingly important.

In a key and highly anticipated Davos session, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman joined Marc Benioff, Chair and CEO of Salesforce, Julie Sweet, Chair and CEO of Accenture, Jeremy Hunt, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer and Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, to discuss these issues.

From diplomacy to defence, AI is markedly changing geopolitics. Shifts in data ownership and infrastructure will transform some stakeholders while elevating others, reshaping sovereignty and influence.

Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach of Ireland, Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karoline Edtstadler, Austria's Federal Minister for the EU and Constitution, Nick Clegg, President of Global Affairs at Meta Platforms and Mustafa Suleyman, Co-Founder and CEO, Inflection AI, explore how the landscape is evolving and what it means for the existing international architecture.

Clegg highlighted the importance of the political, societal and ethical debate happening "in parallel" as the technology is evolving.

Varadkar said AI had huge potential benefits for the future.

As a technology, I think it is going to be transformative. I think it's going to change our world as much as the internet has - and maybe even the printing press.

Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach of Ireland
Current risk landscape
The latest Global Risks Report highlighted some of the risks associated with AI. Image: World Economic Forum

Reports to read on AI and technology

The latest Global Cybersecurity Outlook warns about the threat to cyber resilient from emerging technologies, such as generative AI.

This whitepaper explores the impact of machine learning on manufacturing through the lens of the Global Lighthouse Network’s 153 Lighthouses.

How can businesses respond to the changes brought about by large language models on jobs? This white paper, produced in collaboration with Accenture, offers a toolkit for businesses to help their workforces reskill, adapt and take advantage of the potential of the technology.

AI Governance Alliance: Briefing Paper Series

Technology is evolving rapidly, and companies, particularly in the manufacturing sector must master the art of introducing emerging technologies to the shop floor. This report, a collaboration with University of Cambridge and constituent members of the Manufacturing Workers of the Future initiative, looks at how technology can be integrated in a long-term, sustainable, human-centric and effective way.

How can generative AI help improve healthcare? This whitepaper explores six case studies where companies and institutions are making the promise a reality.

Initiatives and events to know about

AI Governance Alliance

The AI Governance Alliance brings together leaders from across industry, government, academia and civil society to champion responsible global design and release of transparent and inclusive AI systems.

Innovator Communities

The Forum’s Innovator Communities exist to establish relationships with the world’s leading start-ups, some of which will be tomorrow’s big players, and to engage them in the Forum’s work, sharing their insights and, importantly, solutions to global issues we're all facing. The community is comprised of 3 sub-networks: Technology Pioneers; Global Innovators; and Unicorns.

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Artificial IntelligenceDavos Agenda
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Contents
Live updates on key AI sessionsWhat to know from Day 2What to know from Day 3 What to know from Day 4 Reports to read on AI and technologyInitiatives and events to know about

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