World Economic Forum

Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Watch video Highlights play icon

The projects of the Center want to inspire exchange and sharing of big ideas and insights.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Advancements in artificial intelligence and deep learning are fundamentally changing industries. And what it means to be human. New opportunities for the application of artificial intelligence across sectors range from medicine, to criminal justice, to manufacturing, to finance.

This project will bring together stakeholders to develop policy and governance frameworks that will be piloted by governments and other partners around the world. It's time to accelerate the social and economic benefits of these technologies and to address the uneven access to these benefits, as well as the many complex questions arising around bias, trust, and culpability.

Internet of Things and Connected Devices

Almost any object can become a data-generating "thing", that can process data, and increasingly, interact with their environment. Connected devices are driving transformation and disruption across industries, as well as raising new concerns about privacy, security, and interoperability. This project will bring together stakeholders to develop and pilot governance frameworks that aim to accelerate the opportunities presented by Internet of Things and address the associated challenges.

This project is linked to:

Shaping the Future of Digital Economy and Society

Digital Trade and Cross-Border Data Flows

This project will collaborate with different stakeholders to develop norms and principles for the treatment of cross-border data flows, with a focus on data localization practices and policies. The Center will be partnering with city, state, and national governments to pilot these frameworks, iterate on them based on lessons from on-the-ground implementation, and generate case studies and best practices that can be applied more broadly. Linked to the Forum’s System Initiatives on the Future of Digital Economy and Society and the Future of International Trade System and Investment.

Autonomous Vehicles

Self-driving cars are at a critical juncture in their development, operating on public roads and gaining more trust from citizens. Technology is rapidly advancing in crucial areas such as sensors, laser scanners, radar, GPS, image-processing, intelligent algorithms, and AI processing speed. But governments are struggling to keep up and enable the far-reaching benefits of this technology, ranging from reducing traffic and carbon emissions to increasing productivity and mobility options, while grappling with complex questions of safety and unintended social consequences.

This project will use insights from and build on the Forum’s partnership with the City of Boston on urban mobility. It's linked to:

Shaping the Future of Mobility

Civilian Use 
of Drones

The civilian use of unmanned aerial systems (UAVs) has eclipsed military use due to advancements in technology, platforms, availability, and affordability. This is challenging the response of both regulators and human rights groups. The increasing accessibility and flexibility of drones provides unique opportunities for a wide variety of commercial sectors, as well for humanitarian relief, agriculture, environmental and wildlife conservation, law enforcement, media coverage, and scientific research. Policy-makers have been forced to play “catch up,” with legislation sparse and uneven, but growing. This reality poses fresh challenges and opportunities to national governments, local municipalities, businesses, and individual actors.

This project is linked to:

Shaping the Future of Mobility

New Vision for the Ocean

This project will look at how the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) can improve the global environmental commons, with a particular focus on oceans. Leveraging the extensive West Coast oceans research and foundation community, it will suggest where further public-private cooperation can help advance the global oceans agenda through an innovative public-private Oceans Initiative to be housed at the Center.

In support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals summit on Oceans in June 2017, the project will focus initially on harnessing the 4IR to help governments, companies, and NGOs address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing -- and then broaden out into a more comprehensive platform on improving our oceans.

This project is linked to:

Shaping the Future of Environment and Natural Resource Security

Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology

Blockchain technology has the potential to transform a range of domains from financial and logistical to governmental and humanitarian. However, unlocking this potential will require engagement by regulatory and public policy voices. This project will seek to understand and advance the principles of good governance for new and replacement infrastructure built on distributed ledger technology.

By engaging regulatory, legal, technology, commercial, and domain experts, this project will consider the governance needs of a range of blockchain use cases. It will explore where existing governance mechanisms can be redeployed effectively and where whole new systems of governance must be developed. These efforts will surface high-priority blockchain governance needs that cut across multiple applications, allowing the World Economic Forum to drive impact by convening multi-stakeholder dialogues to develop protocols and frameworks to fill these gaps, and then pilot these products with partner governments.

This project is a cross-System Initiative project.

Precision Medicine

Precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in environment, lifestyle and genes for each person, to provide more targeted and customizable approaches to health care. Precision medicine has great potential to contribute to solutions for providing high value health care by improving outcomes while decreasing cost. The field of precision medicine is being driven by increased volume and quality of “omics” data, increased computational capacity, and sophisticated digital information platforms.

The Precision Medicine Project aims to create policy and governance frameworks that will be piloted by governments and other stakeholders around the world in order to shape the trajectory of how emerging technologies are integrated into more targeted health care delivery – from prevention, to diagnostics treatment, and cure (therapeutics)--so that they benefit society while minimizing the downside risks. The Project is initially scoped to tackle 1) the need for evidence generation of precision medicine’s effect, 2) accelerating data sharing and infrastructure needs, 3) integrating genomic and molecular data into clinical practice and research, 4) developing innovation-oriented reimbursement models and regulatory frameworks.

This projects is linked to:

Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare

Featured: Fourth Industrial Revolution View all Thin chevron