World Economic Forum

Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

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The Center is co-designing and piloting policy frameworks and governance protocols across nine areas of focus.

Accelerating Innovation in Production for Small and Medium Enterprises

Technology is revolutionizing the full chain of production activities to “source-make-deliver-consume-reintegrate” products, from origination of inputs, product design, manufacturing and distribution to customer/consumer use and circular economy/return/reuse.

In a first phase of work we explored how five major technologies will shape the future of production, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, additive manufacturing, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) and the internet of things (IoT). A key question is how leaders can best ensure the diffusion of these technologies to small and medium enterprises and thereby drive the future innovation capacity of nations.

Our workstream, based at the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, will convene diverse stakeholders to develop and pilot new governance frameworks and tools, as well as public-private partnerships that will accelerate the adoption of these new technologies for small and medium enterprises.

This project is linked to:

Shaping the Future of Production

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.

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

Blockchain (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.

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.

The Future of Drones and Tomorrow’s Airspace

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

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

A 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

Precision Medicine

Precision medicine is an approach to disease treatment that takes into account the variability in individuals’ environments, lifestyles and genes, allowing for more targeted and customized healthcare. Precision medicine is powered by increasing volume and quality of genetic and other biological data, increased computational capacity and sophisticated digital information platforms.

The Precision Medicine programme aims to create policy and governance frameworks that help to realize precision medicine’s potential to achieve better healthcare outcomes while reducing risks. Areas of focus for pilot projects could include:

- Generating evidence of precision medicine’s effectiveness
- Data-sharing and related infrastructure
- Integrating a precision medicine approach into clinical practice
- New approaches to regulation, pricing and reimbursement for diagnostics and treatment
- Patient and public engagement

This projects is linked to:

Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare

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