Our Impact

Our global network is preparing humanity for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

08 Sep 2017

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network is working with governments, technology experts, NGOs and leading companies around the world to enable emerging technologies to be used for the greater good.

The impact.

The World Economic Forum was the first to draw the world’s attention to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the current period of unprecedented change driven by rapid technological advances. Policies, norms and regulations have not been able to keep up with the pace of innovation, creating a growing need to fill this gap.

The Forum established the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network in 2017 to ensure that new and emerging technologies will help— not harm—humanity in the future. Headquartered in San Francisco, the network launched centres in China, India and Japan in 2018. The network further expanded its international footprint in 2019 with the announcement of locally-run Affiliate Centres in Colombia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

The global network is working closely with partners from government, business, academia and civil society to co-design and pilot agile frameworks for governing new and emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, data policy and internet of things (IoT).

What's the challenge?

AI discriminating against women and minorities. IoT-connected devices creating data privacy concerns. Self-driving cars causing fatalities.

We have all seen similar headlines before. The technological innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution have proven a double-edged sword. They bring enormous benefits to our daily lives, but also pose significant risks that are not yet fully understood.

Governance protocols – policies, norms, standards and incentives that influence technological development and deployment – are crucial for maximizing the benefits and limiting the dangers of new and emerging technologies. However, as governments struggle to keep up with the proliferation of technological advances, policies for governing these technologies have often been inconsistent and poorly coordinated. Some areas are heavily regulated, stifling innovation and research, while others are hardly touched, often leading to economic losses or even human fatalities with little or no repercussions.

In addition, companies are struggling to put in place their own internal policies or create industry-wide standards to stem quickly eroding public trust in the technologies they design and deploy.

All of this has created a strong need to bring together policy-makers, industry leaders, civil society voices and technology experts so that they can collaborate on designing policies that strike the right balance.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond

We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.

Read the full article by Klaus Schwab

Our approach.

In response to this need, the Forum launched the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network to co-design, test and disseminate flexible and pragmatic policy frameworks for governing new and emerging technologies. The centres throughout this global network provide a space where leading technology companies, start-ups, governments, international organizations, academia and civil society can work together to develop policy recommendations that minimize risk without stymieing innovation.

These practical policy frameworks can then be adopted by policy-makers, legislators, regulators and companies worldwide to maximize the benefits of emerging technologies.

The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network is pioneering creative governance approaches for emerging technologies that fall under one of its four Platforms:
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
- Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies
- Data Policy
- Internet of Things, Robotics and Smart Cities

How can you get involved?

We are looking for visionary leaders and innovators who want to join us in our mission to guide technological development in the interest of humanity.

We invite governments, companies and technology experts who want to learn more about our work to get in touch. Here's how:

Engage with the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network

Help us shape these Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies into a powerful force for good. Contact us with your interest in the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network.

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