The world’s leading politicians, entrepreneurs and scientists have recognized the huge social significance of the future world of work.
This recently became clear again at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, which centered on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As the future world of work and the associated changes have long been a topic of my own special interest, this year’s WEF was particularly exciting for me.
A global challenge
At the end of January, a small Swiss town in the canton of Graubünden was once again at the center of global attention. As every year, key opinion leaders from the worlds of business, science and politics gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos in order to discuss global developments that will lead to sustainable changes in our world in the foreseeable future.
This year, the focus in Davos was on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. What will be the political, economic and social impacts of the future world of work? And how can we shape digital transformation to the benefit of all? The fact that these topics were right at the top of the agenda underscores once again the cross-industry and global character of the future world of work.
Digitalization is penetrating more and more areas of our lives. Moreover, climate change, terrorism, Brexit, flaring nationalism and trade wars are putting our liberal world order under massive pressure. Therefore, there were plenty of topics to discuss in Davos again this year.
Keeping a sense of proportion with progress
Due to the irreversibility of technological progress, it is crucial that we keep a sense of proportion when shaping trends such as digitalization, urbanization and the future world of work – and do not work against them. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke, for instance, about the necessity to reform education systems in order to help young people develop the skills they need in the new digital world of work. I consider digital education and lifelong learning as some of the key levers to put human beings and not machines at the focus in the future too.
At the same time, we must avoid blind actionism. Neither loner approaches nor blanket solutions function in a globalized world. New technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, 5G and Big Data do not stop at national borders. Owing to their high complexity, making too free a use of these technologies could have inestimable consequences for mankind. At a joint event, top executives from Amazon, Accenture and Ericsson, among others, spoke about the immense advantages of 5G technology, which is an important foundation for self-driving cars and the smart factory. The discussion became more serious, however, when it came to the difficult issues of data protection and privacy, which must also be heeded within the context of 5G.
Optimistic about the future
The challenges are enormous, the issues complex. Consequently, a newspaper article referred to this year’s World Economic Forum as a “world festival of concerns”. However, just as our CEO Stefan Oschmann, I am optimistic about the future. There are already enough intelligent approaches today that show how we can utilize digital transformation to the benefit of all.