ai panel

What’s the most exciting headline you can invent for WEF?

Panel on AI
The panel on AI: pens and paper + “standing room only” (Photo: weforum

Watching the WEF’s closing-day discussion of the wide-ranging economic and social implications of computerized artificial intelligence on white-collar jobs, you might have found it ironic that three of the five panellists were taking notes with pen and paper. The other two were long-standing top-rank academics.

But that’s typical of the Davos meetings of the World Economic Forum, which came back to the Grisons resort in January 2023 after the COVID hiatus.

Journalists in particular seem mystified by the World Economic Forum itself — as if it should not exist but somehow flourishes impervious to their muckraking in a suburb of Geneva far away from the United Nations, with a stunning view of the much bigger international bureaucracies across the lake from its Cologny building.

World Economic Forum headquarters in Cologny (Photo: Alexey M., wikipedia)
World Economic Forum headquarters in Cologny (Photo: Alexey M., wikipedia)

So here are some of the headlines and commentaries I monitored this year at NuseReal.com during the intense 5 days of the Davos 2023 sessions.

Davos Has It All Again — Except the World’s Most Powerful Person (Bloomberg)

Greta Thunberg says Davos elite are prioritizing greed and short-term profits over people and the planet (CNBC)

Sustainable Forest Economy Challenge
Sustainable Forest Economy Challenge

Nature loss is an economic crisis — we need innovative solutions now (weforum) The first “Sustainable Forest Economy Challenge” was launched on 19 January at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting at Davos. The World Economic Forum estimates that over half of the world’s GDP, $44 trillion of economic value, is at moderate or severe risk due to nature loss. It has called for project submissions by 1 March 2023.

Elon Musk and a Tesla Model S, 2011 (Maurizio Pesce from Milan, Italy, wikipedia)
Elon Musk and a Tesla Model S, 2011 (Maurizio Pesce from Milan, Italy, wikipedia)

Elon Musk warns against World Economic Forum ‘world gov’t’ (American Military News)

Davos organizers: Elon Musk wasn’t invited despite what he says (ground.news)

Davos elites are in love with their crazy ideas (Fox News)

Twitter Files Journalist Outlines How Musk Is Countering the Leftist World Economic Forum Agenda: “The WEF is a leftist organization that promotes Orwellian initiatives, such as the “recalibration” of “free speech” online. The WEF is also the same radical organization that legitimized an insane idea of microchipping children.”

Liberals trash Kyrsten Sinema’s outfit at World Economic Forum: ‘Why is she dressed like a sheep?’ (Fox News)

Then there are stories like this:

Succession: HBO

‘Succession’ has nothing on Davos: Elite conclave mulls next leader (politico)

and

Mutiny erupts among WEF staff over role of ‘Mr Davos’ (Guardian)

How much of this is clickbait, designed to increase readership and sell media outlets to advertisers or their political sponsors, and how much is well-informed reporting?

Olena Zelenska (Photo at https://www.president.gov.ua)

Both those “Who and what comes next?” pieces came within a day of each other, and the Guardian piece appeared the day after Ukraine First Lady Olena Zelenskyy addressed the Forum in person.

Climate and Nature (Photo: weforum Sikarin Fon Thanachaiary)

That day, too, the Forum launched a “New Initiative to Help Unlock $3 Trillion Needed a Year for Climate and Nature”: Giving to Amplify Earth Action (GAEA) (LINK). But maybe that wasn’t considered worth the time of Guardian readers. Google the title to see how it was reported elsewhere and how little the Guardian offered. You can find the other headlines here.

Journalists at work during Davos. Usually conditions are much more comfortable (Photo: weforum Ciaran McCrickard)

I have had no privileged access to people inside the Forum or at Davos for over 10 years, so I can’t judge the accuracy of the reports. I didn’t flag the Guardian piece at first because it was not clear from the story how concerns about Schwab’s succession and the “group of nobodies” around him became a mutiny. According to a reported posting on LinkedIn, later taken down, a group of WEF staffers complained: “His managing board is such a viper’s nest that senior leadership will be at each other’s throats the moment the old man pops off.”

What makes WEF tick? Is it the photo opportunities? (Photo: weforum Sikarin Fon Thanachaiary)

For at least 40 years on my count, journalists have been obsessed with the internal workings of the Forum, reporting rumours and unsourced allegations, particularly among distinguished newspapers that you’d expect to do better.

Opening of the first Forum meeting in Davos, 1971 (Photo: weforumr

Wikipedia records: “The World Economic Forum and its annual meeting in Davos have received criticism over the years, including the organization’s corporate capture of global and democratic institutions, its institutional whitewashing initiatives, the public cost of security, the organization’s tax-exempt status, unclear decision processes and membership criteria, a lack of financial transparency, and the environmental footprint of its annual meetings. As a reaction to criticism within Swiss society, the Swiss federal government decided in February 2021 to reduce its annual contributions to the WEF. The WEF has also been the target of conspiracy theories.”

2020: The Great Reset

A virulent succession of criticisms followed Klaus Schwab’s writing in 2020 to argue for “a Great Reset” in the world’s social and economic arrangements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Great Reset project was co-launched by the now U.K. monarch King Charles. Schwab, with Thierry Malleret as co-author, published a 200+-page book on the ideas (LINK).

The onslaught of conspiracy theories alleged this was a plan by the global élite to control the rest of world, even creating the pandemic. As the BBC monitoring service reported: “In this narrative, lockdown restrictions were introduced not to curb the spread of the virus, but to deliberately bring about economic collapse and a socialist world government, albeit run for the benefit of powerful capitalists.”

This theory dated back to a posting on WEF’s website in 2016 when a Dutch activist spoke of the benefits of a society where all social needs were met by public services rather than accumulating private property. By 2020 this had become: “Klaus Schwab says — you will own nothing in 10 years — and you will be happy about it: Klaus Schwab is the new Karl Marx.”(LINK).

Even in September 2022 a senior WEF official could be seen still making public statements to debunk these ideas (LINK).

A young Davos group (Photo: weforum Greg Beadle)

As for the ‘mutiny’ story, nothing in the text suggested this was any more than common frustrations in small organizations with a powerful founder, and could have been said of the WEF in any of the 30 years I was closely associated with it.

Politico concedes: “Schwab has grown WEF’s $6,000 startup capital in 1971 into a $390 million a year business, turning a once sleepy [not true!] organization into the think tank world’s FIFA. Today, WEF’s annual meeting attracts more billionaires and CEOs than any other event on earth, and more political leaders than any gathering outside the United Nations General Assembly.”

Klaus and Hilde (Photo: weforum)

Schwab turns 85 at the end of March but the politico piece notes that Rupert Murdoch and Warren Buffet are still at the top of their huge and influential organizations.

The Guardian report said a group of WEFers, past and present, “questioned the ability of the organisation to function without Schwab at the helm.” The succession issue was picked up by the Alt-Right Breitbart site, among others.

In fact, few of these reporters seem to have any private access to Klaus. I spoke with him in 1999 about his history and ambitions for the organization when he agreed to an interview for a start-up magazine edited by a friend of mine that has since folded. I haven’t seen much since that got any closer to his personal (as distinct from his professorial) views.

Nelson Mandela and Klaus, Davos, 1999 (Photo: weforum)

This interview formed the basis of a Global-Geneva article I published in 2020(“Klaus Schwab: Geneva’s unlikeliest revolutionary“), and his views on economic and social development I covered in an earlier piece when he became the fourth person to receive Geneva’s most prestigious prize, the Geneva Acknowledges Award from the canton’s Enterprises Association: “International Geneva: Already a leader in the next Industrial Revolution.

In the interview he set out plainly what he was trying to do with the Forum. Schwab said: “Our job in Davos to a certain extent, if not to a large extent, is to confront business with the mirror of social expectation.”

Throughout its history, he has tried to make the Forum an arena for permanent consultation. This, he argues, will be the key to its survival after he is gone.

Watch the closing report presented by former Norwegian foreign minister, Børge Brende, who was brought into WEF as President and putative successor in 2017, to learn about the various actions agreed in Davos this year if you want to see how the Forum is living up to that vision.

The short video at the end of Brende’s 15-minute presentation, with highlights from the various speeches, uses only a couple of seconds from a Klaus speech at the end, and this is immediately faded out. Hardly what you might expect from the Wizard of DavOz picture painted by some critics.

And allegations of a rich boys’ club to control the world’s wealth don’t really match Schwab’s statements about what Davos represents.

Clinton, Schwab, Davos 2000 (Photo: weforum)

Schwab acknowledges that a media spotlight falls on the Davos meeting because of its billionaires, but points out: “They come to Davos for a few days to reflect on the fundamentals. And the fundamentals, I think, are not just the financial issues. The fundamentals are the social issues, the ethical issues, issues of the sense of life and of course all those issues that eventually affect the business climate such as cultural tensions and so on.”

This is in line with his championing of “stakeholder capitalism”, an idea he has promoted since at least 1971. A Forum publication covering the first 40 years of its history explains the idea further. It states that stakeholders “include the enterprise’s owners and shareholders, customers, suppliers, collaborators of any kind, as well as the government and society, including the communities in which the company operates or which may in any way be affected by it. Indeed, a broad range of actors in the national economy may in some way or another be counted among the stakeholders of any commercial organization.”

Idris Elba, Davos, 2023 (Photo: weforum Sikarin Fon Thanachaiary)

This has brought some unexpected panellists and activists to Davos, some championed by Klaus’s wife Hilde as head of their social entrepreneurship foundation which this year brought actor Idris Elba to the meeting.

“People like [Swiss environmental activist] Franz Weber, when I invited him to come to Davos at the end of the 1970s, he was looked on as the enemy,” Schwab told me. “Today business has evolved and executives consider representatives of Greenpeace as legitimate discussion partners with whom they don’t share always every idea but with whom they consider a dialogue necessary.”

What he did not tell me was that he was the youngest professor in the country when appointed to the University of Geneva in 1972, along with several other aspects of his history that would have reflected well on his reputation. But he did tell me Nelson Mandela and Shimon Peres, an Israeli leader who risked his career in the search for Middle East peace, were the politicians he most admired.

South African President F.W. de Klerk shakes hands at Davos with Nelson Mandela (Photo: weforum)

One frequent focus of critics is the Forum’s admittedly complex and somewhat obscure finances. The magazine Vanity Fair delved into the financial background in an article on 18 January 2002, but without claiming, as others have, that Klaus has up to $100m or even $2.7 billion from his business dealings associated in some way with his Forum connections. There’s no secret that the Forum gives him CHF1m a year for his activities on its behalf.

Often, though, the media accounts obscure the differences between Swiss and U.S. finance law. The Swiss government had no problems with the situation and recognized the Forum as an “international organization” in 2015.

Davos Congress Centre, the poster picture, not as it was in 2023.

In my 25 years of as a reporter, editor and consultant for Davos and some other Forum activities, I was put under no pressure to tailor the stories I edited to meet any pre-defined message. My instructions were simply to give participants the essential points to take home to their board members from any session.

The service later expanded to inform journalists about sessions they could not attend, but this was partly so that busy reporters could concentrate on other, exclusive stories being sure that they would be reliably informed of whatever was worth retaining from the panel discussions.

Another target for critics is that the Forum has long been a family business as well as a non-governmental organization. To quote wikipedia: “Schwab’s children Nicole and Olivier hold high-ranking positions in the organization, and his wife Hilde presides over a foundation and awards ceremony in Davos. WEF’s governing statutes give family members rights to board seats.”

This, too, obscures the truth. I know nothing of Olivier, but Hilde — Klaus declares — is his “social conscience”, bringing activist celebrities who devote much of their time to good causes — often in conflict with the profit principle — to Davos to put their message across to the money men.

His daughter Nicole, for her part, has been a lifelong campaign for gender equality, promoter of equitable Third World development and steers the 1t.org, the trillion-tree planting project supported by the Forum.

These are not simply sinecures.

Where’s the magic key? These people may have it: contacts, networking, information (Photo: weforum Sandra Blaser)

Journalists often write about the Forum as if there is a magic key which they have discovered to explain why the organization is so successful.

I think the answer is, it makes pure business sense to the participants, both from business, from academia and from the international organizations.

The billionaires can meet each other on the streets and around the coffee tables informally without any entourage, a rare opportunity these days. CHF120,000 might sound a lot to pay for a seat at the table, but if it leads to one business deal, you can have made the cost 100 times over. At the same time you can learn what the best minds are thinking about the future.

For the world’s intellectual élites it gives them an audience and opening to business that would be difficult to obtain elsewhere, and an opportunity to deliver messages business might otherwise not hear.

Ina Fried: White-collar workers: Is AI coming for your jobs? (Photo: weforum Boris Baldinger)

For example, in the AI session, Ina Fried of Axios recalled that many executives welcomed automation as making their companies more successful, then “all of a sudden, we realized AI is coming for our jobs”.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, Mihir Shukla, CEO of Automation Anywhere from San Jose, California, author of “How a digital workforce benefits businesses and workers” on the WEF website, took a more optimistic view.

When a mortgage lending worker can give you an answer in 3 minutes instead of 30 days, you can expand your operations exponentially, he pointed out. His company has 5,000 customers in over 90 countries and runs 100 million processes with AI. Growth is in double digits every month. “If you think AI is coming — it is already here.”

Mihir Shukla: “It is truly a watershed moment” (Photo: weforum Boris Baldinger)

As distinct from earlier AI, however, software bots can take care of processes that were too complicated and varied for earlier automation. “Anywhere from 15-70% of all the work we do in front of a computer can now be automated. It is truly a watershed moment that is happening.”

Shukla speaks of a “human-bot partnership” but the key in transitioning, he says, is re-skilling.

Are companies reducing their workforce? In mortgage lending, “you end up processing a lot more […] and you gain market share. This is about doing more. The other thing I would point out is that out of a hundred million processes, we estimate about 20% […] are the things we did never did before because it was not technologically possible or economically not viable. In another 3-4 years I estimate it will be 30-40%. That means 40% of the new things — new products, new services, better quality of service, better quality of life. We forget that technology is not about doing things better, cheaper, faster. It is about doing things we never did before.”

“I do not know of anyone who works up and says my mission is to process invoices,” he commented.

Erik Brynjolfsson: despite fears of job losses, unemployment in the U.S. is at record lows but we need “higher job quality” (Photo: weforum Boris Baldinger)

Erik Brynjolfsson from the Stanford Institute for Human-Centred AI (HAI) observed that despite the early hour of their discussion on the last day of WEF Davos 2023 “it is standing-room only here” as an indication of the importance business leaders give to the issue.

He noted that despite fears of job losses, unemployment in the U.S. is at record lows. AI, suggested Brynjolfsson, is affecting job quality and changing the way we carry out work. Stanford is now researching ways of “keeping the humans in the loop” and making work more fulfilling “and maybe gets rid of some of the boring routine work of filling out invoices or whatever and people can focus on some of the more interesting human-centric parts and connecting”.

The Stanford mathematician suggested it would be interesting to observe over the next decade whether society is able to create “higher job quality” instead of simply doing the same things more cheaply or driving down wages. “Either path is possible.”

Sir Martin Sorrell: “You will not be dependent as a client on a 25-year-old media planner or buyer who has limited experience.” (Photo: weforum Boris Baldinger)

Sir Martin Sorrell, founder of the world’s largest advertising and PR group WPP, commented that this affected mainly “blue collar” workers: “The real issue is how far this is going to go up the value chain.”

He agreed the impact would be felt in the creative businesses, where video and story ideas could be created by bots. “But it will be in the data and analytics and digital media side. It’s an $800 bn industry, the media industry, of which digital is currently two-thirds, predicted to go to three-quarters by 2025. So media planning and buying […] is an area which is very human-driven.”

When Google, Facebook (now Meta) and Amazon came on the scene, it was conventionally predicted that organizations like WPP would be driven out of business by them. “It didn’t happen. And the reason why is that Google’s business was not in employing people. Or Meta’s business was not in employing people. And they didn’t want to go into a service business because they were very labour-efficient and capital-intensive.”

The big change now, said Sir Martin, is that automation employed in media planning has made the area “very highly competitive area”. “It may take about five years [..] to seven years” for automation to break down the holding companies’ human advantage, he predicted. “You will not be dependent as a client on a 25-year-old media planner or buyer who has limited experience.”

Fried said she was concerned that though radiology was a field where a combination of humans and automation was thought to be very fruitful, it leaves open the question of where could we find radiologists with years of experience if machines take over most of the work.

Prof. Brynjolfsson said there is “a new division of labour that is emerging”. There are more radiologists today than when a famous analyist some five years suggested the world should stop training radiologists in favour of machines. “There are still important parts of that job that humans can do better.”

It is not just reading images. “There are 26 distinct tasks that a radiologist needs to do. I don’t think you want a robot to tell you whether or not you have cancer at the end of a diagnosis.”

They coordinate care with other physicians, and sometimes administer sedation, for example. “We looked at 950 occupations. We did not find a single one where machine learning ran the table and could do all of them.”

He added: “It does not mean that machines are going to mass-replace whole occupations. There’s a harder but more interesting task ahead of us, which is restructuring work, redesigning it.”

There will still be jobs for CEOs, HR managers and many others. “Historically that has always taken years, if not decades, to play through.” When electricity was introduced, it took about 30 years for it to achieve significant productivity benefits. “It required a reinvention of the factory, a reinvention of the office, to take full advantage of it. We are in a similar period now.”

But “I would not advise just blindly turning [generative ai] on and walking away. These systems have too many flaws, they don’t understand truth very well, they can hallucinate facts that aren’t really there. Certainly right now it would be just downright dangerous to use them without having a human in the loop.”

“Even going forward,” Brynjolfsson told the WEFers, “we are going to develop a new job: prompt engineering [ — only a few present had heard of it…]: when you work with one of these large language models, you can write different kinds of queries, and it turns out that depending on how you write the query, you get dramatically different results. Even the inventors of these technologies are surprised.”

Sir Martin protested that the suggestion is that the upper layers will be protected. Fried quipped: “GPT is a great CEO.” Sir Martin suggested: “The real question that we are all nervous about is how much of a replacement [occurs]”. Artificial general intelligence may not always create more employment.

Brynjolfsson asserted: “It’s still a ways off.” AI today offers “human-level or superhuman-level [performance] in certain specific categories in certain specific tasks.”

More often in history, technology has been a complement rather than substitution for human labour, “and has allowed a lot of people to do more, and new, things”. Substitutes tend to drive down wages. Complementary technologies tend to drive up wages. “Most of the tools we have invented, by and large, have been complements.” So over the past 200 years wages have increased 50fold.

Fried argued that most of the benefits have not gone to ordinary people. This has been true only of the past 20 years, Brynjolfsson said. “I think that is the grand challenge of the next decade,” he declared.

Lauren Woodman: I’m not sure I want a computer to tell me the results of my radiology scan for cancer, “but I also don’t know that I need a doctor to do it.” (Photo: weforum Boris Baldinger)

Lauren Woodman, CEO of NetHope*, said she spent a lot of time thinking about how ai could benefit non-profits on the ground. Process automation is largely a substitution, she suggested. “I worry that there is a commercial pressure to jump to those things very quickly, and […] exacerbates the inequalities that already exist.”

Though 83% of Americans are credit-worthy, only 45% currently have documentation complete to get a mortgage, she reported. “Without human intervention, we don’t create those opportunities for people.”

As for radiology, she did not want a computer to tell her the results of her scan, “but I also don’t know that I need a doctor to do it.”

Fried said that if machines are bad at telling us we have cancer, some doctors are also “pretty bad”. She suggested we need a new job title of “empathist” for people who are good at such tasks.

ChatGPT apologized to me

“ChatGPT apologized to me the other day,” Woodman reported. “I’m not saying that it’s developing empathy, but…”

“Emotional intelligence will become increasingly to the forefront, something that humans depend on other humans for,” predicted Brynjolfsson.

Shukla came back to the mortgage issue. The reason fewer people got mortgages than were credit-worthy was because these loans were only commercially viable. With AI you can double your market, and find out who is creditworthy. “It can create a more equitable society if you use the tools right.” During COVID his company created a bot that measured oxygen levels, saving 2 hours of nurses’ time every day. “I like to think it made a difference between life and death.”

We saved lives and an intern saved $200m in inventory costs

Similarly, an intern wrote an app to enable transfers of goods between warehouses for supplies during the COVID lockdown. “Before then it was just easier for you to order more [goods]. Now that was not an option. We saved $200m in inventory costs. This didn’t change anybody’s job. It is just more money to go around.”

Surprized at anything bots haven’t been good at? “Those are the human jobs, being able to connect the dots, empathy, care, nurture. I don’t know of an AI system that knows that the right questions are.”

What do Brynjolfsson and his colleagues worry about? asked Sir Martin Sorrell. “The ability of these tools to generate information and disinformation at scale,” the scientist replied. “If you set the price of generating disinformation at zero, the quantity tends to go to a very large number. We have to find a way to navigate that. We are going to have to come up with some control mechanisms to sort that out very shortly.”

He suggested that getting information to the right people is very important in society, and making sure this is not polarizing.

Are the Chinese leading the world in this field? Sir Martin asked. “The Chinese have very strong AI in lots of [aspects],” Brynjolfsson agreed. But often the fundamental steps were made in the United States but perfected in China and other countries.

Today this technology is in the hands of only a few companies, Fried pointed out, but this is likely to change. One company may act responsibly, but another not with open source technology.

What do we do with no population growth?

Shukla observed that all societies today were based on growth, either through productivity increases or population growth. “I think everyone at WEF has been talking about [the fact that] there is no more population growth, and not for the next 20 years. That means for the next 20 years we have to double the productivity. Does anybody have an idea how to double the productivity [of digital technologies]? If not there is just enough to go around in society of social security and health care. None of that works without growth.”

Asked from the audience how to maximize white-collar work with AI, Shukla answered: “I think 95% of all jobs, current jobs, the future is human beings and AI-powered bot working side by side…my digital co-worker. Just like we all work with computers.”

Another medical consultant suggested that ai-users become complacent or demoralized after the first enthusiasm. Fried commented that if a auto-driving computer can only handle 95% of the job, this is dangerous.

Bots work well when humans are in charge

Brynjolfsson agreed with these points but pointed out that Google had tried to work with a safety driver who began to nod off when the vehicle was auto-driven so that a second safety driver had to watch the first one. “This is not the path toward driverless cars.”

“The driverless car took two drivers,” Fried noted. You could also see my article about Sion’s driverless buses with two controllers on board. The experiment was suspended for two weeks to allow reprogramming when the program failed to recognize an open door on a delivery truck because it lifted up rather than opened from the side.

Shukla’s experience was different. He took a nine hours trip on a driverless car with a companion. “It actually worked out fantastic. There were two levels of redundancy and I was able to pay more attention to conversation and the music that was playing. The quality of the consversation was better as a result. If you don’t have anybody to talk to that’s a different problem.”

Brynjolfsson added that you could flip the system around, as Toyota is doing, and use the autonomous system as “a guardian angel”: “if the human’s about to crash it intervenes.” Cresta, a call-centre business, keeps the human at the front but uses its AI to offer suggestions to the call handler.

Customer satisfaction and productivity increased for the least experienced workers

When his Institute tested human-led bot vs humans vs machines in call handling, the human-led bot system “did dramatically better in terms of productivity, customer satisfaction, and interestingly it closed a lot of the wage and skill gap as well: the workers who benefited the most were actually the less experienced, less educated workers they got the biggest boost in their productivity.”

Another questioner asked how to train humans to take advantage of this new way of relating to ‘customers’ of all kinds.

ChatGPT’s ideas ‘weren’t that bad’

Woodman said that ChatGPT had come up with ideas “that weren’t that bad” when she asked it how to handle an ebola outbreak — several were consistent with what her organization did in 2015. “What they missed was the connection to community resources, how people felt, those types of things.”

Shukla said the session should not close without mentioning the 3bn people who did not have access to the Internet or acces to the digital economy. Last year Automation Anywhere ran 2.5m training courses, including for women in Africa, in poor parts of Mississippi, in India and various parts of the world.

From flipping burgers to $100k

“In three months about 85% of them went from […] flipping burgers to $150k jobs in AI and automation. This is what human beings are capable of. Talent is evenly distributed. Opportunity is not. The role of technology is to make that possible.”

‘Do more and better than ever before’

Brynjolfsson concluded we should not be hiding from ChatGPT “but embrace it and do more and better art than we have ever done before”. Stanford has a work2vec project that maps skills needs according to 200 million online job postings, and most important — what skills are closest to each other, giving a roadmap to companies for hiring and reskilling. “This is something that used to be done by gut-feel. It’s a new frontier that we can use to map our path for taking advantage of what these tools can do.”

“We actually did that in our company,” said Shukla. “We obviously drink our own champagne. We used a bot to create an individual career development plan for 2,000 employees.” But usually, “there is usually not enough time in business to do that.”

“Think how many people are not in the right job and they are living lives of quiet desperation,” commented Brynjolfsson. “They probably have some capabilities that could fulfil them much better but they are not being matched to it because there is not the infrastructure to put them in place. I think that’s the real value — is getting people to live up to their potential.”

Does that sound like a plan for the global élite to rule the world?

* Nethope, based in Seattle, is “an organization charged with transferring hardware, software, research, and best-practices from the tech community to the largest international humanitarian organizations in the world. Whether it’s getting connectivity equipment to West Africa during the Ebola crises or leveraging Silicon Valley expertise to help maximize the impact of NGO members, Lauren spends her days tackling the toughest development and conservation challenges alongside the world’s leading international NGOs.”

— By the way, the GPT in ChatGPT stands for “Generative Pre-training Transformer,” a reference to how the system processes language.

Further links

WEF: How the global media covered Davos 2023: a record number of mentions from influential global media on the core topics of debate in Davos and the announcements and updates on key impact initiatives. 25 January 2023. (LINK)

Debates at Davos: The biggest stories from the World Economic Forum meet: Ukraine War, energy and food crises, climate crisis, globalisation, inflation, global economy, supply chain crisis, and cybersecurity were among the topics that dominated the five days of debate at the WEF 2023 in Davos (LINK)

— Ahead of the WEF’s Annual Meeting, the Global Risks Report 2023 highlighted serious risks we might encounter during the next 10 years. While the report said cost of living will be the main global danger in the next two years, the next ten years will be dominated by climate action failure.

— The Crystal Awards marked the opening of the WEF 2023 recognized four cultural leaders who have worked in areas of environmental preservation, food security, combating climate change, mental health awareness, and education.

— Chief Economists Outlook: A global recession is anticipated by two-thirds of those polled, with 18% of respondents saying it is quite likely.

— “Open Forum: In Harmony with Nature” emphasised the importance of changing organisational practices and highlighted existing lifestyles in order to restore the planet’s health and safeguard the welfare of the present and future generations.

— Amplify Earth Action (GAEA), a new programme, stressed they will employ charitable resources to assist raise the funds required annually to combat climate change and the destruction of nature.

— The WEF unveiled its Global Collaboration Village, a new metaverse platform designed to promote multi-stakeholder collaboration. This purpose-driven metaverse brings people together to learn, explore solutions, and take action on the most serious problems facing the globe, has attracted 80 organisations as Village Partners.

— As part of a reskilling revolution, the Forum claimed it is collaborating with numerous partners to offer 1 billion people skills and job prospects by 2030.

Devex’s take on the meeting

Davos done and dusted: how did it do? — devex — 20 January 2023 (LINK)

— Billionaires Bill Gates and George Soros weren’t there, neither was U.S. President Joe Biden. But film director Oliver Stone was, and so was former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who provided some doomsday scenarios to cheer us up.

— Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University — someone not easily impressed when it comes to pledges to protect the planet (the launch of a Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate) — dubbed it a “really important day for climate action.”

—Our Vince Chadwick did his best to stake out climate activist Greta Thunberg’s movements for a quick question — unfortunately, about two dozen reporters from around the world had the same idea. The Swede was having none of it, and we’re told she slipped out a side exit, leaving a frostbitten press pack staring at the front door.

—Our colleague Jenny Lei Ravelo spoke to former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark during our Twitter Spaces event about how pandemic preparedness is being addressed, or not, during Davos. She didn’t mince her words. “It’s there. But of course, it’s also the place where the companies are making their PR announcements,” she said. “People are putting their spin on their announcements, but basically, you know, you’re not going to get out of the major corporates a desire for any systemic change, because, hey, they’re creaming it from the way things have happened, right?”

— what did Vince make of his first Davos? “On the one hand, the stereotypes seem to hold true,” he tells me. “There are decadent parties, executives spouting vacuous talking points about sustainability, and behind it all the mysterious World Economic Forum. Still, every global development leader I spoke to was glad they came. The easy access to top-level corporate and government leaders is hard to replicate elsewhere, even at the United Nations. But the question for journalists and development practitioners alike is whether, by their sheer presence, they are legitimizing a gathering which could not be more removed from the constituencies they’re meant to serve. Each year, it seems they ask themselves the question. And each year they come back.”

What a Digital Worker Could Mean for the Human Workforce — discovermagazine.com — 21 January 2023 (LINK): Research shows that in many European countries and the U.S., the growth of information and computerized technologies was accompanied by a significant expansion of professional and managerial occupations and a decline of low-skilled jobs.

What is new in ChatGPT pro? Features and pricing explained — sportskeeda — 22 January 2023 (LINK)

ChatGPT and AI: headlines about the issues, from nusereal.com (LINK)

WEF Davos 2023 headlines from nusereal.com, as before (LINK)

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