World Economic Forum 2016 report: doom, gloom...and technology

Published January 19th, 2016 - 02:30 GMT

The world is in danger of “sleep walking into widespread chaos or a major war”, says the Security Outlook 2030 chapter of the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risks report.

Published in time for this year’s Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the report takes a very critical look at poor current global governance and the lack of leadership at both national and global levels.

It identifies the greatest threat to security as the strategic competition between strong states coupled with the failure of weak states, which along with the effects of climate change has the potential to profoundly change the international security landscape.

The weakness of some states has left vacuums that are being filled by armed non-state organisations which include violent extremist groups like Daesh as well as organised criminal gangs.

The report also predicts over the next 15 years greater competition for resources such as water and land due to climate change, pointing out that this will be happening as warfare will be transformed by new technologies including autonomous weapons, 3D printed weaponry and genetically engineered biological weapons.

But despite this frightening outlook, the main theme of the Annual Meeting will be the impact of what the World Economic Forum is calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is the impact of the new technologies across the physical, digital and biological world creating whole new capabilities with dramatic impacts on political, social and economic systems.

“The speed, scale and systemic nature of this transformation has the potential to disrupt all sectors and call into questions the essence of human nature and identity. The Annual Meeting is to build a shared understanding of this change which is essential if w are to share our collective future in a way that reflect ultimately that the human being should be at the centre,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

But in addition to these long term changes, the World Economic Forum has identified that the fourth industrial revolution will combine with other socioeconomic and demographic changes to transform labour markets leading to a net loss of over 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies over the next five years.

Its report, The Future of Jobs, was published on Monday and is based on a survey of human resources officers and top strategy executives from companies across nine broad industry categories and covering 15 of the world’s largest economies, which are Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the Asean and GCC groups. Together, these economies account for 65 per cent of the global workforce.

The business response to this dramatic change from the executives surveyed is that they believe that investing in skills, rather than hiring more short-term or virtual workers, is the key to successfully managing disruptions to the labour market for the long term.

By Francis Matthew



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