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Former Member

Emerging technologies such as 3D printing and genetic engineering offer a lot of promise, but can also be double-edged swords. They can help make our lives easier, safer and healthier, but there is also potential to build weapons or dangerously modify organisms.

Developments like these raise questions for visionaries such as Nicholas Davis, Head of Society and Innovation, World Economic Forum.  Over the course of three previous industrial revolutions, work changed from manual to mechanical to automated mass production. We are now entering the fourth cycle, the world of cyber systems which is disrupting industry faster than ever before.

So it is essential to world peace and prosperity that global leaders address ethical issues surrounding technology, cultivate new norms and values worldwide and provide more opportunities for growth, writes Davis in his thought provoking essay on understanding the fourth industrial revolution.

That’s why the brightest minds from government, business and civil society meet annually to tackle big issues together in the collaborative Spirit of Davos.

The Future of the Internet

The World Economic Forum has been convening annually in the Swiss city for 45 years. Its mission is to improve the state of the world through public and private cooperation.

SAP has been a member of the Forum for years, proactively helping customers, organizations and individuals achieve the United Nations’ 17 Goals for a Sustainable Future with the help of technology. Hyper connectivity and the IoT, for example, are driving a new cycle of global economic activity focused on sustainable solutions that could end our dependence on fossil fuels. Technology can help us reduce waste and redesign production and consumption systems to be more resource efficient. And the Internet enables online learning, instant communication and a world of opportunity for sharing knowledge and best practices.

But there’s still plenty of work left to do in Davos.

The Challenge of Employment

As we change technology, it changes us! Machines and robots are taking over the work of humans so quickly that jobs are becoming obsolete much faster than we can create new ones. Technology is threatening jobs that we previously considered safe, such as taxi drivers and airplane pilots -- both in danger from self-driving vehicles. Drones are even delivering pizzas!

New products and processes will certainly lead to new growth, but change does not happen at the same pace everywhere. Technologically advanced societies will profit more while others will lag behind. It’s up to the attendees in Davos to ensure that everyone will have the right education and skills to benefit from these exciting developments.

Companies like SAP are helping to create solutions to these complex, difficult problems. Africa Code Week, for example, is an initiative for young Africans to learn programming skills so they thrive in the 21st century workforce. In the true Spirit of Davos, the program brings together public and private organizations in a continent wide effort to drive future prosperity.

Click here for more on how SAP is helping the U.N. meet its 17 goals.

Follow me on Twitter @magyarj

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