From the Guardian’s Graeme Wearden: Donald Trump’s US election victory and the UK’s vote to leave the European Union will cast a long shadow over the global elite’s annual gathering in the Swiss ski resort of Davos this week.
This year, 3,000 politicians, business leaders, economists, entrepreneurs, charity leaders and celebrities will head to the World Economic Forum (WEF) to discuss the state of the world. As usual there’ll be big speeches, ultra-tight security, and experts in every field under the wintry sun. There’ll also be plenty of champagne and canapes for delegates gathering in expensive hotels to discuss issues such as inequality and the backlash against globalisation.
But this year’s WEF won’t be the same. Twelve months of seismic shocks have shaken Davos Man and Woman’s world view, and left them struggling to understand and address the new reality. These seven key themes will dominate this year’s meeting:
The “fourth industrial revolution” will once again be a key theme at this year’s Davos, where the focus will be on the problems created by technologies such as smart robots and driverless cars. The WEF will examine whether the loss to these innovations of millions of jobs is undermining social cohesion and contributing to the rise of populist parties.
Davos will also consider whether increased use of artificial intelligence and the “internet of things” are laying firms open to a new wave of cyberthreats and security beaches. This area of technology has until now been only lightly regulated; is the world ready to hand more decision-making powers to machines?
Delegates will also ponder the dangers posed by “weaponised” AI systems and smart robots. The WEF warns that autonomous weapons systems could be designed to “swarm” over a nation’s existing military defences, overwhelming them in a massive coordinated attack.
“This risks upsetting the global equilibrium by neutralising the defence systems on which it is founded,” it goes on. “This would lead to a very unstable international configuration, encouraging escalation and arms races and the replacement of deterrence by pre-emption.”