With many panels centered around the theme of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the World Economic Forum brought together leaders from government, business, and academia to discuss how digital technology (such as automation) will affect economic security for people around the world. In an article discussing the potential of intelligent cities as a mitigation for existing and future resource disparities, Frérot presents the argument that “digital technology provides solutions”, but that it will require active cooperation and depend “on the social support that is provided [and] on the policy choices made” (Frérot, 2017). The argument here is that while technological advancements have created inequality, that same technology can empower communities to create policy that is more inclusive, that the “information [technology gives us] becomes knowledge, and knowledge becomes the power to act more and to be more useful” (Frérot, 2017).
Writing about Davos in The New York Times, Goodman argues that it will take movement on behalf of the business community and governments to make the tough decisions that can create an environment that reduces economic inequality. He observes that “solutions that have currency [at Davos] seem calculated to spare corporations and the wealthiest people from having to make any sacrifices at all” while expecting the middle and working class to adapt their skills readily for the automated future (Goodman, 2017). Policy makers will need manage “the digital transition” to protect the most economically vulnerable and “supplement digital innovation with social innovation” to really bring to fruition the benefits promised by intelligent cities (Frérot, 2017).
Frérot, A. (2017, January 18). Intelligent cities, inclusive cities? Retrieved January 21, 2017, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/01/intelligent-cities-inclusive-cities/
Goodman, P. S. (2017, January 19). Amid Populist Fury, Elite Mull Inequity, but Avoid Talk of Sacrifice. The New York Times, pp. B1-B4.