Last week, nine of us from the Business School embarked on a phenomenal experience that was truly inspirational. Away from the windy and rainy London, we were selected and had the opportunity to attend the World Government Summit 2017 – held in warm and pleasant (at least in February) Dubai.
The World Government Summit is an amazing initiative by HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum. It brings together prominent world leaders from public and private sectors, along with thought leaders and pioneers to engage in inspirational and thought-provoking dialogues with an aim to shape the future of governments and improve the well-being of citizens all around the world. This summit was a truly global platform for participants to learn and engage to understand the impact of exponential innovation on the future of governments and the role of society at large.
As the Summit focuses on understanding what the future holds, it ensures inviting ‘future leaders’, which is the students from the best technology-focused, political science and business schools in the world. Imperial being one of 13 participants from around the world, nine of us from the Business School were chosen to represent Imperial at the Summit. Sponsored by the Prime Minister’s Office of the UAE, we had the opportunity to learn from world leaders, attend leadership workshops and take part in a university challenge.
With a three-day agenda, the World Government Summit consisted of themes that would impact the current paradigm of the public and private sector, and which would shift the role of society in the future.
Professor Klaus Schwab
Professor Klaus Schwab, with his opening address, laid out 8 to 9 paradigm shifts that would shape the future governments. These formed the key themes surrounding the conference. There was a huge focus on the 4th industrial revolution with the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation, which would displace workforce requirements and government roles. Another aspect he focused on was the need for a human-centric government with a large importance of happiness and wellbeing of the citizen.
With happiness and wellbeing being at the heart of the conference, here were the key aspects that were focused upon that directly impact happiness and wellbeing of the countries:
Climate Change and Food Security
While UAE led the panels due to its excellent initiative of starting a Ministry of Happiness, Prime Minister of Bhutan HH Tshering Tobgay promoted key aspects like Food Security and Climate Change initiatives that must be integrated into the countries to achieve social wellbeing. The clear logic conveyed here is that if countries don’t initiate environmental sustainability, then climate change will have a further impact on crops and fields; adding to the food insecurity that currently exists, which will directly affect the health and wellbeing of citizens.
While issues were discussed and debated upon, the Government Summit’s Museum of the Future laid out solutions like ‘AutoFarms’ that would design climates and grow fruits and crops by entering soil and climate data.
AI & Automation
This was the most talked about theme in the entire conference. Thought leaders, technologists and world leaders – every one of them focused on this aspect that would transform the governments. Jim Yong Kim – President of the World Bank mentioned that while the role of governments will change due to AI and jobs will be displaced due to automation, education will be the most crucial aspect to transition people’s roles in society.
The two highlights of the entire summit for us, students with an entrepreneurial mindset, were the speeches and interviews by Elon Musk and Travis Kalenick.
The most near-term impact from a technological stand-point is autonomous cars, fully self-driving cars. While it is of a great convenience, there are many people whose job is to drive.
Elon Musk’s interview did not only appreciate the future of automation, driverless cars as well as AI playing a central role in governments, but he was one of the few to warn of the risks that come along with its integration as well. He was quick to mention the importance of security and regulations that would be required to operate AI ethically as well as the importance of ‘Universal Income’ due to job displacements in the economies. He mentioned how important it would be to ‘pay people to live’ as AI and automation could displace vast majority of jobs in the future as well as the importance of learning different skills in creativity, science and technology to sustain employment.
Travis Kalenic, CEO of Uber, in addition to Musk’s views was another entrepreneur who promoted driverless cars as the future of transport and also showcased how UberPool, in 7 months of its operation has saved over 56K cubic tons of Carbon Dioxide as well as over 6.2 million gallons of fuel.
Apart from these aspects, one of the most crucial trends that was touched upon was the emergence of populist ideologies and lack of trust in the traditional government by world leaders like HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum, Antonio Guterres (Sec. Gen of the UN), Joseph Stiglitz and Christine Lagarde (MD of IMF). Growing income inequality and the ‘need to be heard’ is something that is leading to these aspects, and according to these leaders, one of the most common forms of reform was keeping citizens’ wellbeing at the heart of the government.
Alongside the addresses, panels and workshops, we also worked together on “Shaping the Future” University Challenge and competed against top universities in the world to identify, analyse and present ‘How the Government of the Future would look like.” The addresses and panel discussions helped us a great deal to come up with a framework on integrating innovative technologies like Blockchain and AI, and human-centric government into one and thereby having a vision where every citizen is proud of the their governments (#beproudof).
Overall, this has been one of the most insightful experiences of my life, and I would like to thank the Prime Minister’s Office of the UAE and HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum for this amazing initiative and the invitation. Along with that, Omar Al-Ismail, an Imperial alumni, who made this invitation possible and helped us along the way. Last but not least, thank you Dr. Paolo Taticchi for guiding us along the challenge and the entire Imperial College Business School team, without whom it wouldn’t have been possible to create the presentation or enjoy Dubai as much.
Shyam is studying our MSc Strategic Marketing programme.