Ahead of event in Davos, World Economic Forum (WEF) says regulation needs to be balanced to maximise benefits and mitigate risks like job losses
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has warned that governments around the world will have to find the right level of regulation for emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence if the world is to maximise the benefits and mitigate the risks, especially with regards to jobs.
Ahead of the annual event in Davos, Switzerland, the WEF’s Global Risks Report suggested that technology could be a greater challenge to the global economy than the popularity of anti-establishment politics.
It cites 3D printing, advanced materials, AI and robotics, biotechnology, energy, blockchain, geoengineering, Internet of Things (IoT), neurotechnologies, advanced computing, new space tech and virtual and augmented realities as the most transformative innovations for the next decade.
The research noted that while new technologies had long been disruptive, the process of creating new jobs to replace ones destroyed was slowing. Last year, the WEF predicted automation could cost as many as 5.1 million jobs
“It is no coincidence that challenges to social cohesion and policy-makers’ legitimacy are coinciding with a highly disruptive phase of technological change,” said the report.
“We face a pressing governance challenge if we are to construct the rules, norms, standards, incentives, institutions and other mechanisms that are needed to shape the development and deployment of these technologies.
“How to govern fast-developing technologies is a complex question: regulating too heavily too quickly can hold back progress, but a lack of governance can exacerbate risks as well as creating unhelpful uncertainty for potential investors and innovators.”
The WEF said that while areas such as biotech are highly regulated, there was not enough oversight for areas like AI. It wants governments to consider the risks of moving decision making from humans to technology and to consider how cyberattacks, natural distasters and software glitches could affect the transition.
A number of figures have warned that automation could lead to significant job losses, while some have even suggested AI is a threat to the human race. The WEF warns against such a polarised debate urging compromise.
“How to govern fast-developing technologies is a complex question: regulating too heavily too quickly can hold back progress, but a lack of governance can exacerbate risks as well as creating unhelpful uncertainty for potential investors and innovators,” it said.