World Economic Forum Opens Tech-Focused San Francisco Office

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution is intended to help guide public policy and regulation in the face of ever more rapid technological change

The World Economic Forum, which organises the annual Davos meeting of international leaders, has opened an office in San Francisco to focus on policy and regulatory issues surrounding new technologies such as artificial intelligence, drones, digital currencies and the Internet of Things.

The office is named the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in reference to the overarching theme of the most recent Davos gathering in January, and aims to promote collaboration between businesses, investors, regulators, policy-makers, international organisations and academia.


Technology and business

Former Silicon Valley entrepreneur Murat Sonmez is to lead the centre, which is to have 10 projects underway by the end of the year.

Sonmez said 50 to 60 people would be working on the projects, with about half the centre’s staff being full-time and the other half including collaborators from industry, academia and government.

New technologies and business models are increasingly taking form in areas that have never been defined by existing laws and which policy-makers are struggling to understand, Sonmez said.

The Forum said areas of focus could include robotics, precision medicine, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing and the use of personal data in large-scale analytics.

‘Accelerating change’

It also plans to collaborate on existing Forum projects, such as the security of connected devices, digital trade and the use of new technologies to manage the world’s oceans.

“Given the accelerating change brought on by innovation, continuous public-private cooperation on a global level is needed more than ever,” stated Forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab.

The European Commission is in the planning stages of regulations to better secure Intenet-connected devices, amidst a wider overhaul of communications and digital policy aimed at adapting the regulatory environment to new technologies.

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