Figuring out the Future at Dubai's World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of Global Future Councils came to a close in Dubai this week. At the center of the world's largest brainstorming event was the future and the fourth industrial revolution.
Our Moon Connyoung sent this special feature piece from Dubai. Dubai. If you came to Dubai a few decades ago, sand is all you would have gotten. Then in a matter of years, amazing things happened.
"Dividing the largest city in UAE into two commercial districts, this Dubai Creek epitomizes the city's personality. The magnificent sophistication of the 21st century walking hand in hand with these ancient abras.... traditional wooden boats used for centuries as a means of transport."
"In the span of just twenty years Dubai turned from desert into a jaw dropping oasis of stone, marble, concrete, glass and roar excitement. The bolder and wackier the idea the more likely it was to be accepted. For instance, the Burj Khalifa Tower right behind me... is the tallest structure in the world standing at almost 830 meters off the ground. Bringing Burj Khalifa to life required a combination of visionary ideals and solid science... with an eye on the future."
"So, it's really no wonder that the World Economic Forum's inaugural meeting focused future-preparedness is taking place right here in Dubai."
The Network of Global Future Councils is a new community launched by the World Economic Forum to provide insight and vision to tackle some of the world's most critical global challenges and help prepare governments, businesses and communities for the arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
"So the beauty of this meeting is the mandate, their role of the councils is in the wider organiztion, the wider community is to help us contribute to our neighborhood to bring about solid, systemic change."
Lee Howell, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, is the main architect of this unique discussions platform.
He says with a two-year mandate, the role of the councils is to contribute analysis and generate ideas so that knowledge captured here are directly channelled into projects to prepare for the future.
The key question?
"How do we become more prepared? How do we actually anticipate and not be surprised about these changes? First is to get the relevant experts from all walks of life to actually give a better picture not just today but of the future or anticipate that so that we can go from the diagnosis, sort of a prognosis and then to possibly prescription on how to better prepare for this."
Lee Sang-yup is co-chairing one of the 35 councils - the Council on Future of Biotechnology.
A world-renowned chemical and biomolecular engineer and distinguished professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Lee is excited about the plethora of ideas exchanged under his moderation.
"Our council will address this issue in multidimensional metrix mode. So, one axis will be what. What here means climate change we have to address, food for everybody in all 9-point-7 billion people, healthcare, chronic diseases, neurological disorders etc. A lot of these what issues will be mapped with enabling subtechnologies of biotech. That is how."
So, that is metabolic engineering to address climate change, gene editing for some of the genetic diseases and food production... to name a few.
"Then we're going to map with what, how, when, where, who, and why. We came up with a platform to think about. We're going to humbly suggest things to consider by the other experts, government, public and all the other stakeholders."
And, how do you do that? How do you share the thoughts and ideas discussed among council members here at this forum in this magnificent resort in Dubai with the rest of the world?
Again, advanced technology.
"This is in your hub, and what you're seeing here is some of the experts being invited to speak live on Facebook.
And, shaping the future of reality with a sense of stewardship. With a sense of stewardship... as more than seven hundred of the world's leading minds here in 2016 today are committed to doing.
Making decisions, not just for the most pressing and urgent issues, but making decisions with the future generation in mind. A responsive and responsible leadership in practice.