Day 2 of the World Economic Forum (commonly dubbed Davos) wrapped up yesterday. Following a bold opening day headlined by 17 year-old activist Greta Thunberg and US President Donald Trump, which overshadowed proceedings, Day 2 was back to the usual you’d expect from Davos. This year, climate change and economic uncertainty were the two issues on everyone’s mind, and Day 2 carried this on.
Here are some highlights from Day 2.
Activists comment on Trump’s critical speech
After President Trump took to calling climate activists “prophets of doom,” climate scientists at the World Economic Forum have hit back.
“Some could call climate scientists ‘prophets of doom,’” Gail Whiteman, founder of Arctic Basecamp and director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster University, said during a panel session on Wednesday, as reported by CNBC.
“I don’t agree with that — I think we just simply give the evidence.”
Wales’ Prince Charles makes a powerful speech, later meets Thunberg
Prince Charles of Wales made a return to Davos and addressed the matter of climate change in a moving speech.
“Everything I have tried to do, and urge, over the past 50 years has been done with our children and grandchildren in mind, because I did not want to be accused by them of doing nothing except prevaricate and deny the problem,” he said. “Now, of course, they are accusing us of exactly that. Put yourselves in their position, ladies and gentlemen. We simply cannot waste any more time – the only limit is our willingness to act, and the time to act is now.”
“We are in the midst of a crisis that is now, I hope, well understood. Global warming, climate change, the devastating loss of biodiversity are the greatest threats that humanity has ever faced and one largely of our own creation.”
“What good is all the extra wealth in the world, gained from ‘business as usual’, if you can do nothing with it except watch it burn in catastrophic conditions?”
The powerful speech lined up with the message Thunberg was trying to deliver the previous day, similarly pushing for urgent action that seemed to be lacking. Prince Charles even met with her later that day, calling her “remarkable” in an exclusive interview with CNN.
You can find the full transcript of the speech here.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai sings AI’s praises(Image: WEF)
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent company Alphabet, spearheaded talks about quantum computing and artificial intelligence. After all, Google is one of the companies leading the charge when it comes to these two technologies.
“[Quantum Computing] will allow us to understand the world in a deeper way,” Pichai said at the WEF forum titled ‘An Insight, An Idea with Sundar Pichai.’ “We can simulate nature better.”
He explains how the current way computers operates, usings 1s and 0s, is not as efficient as it could be, and highlights nature operates in manner similar to quantum computing.
“QC has a huge potential in the next 5-10 years timeframe. It has the potential to break encryption as we know it today. We can work around the challenges and improve with Quantum Encryption. I think the combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Quantum to solve some of the biggest problems that we see.”
As for AI, Pichai had some bold statements to make.
“AI is one of the most profound things we’re working on as humanity. It’s more profound than fire or electricity,” Bloomberg reported him saying.
Pichai also commented on privacy, and stated that it cannot be a “luxury good” in 2020, while also praising the European Union’s intiative in developing and implementing GDPR.
The Google CEO also touched on the company’s growing interest in healthcare.
Healthcare offers the biggest potential over the next five to 10 years for using artificial intelligence to improve outcomes, Reuters reported him saying.
Late last year, Google bought out FitBit last year in a serious push into the health tech field.
You can watch the full panel here.
The world’s youngest prime minister pushes for change
Late last year, Finland elected the world’s youngest prime minster, who also happens to be a woman. PM Sanna Marin, 34, pushed for expedited action regarding climate change.
“If you look at the long-term situation, we should fight climate change,” she said. “We should do more – we should it faster. Actually, Finland is committed to being carbon neutral by 2035, and we are committed – our government – to tackle climate change now.”
“Capitalism as we know it is dead” – Salesforce CEO shares a startling shift
The CEO of software firm Salesforce, Marc Benioff, made some bold statements at Davos,
“Capitalism as we have known it is dead, and this obsession that we have with maximizing profits for shareholders alone has led to incredible inequality and a planetary emergency,” he said yesterday, as reported by CNBC.
He continued: “When we serve all stakeholders, business is the greatest platform for change. And, the great news is, and I believe you can see it here, that stakeholder capitalism is finally hitting a tipping point.”
Stakeholder capitalism focuses on the needs and wellfare of all stakeholders in a business, and not just its profit-seeking shareholders.
“This gives life to how to measure companies’ progress towards serving all stakeholders, doing a great job for its customers, clients, teammates, and shareholders, and doing a great job for society, and it’s that ‘and’ that is critical,” Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, who was part of the same panel, added.