WEF seeks trust in technology, inaugurates councils for Industry 4.0
.•Experts charge Africa not to miss opportunity
Ahead of the revolution expected to emanate from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, otherwise known as Industry 4.0, and restore confidence and trust in technology, the World Economic Forum (WEF), has launched six global councils.
WEF said the development is also targeted at helping policymakers and businesses strike the right balance between enabling emerging technologies and proactively mitigating the social risks that can result.The six Global Fourth Industrial Revolution Councils, which is expected to focus on pressing technology areas of artificial intelligence, autonomous mobility, blockchain, drones, Internet of Things, and precision medicine, would bring together more than 200 leaders from the public and private sectors, civil society and academia from around the world.
Council members will work together to develop policy guidance, and address “governance gaps” or the absence of well-defined rules for emerging technology. They met for the first time at Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco, USA.
Managing Director and Head of Policy and Institutional Impact, WEF, Richard Samans, said companies and governments are not moving fast enough to anticipate social expectations in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.“We believe that this bottom-up, societally-focused approach can help to build and maintain public trust in the technologies while strengthening the evidence base on which policy decisions are made by governments and companies. This is the first place where this kind of high-level, strategic dialogue on the governance of these technologies will take place across stakeholders and regions on an ongoing basis.”
The Councils will; enable cross-country exchange of policy and regulatory experience, including through case studies; identify and take action to address gaps in public policy or corporate governance through multi-stakeholder cooperation; and shape a common understanding of “best” or “good” policy practice as a means of enabling better policy coordination within and among countries. They will also provide strategic guidance to the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network regarding the governance projects and pilots it undertakes.
The President, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Babatunde Ruwase, noted that fourth industrial revolution is a topical issue Nigerians and Africans as a whole must take seriously, stressing that doing otherwise, may have far-reaching implications on the country and Africa in general.
Ruwase said Nigeria cannot afford to miss out in the opportunities the revolution comes with, having missed those of the first, second, and third industrial revolution.
Speaking with The Guardian, a telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, said the fourth industrial revolution will change the way things are done, and Nigeria should not pretend as if nothing is happening.According to him, he expects the Global Councils to focus attention on Africa, to really help the region to scale up, having missed opportunities that came with previous revolutions.
Vice President and Chairman, Trade Promotion Board, LCCI, Gabriel Idahosa, decried the slow pace of technological advancement in Nigeria and Africa.He said: “It is no news that the developed countries are investing heavily in the fourth industrial revolution. Africa, indeed, Nigeria is far behind. Industrial experts have submitted that of all the regions worldwide, Africa is at a great risk of being left far behind by the fourth industrial revolution.
“Nigeria, with its position in Africa and the population of its youths, needs to brace up. Technology is reshaping our world in an unimaginable manner. We have seen massive use of Robots, Bio-technology, Artificial intelligence and related technologies. Their impact on people, business, workplace and government is felt in all aspects of daily life.”
Councils are organised by the WEF Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Network expanded internationally last year to the People’s Republic of China, India, and Japan. Affiliate centres in Colombia and the United Arab Emirates opened in early 2019. Five of the G7 countries and more than 100 organisations are officially partnered with the Network to create policy frameworks, pilot them and scale up around the world.
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