By Naveen Athrappully
Klaus Schwab, chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), during an event in Dubai, called on global governments to work together and control new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) to decide the fate of humankind, contradicting Musk’s recent warning at the same event.
In 2015, Schwab wrote a book called The Fourth Industrial Revolution, in which he mentioned more than 20 technologies that will change the world. “All those technologies have become reality,” he said at the World Government Summit in Dubai this week while adding that humanity is moving into the “exponential phase” of technology transformation.
Schwab cited technologies like AI, metaverse, cryptocurrencies, space tech, and synthetic biology that will change the world. “Our life in 10 years from now will be completely different, very much affected. And who masters those technologies in some way will be the master of the world,” Schwab stated.
The engineering of organisms to develop unique purposes and abilities, which are not inherently available, is known as synthetic biology. It involves changing the organism’s genetic code by infusing it with another creature’s DNA, a radical step-up from genome editing. The WEF is a proponent of the methodology.
“You cannot catch up with the new technologies. You have to be a frontrunner because otherwise, you will be on the losing outside.” One of the main concerns is how to shape “necessary policies” to ensure that technologies “serve” humankind.
“Change goes so fast in our world, and we go even faster. How can we make sure that the individual, each citizen, doesn’t feel overwhelmed by change because he cannot understand really what’s going on?” Schwab said, while adding that if people do not understand change, they can turn fearful and react negatively.
The WEF head called on governments “to have the ambition and the vision to show that those technologies can serve for the good.”
Schwab also raised fears of new technologies getting out of control. “If we do not walk together on a global scale, if you do not formulate, shape together the necessary policies, they (technologies) will escape our power.”
Danger of Too Much Government Cooperation
The WEF head’s call for close cooperation between governments globally to shape the future of the human race stands in stark contrast to that of industrialist Elon Musk, who on Wednesday warned at the World Government Summit against a “single world government.”
“We should be a little bit concerned about actually becoming too much of a single world government … If I may say, we want to avoid creating a civilizational risk by having—frankly, this might sound a little odd—too much cooperation between governments,” Musk said.
He pointed out that throughout history, multiple civilizations have risen and fallen. However, these events did not result in the doom of humanity as a whole since these were separate civilizations that were separated by great distances.
“It sounds a little odd, but we want to have some amount of civilizational diversity such that if something does go wrong with some part of civilization, then the whole thing doesn’t just collapse and humanity keeps moving forward,” the entrepreneur warned.
‘Role Model’ China, Stakeholder Ideology
In his speech at the World Government Summit, Schwab did not detail what system he believes the world should adopt in the future.
But back in November, during an interview with Chinese state-run television network CGTN, Schwab had called China a “role model” for other nations, even though the communist regime in Beijing is known to suppress free speech, conduct blatant and widespread human rights abuses, and crack down on fundamental freedoms.
The “Chinese model is certainly a very attractive model for quite a number of countries,” he said at the time.