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Grown-up AI conversations are finally happening, says expert Azeem Azhar
Nuanced AI conversations a major progress, says expert Azeem Azhar | GZERO World

Grown-up AI conversations are finally happening, says expert Azeem Azhar

Tech expert Azeem Azhar is optimistic the conversation around generative artificial intelligence has shifted from existential risk to practical applications at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Artificial intelligence dominated the conversation at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, but what is the business world getting right vs. wrong about how it will affect our lives? On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer sat down with AI expert and writer Azeem Azhar for his take on how conversations around the rapidly developing technology have changed in the last year. Unlike previous flash-in-the-pan technologies like crypto and blockchain, Azhar notes, AI is just getting started, and almost every CEO he spoke with has integrated it into their business in some way.
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Jess Frampton

Mark Carney sees more problems than solutions emerge from Davos

Davos is a good place to recognize problems but not such a good place to solve them, according to Lord Mark Malloch Brown, a British politician and diplomat who was in the Swiss Alps this month. “A new generation of modest, listening and empathetic leaders is needed – the antithesis of Davos Man,” he tweeted.

The World Economic Forum has steered so far to the north of public opinion that it is now being used as a punchline – the New York Times noted that “the Davos Consensus” is now a counter-indicator of what is likely to happen. “Trump is already the president at Davos — which is a good thing because the Davos consensus is usually wrong,” said Alex Soros, son of George and chair of the Open Society Foundation, on a panel at this year’s forum.

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Annie Gugliotta

Graphic Truth: Who's who at Davos

For one week, heads of state, business titans, and thought leaders gather in the Swiss Alps and discuss the world’s most pressing problems. With all of that money, political power, and intelligence in the same room, Davos is, in theory, the perfect place to get big things done.

But that’s not always the case. This year's Davos didn’t surmount tangible progress on climate change, the war in the Middle East, or any of the countless political issues that were on the table to be discussed. Overall, global politics took a backseat at the World Economic Forum. Could this be because political leaders were vastly outnumbered by CEOs? To find out, we looked at who was in the room where it (didn’t) happen.

A man and woman walk in front of the World Economic Forum Convention Center in Davos, Switzerland.

Hannes P. Albert/dpa via Reuters

Hard Numbers: Women attendees in Davos, Talks on peace in Ukraine, Taxing extreme wealth, Rebuilding homes in Gaza

28: A little over a quarter (28%) of attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year were women (roughly 800 in total). That's up from 15% a decade ago, but it's clear the annual conference is still overwhelmingly attended by men.
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Jess Frampton

The free world comes out swinging

As the Davos jet set arrived in the Swiss Alps earlier this week, the weather matched the mood: gloomy, with much to be gloomy about.

A barometer on global cooperation released by the World Economic Forum suggested that in almost every category – trade, innovation, health, and security – the picture is as turbulent as a brooding J.M.W. Turner seascape.

The study suggested cooperation is being eroded by conflict and competition from autocracies around the world. In the WEF’s Chief Economists Outlook, 56% of the respondents said they expect the global economy to weaken this year, in part because of geopolitical uncertainty.

Events in Ukraine, Gaza, and the Red Sea are precarious, and the Western response is half-hearted, appearing to confirm Russian President Vladimir Putin’s view that democracies are weak and hamstrung by the need to win votes.

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Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian attends the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 17, 2024.

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Iranian diplomat shakes things up at Davos

The World Economic Forum has always been a big tent when it comes to its attendees. The Russians have participated in large numbers in the past, with oligarchs throwing the wildest parties, replete with caviar and vodka chasers served by throngs of young women calling themselves translators.

That all ended with the invasion of Ukraine – and the US, EU, and Swiss sanctions.

But the tradition of keeping Davos welcome to all-comers has continued with the appearance this week of Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. In an interview on Wednesday, he called Hamas a “liberation movement” while insisting that Iran does not agree with the murder of women and children. (Israel’s President Isaac Herzog had a different interpretation in his session on Thursday, calling Hamas “a platform of terror for Iran.”)

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Annie Gugliotta

Graphic Truth: Davos doomsdayers

The World Economic Forum asked 1,490 experts from the worlds of academia, business, and government, as well as the international community and civil society to assess the evolving global risk landscape.

These leaders hailed from 113 different countries and the results show a deteriorating global outlook over the next 10 years, with the number of people who responded that the “global catastrophic risks [are] looming” jumping from 3% over the next 2 years to 17% over the next 10.

But after a year of lethal conflicts from Gaza and Ukraine to Sudan, record-breaking heat, with both droughts and wildfires, and polarization on the rise, can you blame them for being worried?

A slogan related to Artificial Intelligence is displayed on a screen in the Intel pavilion during the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

AI takes center stage at Davos

Artificial intelligence is a hot topic in Davos, Switzerland, this week, as government officials and industry leaders gather for the 54th edition of the World Economic Forum summit. There are more than 30 scheduled events about AI concerning jobs, healthcare, ethics, chips, and access.

Among the most "sought-after" attendees are AI executives, including OpenAI's Sam Altman, Inflection AI's Mustafa Suleyman, Google DeepMind's Lila Ibrahim, Cohere's Aidan Gomez, and Mistral AI's Florian Bressand. Altman, who will speak about the benefits and risks of AI on Thursday, gave a recent podcast interview with Microsoft founder Bill Gates, sharing his thoughts on AI regulation.

Altman said that he's interested in the idea of a "global regulatory body that looks at those super-powerful systems" – ones far more powerful than current models like GPT-4 – and suggested that the IAEA, the nuclear regulatory model, might be a good model. "This needs a global agency of some sort because of the potential for global impact.”

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