Russell gives an insight on his views on the coming “Great Reset” and the “Davos Agenda”
- COVID-19 has highlighted society’s reliance on digital connectivity, whilst exposing the access inequalities of developing countries.
- The tech industry is uniquely positioned to broaden digital access through 5G cloud-based storage solutions which could significantly lower the cost of devices.
- The Edison Alliance, a joint initiative between Verizon and the World Economic Forum, aims to prioritize digital inclusion worldwide.
The past year has starkly illustrated just how crucial digital connectivity has become in the lives of people across the income spectrum, in countries around the world.
It wasn’t that long ago that high-speed internet access was seen as a “nice-to-have” for the affluent and the tech elite. COVID-19 has turned it into a must-have for more and more people – a lifeline for socially distanced work, school, social connections, and even health-care consultations.
This highly networked lifestyle is not likely to disappear with the arrival of coronavirus vaccines. For starters, we’d be kidding ourselves to assume that this will be the last mass shelter-in-place event of our lifetimes. Climate change is loading the dice in favour of extreme weather events and disease-spreading pathogens, any of which could—depending on circumstances—compel us to once again hunker down with our keyboards and screens.
But even without such scenarios, it seems probable that working from home, distance-learning, and the other arrangements we have all improvised for the pandemic will forever alter the way we conduct some of the basic functions of life. We’d been anticipating the arrival of a more digitized society; COVID-19 has simply sped up the timetable.
Then there’s the fact that all of this coincides with the emergence of 5G wireless networks and mass access to cloud storage and computing. This blend of extremely fast connectivity, enormous computing power, and essentially infinite storage capacity—all literally in the palm of one’s hand—marks a watershed moment in humanity’s relationship to its own technology.
Tech industry has a unique role to play
It should also be a watershed in tech’s relationship to humanity. We in the tech industry need to face the fact that our sector is commonly associated—often unfairly, but perhaps more fairly than we’d like to tell ourselves—with widening gaps in our societies. Gaps between rich and poor; between affluent nations and the so-called “developing” world; between urban and rural; between those with advanced or elite educational degrees and those without; between the tech sector itself and the rest of the economy.
If there were ever a moment for tech to change this narrative and bend the arc of its own history, this is it. Some might expect tech to be the last place to look for meaningful advances in social equality, but the arrival of 5G and related technologies offers a once in a generation opportunity for precisely such advances, from precisely such a place.
We need to start from the principle that our industry is uniquely positioned to promise people the tools they need to engage with their own communities, gain access to broader perspectives, and (in pop-psych lingo) to become their best selves. We need to embrace our role in making this promise as equitable, open, and inclusive as possible. And we need to reflect that commitment in everything we do.
Increase digital access to reduce inequalities
The good news is that we now have a reasonable foundation for such dreams of digital inclusivity. Within just the last decade and a half, the proportion of the world’s population with internet access has grown substantially – from about 17% to over 50%, according to the United Nations and the International Telecommunications Union.
However, that heartening statistic conceals wide variances and lingering inequalities. The proportion of people with internet access is over 80% in Europe, but less than 30% in Africa. In addition, there are marked gender imbalances in access within many countries.
Reducing such imbalances – both among and within nations – must be a top priority for our industry. We have all kinds of incentives (some admittedly rather self-serving, some less obviously so) to make this happen.
There is a growing global consensus for such action. On 28 January this year, the World Economic Forum announced The EDISON Alliance, a first of its kind initiative to foster digital access and inclusivity worldwide. Headed by Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg, this public-private collaboration is calling attention to the vital role that connectivity can play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Barriers to exclusive tech are being dismantled
One great ally in this effort will be the shifting economics of technological access. To put it bluntly, tech is getting cheaper even as it’s becoming more powerful.
That’s an amazing combination, and here’s just one example of how it works. One of the tech breakthroughs that 5G makes possible is something called mobile-edge computing, or MEC. In essence, MEC is about the provision of cloud storage capacity at the edge of the network itself.
With that much storage available on the network, devices like laptops and tablets and phones can be smaller and cheaper; after all, they no longer have to hold much storage capacity, since the network now takes care of that. Welcome to the age of the hyper-powered “thin client”, the low-cost, bare-bones device that packs a computational prowess formerly available only on room sized mainframes.
By taking the computing and heavy work out of the device, and putting it at the edge of the network, we can transform virtual reality headsets from $1,500 luxury toys to $100 mass market portals to new realms of education, entertainment and exploration.
The potential implications of this shift are extraordinary. One of our company’s top philanthropic priorities is Verizon Innovative Learning, which seeks to provide high-speed network technologies to under-resourced school districts throughout the United States. The arrival of MEC vastly expands the potential of such an effort.
It is now feasible to imagine low-income districts providing students (and their families) access to a level of computing power that a few years ago would have been available only to major research universities with multi-billion dollar endowments.
But such a radical democratization of tech access won’t happen all by itself. We in the tech industry must be quite intentional about maximizing the barrier smashing, inequality busting potential of our products and services.
To many, our sector has become virtually synonymous with rising levels of social and economic disparity. We now have an extraordinary opportunity to create a new story, both for ourselves and for the world around us. History, and our own customers, will judge us by our choices.
As the Davos 2021 meeting comes to an end we look to some of the points over the few days.
Mr Putin delivered a powerful speech to the Davos meeting this year warning of global tensions and technocratic power over the world.
Vladamir speaks of the escalation of the far left and far right rise, the global defence crumbling and contradictions in politics, and the possible “END OF OUR CIVILISATION”
the apocalyptic speech about “War against All” and the destruction of the modern world, Putin leaves jaws on the floor with his dire warning. speaking on the 2008 financial crisis and the times since then Putin says a better path can take the world in a different direction.
Find out more follow RISEABOVE.NEWS for reviews of this years DAVOS 2021 meeting.
The 51st World Economic Forum starts on January 25, but with a major difference. Whereas this is famously the annual gathering at the Davos ski resort in Switzerland of global leaders from business, government and civil society, this year’s event will take place virtually because of the pandemic.
Inevitably, the event for the 1,200-plus delegates from 60 countries aims to respond to the apocalyptic events of the past 12 months. “A crucial year to rebuild trust” is the theme, built around the “great reset” that World Economic Forum (WEF) founder Klaus Schwab and Prince Charles launched last year.
The event will be accompanied by virtual events in 430 cities across the world, to emphasise the fact that we face global challenges that require global solutions and action.
This recognises that the effects of the pandemic are likely to be increasingly compounded by other major global threats, including the climate crisis, financial crises, and social and economic inequality. To give just one example, the COVID-19 mortality rate in England in December was over twice as high in the most deprived areas than the least deprived.
So how successful is the WEF’s mission likely to be?
Author – Meghanne Uptigrove
We are nearing one full year since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping the globe, ravaging all major industries worldwide and forcing the global economy to grind to a near halt. 2020 has been dominated by social and political upheaval as officials have struggled to find the balance between economic lockdown and protecting the public from the virus. Adding to the uncertainty, disinformation is circulating at an unfathomable rate. Heading into December, tension and mistrust appear to be at an all time high as individuals and groups have begun to rebel against lockdown orders and what many believe to be government forces overstepping their democratic boundaries.
Among the hype and hysteria, the “Great Reset” has become a popular and highly divisive topic in recent months. Aggressive disagreements have broken out among experts, political leaders and the general public, often citing controversial buzzwords like “socialism”, “government control”, and “elite agenda”. In this setting, it has become increasingly difficult to determine what is fact and what is fiction, as fear and confusion fuel conspiracy theories and government distrust.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how connectivity has become an even bigger part of critical infrastructure, helping people in an unprecedented way to work, study and socialize online. Last year, consumer use of fixed broadband increased by an average of two and half hours per day, and on mobile by one hour.
In its first 5G Outlook Series report, the World Economic Forum highlighted several activities behind that increased usage: in healthcare, a 490% increase in telemedicine urgent care visits; in socialization a 75% increase in online gaming; and in retail, online transactions were up 74% globally. In the world of work, Ericsson’s Mobility Report showed 60% of white-collar workers increased their usage of video calls.
Despite the sudden and unprecedented changes in traffic patterns and demand, the networks performed well, with operators generally providing enough network performance. This strong performance was reflected in users’ perceptions, with 83% claiming ICT helped them a lot, in one way or another, to cope with lockdowns.
Without the investments made in 4G and 5G, none of the uses including telemedicine, video calls and gaming could have been delivered to the extent seen through the pandemic.
With vaccines rolling out, there is a risk that society seeks to pick-up from before the pandemic took hold. However, it is obvious the world cannot move forward by returning to the pre-pandemic status quo. If we are to emerge strongly from COVID-19 and tackle greater challenges, such as climate change, then not only do we need to continue the digital evolution, but we need to accelerate it with 5G at the forefront.
By Wang Cong and Chen Qingqing Jan 19 2021
Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the Davos Agenda of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and deliver a speech via video link on January 25, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday, marking the first major diplomatic event of the new year for the Chinese president at a critical time when the world remains engulfed in a COVID-19 pandemic and lasting disruptions to global cooperation from unilateralism orchestrated by the US.
Following an unprecedentedly challenging year in 2020 and latest economic indicators of China’s robust recovery from the COVID-19, Xi’s speech will likely focus on sharing the country’s experience in the hard-fought anti-epidemic battle, calling for more global efforts in overcoming the unprecedented public health crisis while also reiterating China’s continued commitment to an inclusive multilateral approach to address a wide range of pressing global issues, from epidemic control to economic recovery, Chinese analysts said.
The Davos Agenda 2021 will be held virtually from January 25 to 29 under the theme of a crucial year to rebuild trust, the Swiss-based WEF announced on Monday. Over 1,500 businesses, government and civil society leaders from more than 70 countries and regions will attend the online meeting, according to a press release.