World Economic Forum San Francisco Center Opens, Aims to Spread Tech Benefits 

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  •  The World Economic Forum today opens the doors of its Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the Presidio in San Francisco, with Mayor Lee of San Francisco and Governor Inslee of Washington in attendance
  • The Center will convene start-ups, venture capitalists, the world’s leading companies, experts, academics, NGOs and governments to discuss how science and technology policies can benefit all in society
  • Among the opening’s more than 120 participants from a dozen countries are start-up founders, the CEOs of Salesforce, Kaiser Permanente, IDEO and Turkcell, and the presidents of five top global research universities
  • For more information, visit http://wef.ch/sfopening to watch the opening Friday live at 08.45 PT

San Francisco, 24 March 2017  – The World Economic Forum on Friday opens the doors of its new San Francisco-based Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Its mission is to accelerate the deployment of technology and science for positive impact on individuals and society, while minimizing their downside risks. A plenary address by Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco and Governor Jay R. Inslee of Washington will mark the opening of the Center.

The latest developments in science and technology can see companies introducing innovations that make conventional regulations obsolete and break down boundaries and frameworks, creating unintended societal consequences.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is reshaping industries, challenging existing regulatory frameworks and redefining what it means to be a human,” said Murat Sönmez, Member of the World Economic Forum Managing Board and Head of the new Center, ahead of the opening. “We need to urgently develop policy norms and frameworks and apply these innovations to ensure their benefits affect us all. This is the purpose of the Center and its work starts today.”

Among the topics the Center will address are the jobs of the future, artificial intelligence and ethics, Industrial Internet of Things (IoT), cross-border data flows, civil drones, autonomous vehicles and the environmental commons.

“San Francisco has a long history of celebrating innovation and this Center will be another tool to foster that pioneering spirit,” said Mayor Lee. “The presence of the World Economic Forum in our city will help accelerate innovative science and technology policies, and ensure that they leave a positive lasting impact on our society.”

To achieve its goals, the Center will convene governments, academics, NGOs and other stakeholders from around the world in its San Francisco offices, alongside the world’s most innovative start-ups and leading companies. Over 120 such stakeholders convene at the Center on Friday, including Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland and Nicholas Dirks, Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, as well as start-up founders and venture capitalists, and participants from Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Turkey and the UK.

“Technology companies cannot do their work in isolation. We must be aware of the effects our innovations have on societies and the environment as a whole,” said Marc Benioff, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Salesforce. “This global Center will allow us to much better understand the impact we have on society and the positive role we can play.” Benioff will serve as the inaugural chair of the Center’s Advisory Board.

The creation of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution was first announced in October and is capped today by the official opening of the offices at the historic Presidio of San Francisco, in the heart of Silicon Valley, the world’s leading center for technology start-ups, innovation and investing.

The official programme starts at 08.45 Pacific Time with a plenary session which can be watched on http://wef.ch/sfopening. It will be followed by a full day’s programme of workshops and discussions.

About the Center: The Center is set up by the World Economic Forum with support from its inaugural partners Salesforce, Kaiser Permanente, Microsoft, Palantir, SAP, Huawei, IDEO, Reliance Industries and Turkcell among others. The Center can host meetings for over 120 people and has initial capacity to grow to up to 80 staff.