World Economic Forum opens “Industry 4.0” center in San Francisco’s Presidio

Can we call it “PresiDavos?” The World Economic Forum — best known for its annual who’s-who gathering of thinkers in Davos, Switzerland — opened its Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco this morning, a new space for accelerating technology and science associated with the current data-driven tech revolution.

The center will be a meeting place for politicians and city planners to chat with the individuals and companies working on the groundbreaking technologies that will have a huge impact on the workforce of the future.

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“The 4th revolution is reshaping industries, challenging existing regulatory frameworks, and redefining what it means to be a human,” said Murat Sönmez, Member of the Managing Board and Head of the Center. “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.”

Artificial intelligence, national digital policies, cross-border data flows, drones, autonomous vehicles and environmental technology will all be discussed at the center, alongside any new innovations that come out of Silicon Valley or another tech hub.

Expect big names at opening

Several big name CEOs will be involved in the center, including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Other tech executives from Germany, India, UK and Turkey were present at the opening on Friday.

Aside from Benioff’s Salesforce, other inaugural tech industry partners include Kaiser Permanente, Microsoft, Palantir, SAP, Huawei, IDEO, Reliance Industries, and Turkcell 

“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.”

The center could be a place for politicians and public figures to learn more about the technologies that are entering into the industry and consumer market. Most don’t know how close artificial intelligence or autonomous cars are to the mainstream, and the World Economic Forum could help crystalize the timelines, allowing streamlined and effective policy.

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