Since 1970, the World Economic Forum, http://www.weforum.org/ has operated as a non-profit organization, in Geneva, Switzerland, devoted to resolving such issues as economic growth, environmental sustainability, financial systems, health for all, and social development. Its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, is a must-attend event for many entrepreneurs, CEOs, and venture capitalists. In a March 2012 article, “Magic Mountain: What Happens in Davos?” http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/03/05/120305fa_fact_paumgarten , New Yorker
magazine staff writer, Nick Paumgarten, called the Davos meeting “an exercise in corporate speed dating.”
Until recently, the typical W.E. F. member and Forum-goer was an older, wealthy, male, globe-trotter, sneeringly called a “Davos Man” by those not inclined or not invited to join. Not surprisingly, a prominent topic at this year’s annual meeting was intergenerational conflict. The other was big data – the proliferation of information and the problem of processing it.
W.E.F. founder and chairman, Klaus Schwab, opened the meeting by thanking the “global shapers”, a new community of 100 young social visionaries and entrepreneurs brought into the Forum to broaden its perspective. “Intergenerational conflict is one of the biggest challenges facing us. The more we pile our problems on the backs of the next generation, the more we sin,” said Schwab.
The views of, Rapelang Rabana, Founding Chief Executive Officer of Yeigo Communications, South Africa, were typical of many young shapers. She championed wider access to mobile technology to provide critical services such as education to underserved parts of the world.
Another global shaper sharing technology visions at Davos was Jane McGonigal, designer of alternate reality games which improve real lives and solve real problems. She is Creative Director of SuperBetter, author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (2011), and was a keynote speaker at ASTD TK 2012.
One attendee, Daniel Arbess, who runs a hedge fund for the boutique investment firm Perella Weinberg, came to Davos specifically because of his concern over intergenerational discord. He told reporter Nick Paumgarten “How will this generation make decisions? How do they understand the economy?” Arbess fears that “polarizing rhetoric, fostered by social media, may be corrupting their ability to discuss it in terms their elders can understand or abide.” He continued, “The root cause of everything we’re experiencing is a failure of holistic thinking in a world of increasingly complex, fragmented, and ubiquitous information.”