• The World Economic Forum opens doors of its "Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution" at the Presidio in San Francisco
  • 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    
  • Baker McKenzie only law firm to be involved with Center

The World Economic Forum has opened 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 the societies, 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 obsolesce conventional regulations and break down boundaries and frameworks, creating unintended societal consequences.

Baker McKenzie, which is the only global law firm to be involved with the Center as part of its long standing and extensive commitment to the Forum, recently announced a significant commitment to an innovation framework which encompassed Machine Learning, Services Transformation and Technology Investments.

"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.”

Erik Scheer, chair of Baker McKenzie's Innovation Committee, who is attending the meeting, said: "I am delighted to attend this important and exciting event, and longer term to contribute to the objectives of the Forum - and in particular to this Center. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will impact the legal profession dramatically, and through this partnership we aim to ensure that not only are we adapting to meet the new needs of clients, but that we are participants in the discussion to harness innovation for the public interest. Like our clients, we are committed to sustainability and a more just world."

Fostering a pioneering spirit

Among the topics the Center will address are the jobs of the future, artificial intelligence and ethics, national digital policies, 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 Edwin M. Lee of San Francisco. "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 also Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland and UC Berkeley President Nicholas Dirks, as well as start-up founders and venture capitalists, and participants from countries including 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." Marc 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 by the official opening of the offices at the historical Presidio of San Francisco, in the heart of Silicon Valley, the world’s leading center for technology start-ups, innovation and investing.

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 the initial capacity to grow to up to 80 staff.

>>Learn more about our work with the World Economic Forum

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