F
or emerging technologies to achieve their full potential to improve human life and address global challenges, action is needed to make sure their use is governed properly. This is the finding of research published today by the World Economic Forum.

The research forms part of a survey of nearly 900 experts that is used to compile the Forum’s Global Risks report. When asked which emerging technologies need better governance, two technologies were clear outliers: artificial intelligence and robotics, followed by biotechnologies. The third technology most in need of governance is energy capture, storage and transmission.

Other technologies in the top 10 are blockchain and distributed ledger (4), which has been touted as having a game-changing effect on industries, from banking and financial services to agriculture. Following this is geo-engineering (5), which is often seen as a response to climate change but whose effectiveness and potential negative side effects remain largely unknown.

The second half of the top 10 consists of neurotechnologies (6), the proliferation and ubiquitous presence of linked sensors (7), new computing technologies such as quantum computing (8), advanced materials and nanomaterials (9) and space technologies (10).

Top-12 Emerging technologies in need of better governance:

1. Artificial intelligence and robotics

2. Biotechnologies

3. Energy capture, storage and transmission

4. Blockchain and distributed ledger

5. Geoengineering

6. Neurotechnologies

7. Ubiquitous presence of linked sensors

8. New computing technologies

9. Advanced materials and nanomaterials

10. Virtual and augmented realities

11. Space technologies

12. 3D printing

“Despite the great promise that new technologies hold for improving life in the future, it’s clear that more work needs to be done in order to allow them to reach their full potential. This doesn’t just mean managing risks attached to them, but putting in place regulatory environments to allow markets and people to fully leverage the emerging opportunities,” said Margareta Drzeniek Hanouz, Head of Global Competitiveness and Risks and Member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum.

“Rapid advances in AI have revealed current governance and control mechanisms to be at best inadequate to meet accompanying risks. New structures will not only need to meet existing challenges, but also be fast and adaptable enough to keep up with further innovation,” said John Drzik, President, Global Risk and Specialties, Marsh (MMC), USA.

“Governing these new technologies requires a collective and diverse set of skills and expertise. It is crucial that regulatory stakeholders understand the technologies as well as the underlying and interconnected risks embedded in each step of technological evolution, from design to implementation. Leveraging on multistakeholder platforms such as the World Economic Forum helps overcome the knowledge gaps to derive maximum benefit from these new technologies. This will also have a positive impact on economy and society over time,” said John Scott, Chief Risk Officer of Commercial Insurance, Zurich Insurance Group, Switzerland.

Top