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Global Risks Report 2023 : Technology will exacerbate inequalities

  • The world faces a set of risks that feel both wholly new and eerily familiar. The Global Risks Report 2023 explores some of the most severe risks we may face over the next decade. As we stand on the edge of a low-growth and low-cooperation era, tougher trade-offs risk eroding climate action, human development and future resilience.

  • Technology will exacerbate inequalities while risks from cybersecurity will remain a constant concern

The Global Risks Report 2023 by World Economic Forum presents the results of the latest Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS). In the report, there are three time frames used for understanding global risks.

  • Chapter 1 considers the mounting impact of current crises (i.e. global risks which are already unfolding) on the most severe global risks that many expect to play out over the short term (two years).

  • Chapter 2 considers a selection of risks that are likely to be most severe in the long term (10 years), exploring newly emerging or rapidly accelerating economic, environmental, societal, geopolitical and technological risks that could become tomorrow’s crises.

  • Chapter 3 imagines mid-term futures, exploring how connections between the emerging risks outlined in previous sections may collectively evolve into a “polycrisis” centred around natural resource shortages by 2030. The report concludes by considering perceptions of the comparative state of preparedness for these risks and highlighting enablers to charting a course to a more resilient world. Below are key findings of the report.

Out of the ten crises we are facing, technology risks remains a constant concern in the short and long terms. On the one hand, evolving global risks bring complexity to the technology sector, and on the other hand technological development and disruptions also create changing challenges to global risk management.

Technology will exacerbate inequalities while risks from cybersecurity will remain a constant concern

The technology sector will be among the central targets of stronger industrial policies and enhanced state intervention. Spurred by state aid and military expenditure, as well as private investment, research and development into emerging technologies will continue at pace over the next decade, yielding advancements in AI, quantum computing and biotechnology, among other technologies. For countries that can afford it, these technologies will provide partial solutions to a range of emerging crises, from addressing new health threats and a crunch in healthcare capacity, to scaling food security and climate mitigation. For those that cannot, inequality and divergence will grow. In all economies, these technologies also bring risks, from widening misinformation and disinformation to unmanageably rapid churn in both blue- and white-collar jobs.

However, the rapid development and deployment of new technologies, which often comes with limited protocols governing their use, poses its own set of risks. The ever-increasing intertwining of technologies with the critical functioning of societies is exposing populations to direct domestic threats, including those that seek to shatter societal functioning.

Alongside a rise in cybercrime, attempts to disrupt critical technology-enabled resources and services will become more common, with attacks anticipated against agriculture and water, financial systems, public security, transport, energy and domestic, space-based and undersea communication infrastructure. Technological risks are not solely limited to rogue actors. Sophisticated analysis of larger data sets will enable the misuse of personal information through legitimate legal mechanisms, weakening individual digital sovereignty and the right to privacy, even in well-regulated, democratic regimes.

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