World Economic Forum
The Forums Logo is seen in this Picture taken at the Annual Meeting 2019 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 20, 2019. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has launched six councils covering some of the most pressing technology areas, namely blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet-of-Things (IoT), autonomous mobility, drones and precision medicine. The councils will focus on developing policy guidance and address “governance gaps” or the absence of well-defined rules for these emerging technologies, the organization said on Wednesday.

The councils will work on developing policy frameworks for their respective area of focus, and take action to address gaps in public policy or corporate governance. They will also provide strategic guidance to WEF’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) regarding the governance projects and pilots they undertake.

“Companies and governments are not moving fast enough to anticipate social expectations in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Richard Samans, managing director and head of policy and institutional impact at WEF.

“We believe that this bottom-up, societally-focused approach can help to build and maintain public trust in the technologies while strengthening the evidence base on which policy decisions are made by governments and companies. This is the first place where this kind of high-level, strategic dialogue on the governance of these technologies will take place across stakeholders and regions on an ongoing basis.”

The six councils count more than 200 members from the public and private sectors, civil society and academia. The councils are chaired by leaders of companies and organizations including the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Dana-Farber, the European Commission, Microsoft, Qualcomm and Uber.

Familiar names include Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO and founder of BitPesa, who co-chairs the Global Blockchain Council, Bradford Smith, president of Microsoft Corp, who co-chairs the Global Artificial Intelligence Council, and Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber Technologies, who co-chairs the Global Autonomous and Urban Mobility Council.

Council members met the first time at WEF’s C4IR in San Francisco on Wednesday.

WEF established the C4IR in 2017 as a hub for global, multi-stakeholder cooperation. The network brings together governments, companies, civil society and experts from around the world to co-design and pilot innovative approaches to the policy and governance of technology. It focuses on developing, implementing and scaling up pilot projects that can be adopted by policy-makers, legislators and regulators worldwide.

Five of the G7 countries, namely Canada, France, Japan, the US and the UK, and more than 100 organizations are officially partnered with the network.