DataKind + Partners Address World Leaders at Davos as AI Takes Center Stage

The recent crises have had an uneven impact on the relationship between citizens and institutions, highlighting the need to address disparities that can’t be ignored. Specifically, the pandemic laid bare the need to close the digital divide to ensure that every community has access to health, education, and trusted information. As a technology partner to the social sector, we see daily the immediate and cumulative impact these gaps have. 

“Cooperation in a Fragmented World” was the theme of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting with leaders calling for “bold collective action”. DataKind CEO Lauren Woodman spoke on panels focused on engaging in forward-looking dialogues and helping to identify solutions through public-private partnerships.

“Investing in AI, With Care” Lauren closes out the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting session on responsible investment in AI moderated by Ina Fried, Chief Technology Correspondent, Axios, stating that “we all have to be accountable.” Other speakers included: Hanzade Dogan (Chairwoman, Hepsiburada), Thomas Siebel (Chairman and CEO, C3 AI), Jim Breyer (Founder and CEO, Breyer Capital), Kay Firth-Butterfield (Head of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum LLC)


Lauren and Thomas Siebel (Chairman and CEO, C3 AI) speaking on the “Investing in AI, With Care” panel at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.


Below are some big, not so surprising themes in no particular order from this year’s convening. 

  1. Continued focus on global security. The war in Ukraine – and the realization that we might be in a stalemate situation unless something changes – is weighing heavily on global leaders, especially in Europe. With a warmer-than-expected winter, fears about wavering support for Ukraine have eased as the threat of Russian gas supplies has eased. This may give Europe, and the world, a chance to reorient before next winter and find a solution to the conflict.
  2. Importance of global economics. Supply chains are still challenging for many industries, and “friendshoring” is an emerging reality, driven by moving supply chains, geopolitics, and different approaches to key policy issues. Free trade advocates and development leaders are worried about what this means for global trade flows. Emerging economies may be at higher risk of being left behind. That level of uncertainty means that concern about the instability of the international system will continue and keep fears of a global recession on the front-burner.
  3. Urgency around climate and food crises. Climate is the existential threat, but food security remains a high priority. While the immediate shortages envisioned in 2022 seem less likely, no one thinks we’ve figured out how to build a resilient system that can effectively feed the global population. From agriculture to distribution systems there are opportunities to reimagine how we both improve access to healthy, nutritious food while reducing the impact on climate change.
  4. Emergence of new technologies. Two years ago, every conversation was blockchain. Last year was crypto. Now it’s AI. The accessibility of ChatGPT has ignited the global imagination and sparked excitement – and not surprisingly, raised fears about ethics, the impact on work, and the potential for disruption. This is one of those moments that feels as important as the launch of Win95, the birth of the Internet, or the introduction of the iPhone – what one colleague called “punctuated equilibrium.” Whatever your perspective, AI is the conversation topic for the foreseeable future.

In an age of multiple crises and undeniable inequities, the biggest takeaway from being on the ground at Davos was that the world needs DataKind now more than ever.

We work with mission-driven organizations to unlock their potential by using data science and AI ethically and responsibly and help them use data to observe, reason, and act in the world. By taking a human-centered and collaborative approach, our solutions are insightful and impactful. With a skillset and expertise as varied as our 30,000 individual community members, DataKind has a long track record of successfully delivering data insights for positive impact through a portfolio of over 350 projects. 

For more than a decade, we’ve partnered with social impact organizations to advance data solutions into turnkey tools that are accessible and valuable public goods. Working on topics as diverse as transforming data trust for global community health programs to increasing local knowledge of housing insecurity in the U.S. to improving humanitarian response and anticipating crises with AI-assisted dataset discovery, we’ve delivered tools with global reach, dozens of citations, and user communities into the thousands. 

As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, we must come back stronger, invigorated, and better equipped for the future. We must ensure that that solutions are designed with, and not just for, the intended community. We must examine how organizations adapted, and share learnings for broader resiliency. To the extent that technology helped us shift delivery models, we must evaluate whether those models are scalable, equitable, and ethical. And we must recognize that effective partnerships demand expertise and engagement from all of us – government, business, and civil society – working together for the communities and citizens we represent and serve.


“AI and White Collar Jobs” Lauren speaks on the recent breakthroughs in AI and the future for knowledge workers at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting moderated by Ina Fried, Chief Technology Correspondent, Axios. Other speakers included: Sir Martin Sorrell (Executive Chairman, S4Capital PLC), Mihir Shukla (CEO and Co-Founder, Automation Anywhere, Inc.), Erik Brynjolfsson (Professor; Director, Digital Economy Lab, Stanford University)

Images and video above courtesy of World Economic Forum.

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