How tech can solve global problems

A director at the World Economic Forum discusses how tech, such as AI and drones, can be the solutions to global issues related to healthcare, education, and logistics.

Dan Patterson, a Senior Producer for CBS News and CNET,  interviewed Murat Sönmez, director of the World Economic Forum, about how tech can help solve global issues. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

Murat Sönmez: I think we just need to put our heads down and agree on common purposes--and we have the intellectual capital, the financial capital, and the will--and make sure that it's inclusive. We bring multi stakeholders--from those who are left behind to business leaders--and really formulate solutions and try it out and not wait for the perfect moment, and do it fast.

Dan Patterson: I'm being a little flippant when I say, what are the solutions to all these problems? Put yourself in the shoes of a normal person living anywhere. It could be Europe, it could be Asia, it could be North America. If you're a normal person, you go about your day-to-day life. What are the solutions to many of these technologically-induced anxieties I might feel and see around me? What are the solutions for a normal common person?

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Murat Sönmez: We just need to prove--demonstrate by proving--that the solutions benefit them. Otherwise, it becomes theoretical, and it can be a long debate. In the absence of proof, anxiety will always win. If you are a person living in a remote town, you don't have access to healthcare. Maybe, with artificial intelligence, we can provide--through your mobile phone--services that would otherwise be delivered through a physical hospital, which you don't have access to. 

If you have young kids, they want to get education on different topics. We already have online programs, but they haven't really taken up. Maybe with personalized education programs driven by technology, we can bring everybody's skills up to a level where they can be employed. 

In terms of drones, I think it represents a huge opportunity for logistics. If you want to deliver goods and services in a climate-friendly way, in a low-cost way, we can actually do that with drones. We've seen that. 

One area that we're looking at is passenger drones. If you ever live in a big city--you live in New York or live in San Francisco or Los Angeles or Israel, anywhere in the world--we get stuck in traffic. One opportunity is to use passenger flying drones. We're actually doing a pilot in the United States, and we're not too far away from that.

Watch more interviews with Dan Patterson and Murat Sönmez

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