30 January 2024

A Student Journey to Davos

As part of the 2024 World Economic Forum, the Geneva Graduate Institute, through its Tech Hub, hosted a conference on “AI Geopolitical Implications for Business, Government, and Society” at AI House Davos on 16 January. The discussion was driven by three MINT students: Yaqin Zhang, Vibhaa Sreedharan, and Tobias Schaub, who are working together on an Applied Research Project on the effects of AI. Together, they share their experience prompting four distinguished speakers to share their insights and expertise on this key topic: Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President of Microsoft and alumnus of the Institute; Amandeep Gill, Under-Secretary-General, UN Tech Envoy; Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union; and Marie-Laure Salles, Director of the Institute.

It's wonderful to be here with students, and I can say that as a former student myself of this Institute, which maybe is the most important thing in my title, so to speak, this evening!
Brad Smith
Vice Chair and President of Microsoft and Alumnus of the Geneva Graduate Institute

Yaqin Zhang, Vibhaa Sreedharan and Tobias Schaub share what it was like to be a student at Davos.


What was it like to be a student at Davos?
Davos was a unique opportunity for us. We had the chance to taste the atmosphere of international conferences, meet insightful people, and be part of the current debate about artificial intelligence. Since we were there as partners of the AI House in Davos, we not only had the opportunity to moderate a high-level panel discussion but also to attend many other discussions and events. These covered a broad range of topics, from the development of future AI to how to regulate AI and other implications of AI for humanity. Driven by the same passion and curiosity for AI applications, we have had in-depth conversations with experts in different fields. There was genuine curiosity on their part to understand our perspectives, and we deeply valued and appreciated the same.

You are collaborating on an Applied Research Project related to AI and Geopolitics. Tell us about it.
Our applied research project is in collaboration with the Swisscom Digital Lab at the EPFL. The research is focused on studying the geopolitics of the AI-relevant semiconductor supply chain. The main objective of our foresight research is to develop four possible future scenarios of the geopolitics of the AI-relevant semiconductor supply chain. This will help businesses and governments anticipate and better understand the potential threats to the supply chain. We observed in Davos that AI technology is being used more widely than previously predicted, which makes access to the hardware for AI, such as semiconductors or computer chips, much more crucial for various stakeholders.

What  was the most interesting or exciting element of the experience?
Tobias - For me, the most interesting element of my time in Davos was the new perspectives I could gain. Not just from the many things I learned in the AI House or during our panel discussion but also in other places of the WEF, such as the House of Ukraine. I could clearly notice the creativity and the energy when it comes to solving different issues of our planet. To be there was to have a finger on the pulse of the time, which was more than exciting. Therefore, I am very grateful for the given opportunity.

Vibhaa Sreedharan - It was really interesting to hear the discussions around different facets of AI. I was fascinated to hear diverging perspectives about the potential of AI, or rather lack of, to supersede human intelligence. Considering the context of our current research, it was also enriching to hear about the positive effects of development of AI and what could be done to ensure such development of AI is more accessible and inclusive. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and it has truly been a rewarding and educational experience.

Yaqin Zhang - I find it fascinating that experts from different perspectives are sitting together, talking about the same issue, bringing depth to the current conversation about AI. For example, entrepreneurs and governors, while both holding hope for AI and respect for humanities, propose different approaches to regulations of AI. Their conversations delineated the information gap among stakeholders, which is also a core to our research project. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to be in Davos and witness exciting “clashes” of insights and ideas and foresights.



Watch the panel chaired by Yaqin Zhang, Vibhaa Sreedharan and Tobias Schaub:


AI Geopolitical Implications for Business, Government, and Society | AI House Davos 2024
Artificial Intelligence

The Institute and AI

The Institute focuses on AI in international affairs, offering programmes, research and executive education on AI's geopolitical, societal and ethical implications, including areas such as governance, warfare, democracy, education and health among others.