Our thinking

The view from Davos reported by Jonathan Faull

Davos is talking about everything but Brexit and Trump

Snow, traffic, glimpses of world leaders, suits and boots. Chaos in Davos? Yes, but somehow it works and politicians, business and NGO leaders, bankers, media folk and consultants all congregate in a small Alpine village to discuss world affairs. The big theme emerging this year (after day one) is how to adapt globalisation to concerns about inequality and protection of ways of life from the ways of the world. 

Brexit remains the principal preoccupation of the British contingent, but is seldom mentioned by others. Similarly, President Trump’s expected arrival at the end of the week is much discussed by the Americans, but far less in other gatherings. 

Asian issues are more prominent, while everyone has a story, an idea or a hunch about tech issues. Privacy, new antitrust paradigms, artificial intelligence and algorithms upending society or solving its problems, subverting or sustaining democracy, all of these and more are the most feverish topics. The search is on for the best ways to harness the benefits of technology by updating policies and structures largely developed in a world of manufacturing and trade in physical goods. The mood is better than in recent years because of encouraging growth figures, but there is a palpable sense of unease and being on the cusp of change, calling for leadership from politicians and all those involved in the development of ideas and solutions.