14 Feb 2024

Prof Vukosi Marivate's Personal Reflections on Annual World Economic Forum Meeting in Davos 2024

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is an experience like no other.

I had the privilege of attending the annual World Economic Forum meeting for the first time in January 2024. My participation was made possible thanks to an invitation from the WEF, representing the Forum of Young Global Leaders (YGL 23), and with the generous support of the Aliko Dangote Foundation.

In this post, I’ll share my reflections on the Davos experience, which can largely be encapsulated by the phrase: “It’s a lot.”

AI Everywhere

Artificial Intelligence was a dominant theme both within and outside the conference center. I had the opportunity to engage in several panels, podcasts, and interviews, discussing our work in AI and highlighting the advancements being made on the African continent. The sheer volume of AI-related activities was astonishing. A highlight for me was spending a day at the AI House on the promenade, a fantastic initiative put together by Marina Gracia March and her collaborators. I also had the pleasure of running into Ciira wa Maina, a leader in Data Science Africa, and my colleague and friend. Together with Neil Lawrence, they were instrumental in launching the International Computation and AI Network of Excellence initiative.


Vukosi AI Sightings:

Must-Watch WEF Meeting Sessions:

Trust is a Virtue

The theme for the 2024 Annual Meeting was rebuilding trust. In a pre-meeting post, I explored what this theme means to me - 4 Young Global Leaders from Africa: how representation on the world stage can build trust. This theme becomes even more critical as we navigate the challenges of AI and disinformation, especially in a year when half of the world’s population will be participating in elections. At DSFSI, we’re gearing up to combat misinformation in the 2024 South African election.

Data is at the Core

Ensuring that all voices are heard in the AI revolution is imperative, and data plays a crucial role in this. As an NLP researcher focusing on low-resource languages, the importance of expanding access to language resources and using data responsibly is clear to me. I had the honor of participating in a panel hosted by Data.org and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, titled “A Front Row View to the Future of Impact AI” session. Here I got to share our experiences on working to harness data for social impact and the role trust with stakeholders play

First Final thoughts.

  • This experience at Davos has been incredibly enriching, offering insights into a different part of global happenings with governments and industry. What was even more impactful was the private conversations that I had the privilige of having.
  • It was great to reconnect as well as meet other YGLs and celebreate the YGL 20th Anniversary.
  • It was great being part of the Team SA!
  • More thoughts will come as the year goes.
  • I got reunited📹 with snow 😃.