A Week of Insight and Inspiration: The 2024 World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has long been a hub of intellectual exchange and discourse during major global events. During WEF 2024, I was honored to speak on an array of AI topics during the lively atmosphere of the 54th Economic Forum, held in the picturesque town of Davos, Switzerland.

The majestic backdrop of the Swiss Alps provided a dynamic space for the world’s foremost decision-makers to converge and address the most crucial global challenges.

I had the privilege of attending and speaking at the WEF’s peripheral events, where I engaged in candid interviews and shared insights on the progression of AI alongside industry leaders and other notable figures.

At Davos 2024, the theme was “Rebuilding Trust,” with topics such as climate risk, humanitarian crises, economic growth, and ethical AI leadership taking center stage.

Nearly 3,000 political and business leaders from across the spectrum gathered at the World Congress Center, including a U.S. delegation led by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and U.S. Climate Advisor John Kerry.

In addition, 20,000 more convened in houses scattered along the Davos Promenade to work on a wide range of topics, including global cooperation, economic growth, the climate crisis, and the global development and adoption of AI.

The 54th Economic Forum witnessed intense interest in AI from the nearly 15,000 credentialed journalists. On my first night, I dined at a mountaintop restaurant with a Wall Street Journal editor who was curious about Blaize’s progression, and then dined with 20 other AI company leaders at Journal House on my final night in Davos.

During my stay, I had the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking discussions on the Davos Promenade about the future of AI, responsible AI, and more sustainable, “greener” AI, which is less energy-intensive.

Inside the Congress Center, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Intel Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger engaged in fascinating conversations with WEF Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab. They discussed technology, leading-edge software, semiconductor production, the explosive development and integration of AI, and the trends shaping the year ahead.

Attending or watching these sessions was a particularly enriching experience. These incisive, well-intentioned speakers engaged in our collective exploration of the exciting frontiers of artificial intelligence.

One of the intriguing aspects of Davos is its history of introducing new technologies and innovative companies, like Blaize, to the world. This phenomenon is often referred to as “Davos meets Silicon Valley,” serving as a coming-out party for a new generation of entrepreneurs.

While Silicon Valley was busy commercializing the Internet, inventing cloud computing and social networking, and introducing the smartphone, Davos has always played host to generations of entrepreneurs disrupting all of our lives. In recent years, the Davos Promenade during WEF was filled with Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Web3 houses.

This year’s WEF marked a coming-out for AI, with no less than four AI houses or lounges and large companies like Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Salesforce, and Cloudflare realigning their missions with AI-centric platforms and business offerings. A new generation of upstart entrepreneurs is on the verge of disrupting our lives.

As the week unfolded, I attended scores of lively receptions with other business leaders at AXIOS House, AI House, Emirates House, Qatar House, Saudi Arabia House, NEOM, India House, and Al Hurra’s AI Lounge. The Wall Street Journal House at the Grand Hotel Belvedere Steigenberger hosted me for a small dinner with 20 other AI CEOs, as well as candid interviews with prominent CEOs.

Leaders from Barclays, PepsiCo, and Shell shared their insights on the economic landscape and discussed strategies to address key challenges such as sustainability, innovation, and inclusion. These discussions shed light on the role of corporations in shaping a more equitable and sustainable future.

One of the most anticipated Journal House events was the interview with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Known for his advocacy on climate change, Mr. Gore discussed the urgency of addressing environmental issues and the importance of global cooperation. His insights on sustainable investment and clean technologies provided food for thought, leaving me and others inspired and motivated.

Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, centered her session around the importance of human rights in shaping a just and inclusive society, sharing her experiences and outlining the challenges we face in safeguarding human rights. She emphasized the need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders.

Attending the 2024 World Economic Forum was an immersive experience that exposed me to a plethora of perspectives from leaders working towards a better, more inclusive future. Bringing together like-minded CEOs, influential personalities, and experts provided a platform for engaging discussions on pressing global challenges.

Davos has a profound impact on how we perceive and tackle global challenges. The discussions on AI strategies were engaging and thought-provoking, designed to deliver transformative change and purpose-led growth in dynamic, fast-paced corporate environments. I learned that the importance of trust, ethics, forging strong relationships, and purpose-led leadership will be the key to building a better AI future.

In my next two blogs, I will delve more deeply into my week at Davos, highlighting my participation in panels at peripheral events where we discussed building a more responsible and sustainable AI for the world.

Dinakar Munagala is the co-founder and CEO of Blaize, based in El Dorado Hills, CA.