Citibeats didn’t wait long to get started in their role as a Technology 2022 Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. Shortly after being selected for this honor, the company headed to their first WEF event: Davos 2022.
This annual summit gathers prominent world leaders to address significant global issues and devise necessary solutions. This year’s theme was “History at a Turning Point: Government Policies and Business Strategies.” Discussing realities such as global warming, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and the Russia-Ukraine War, Davos panelists explored topics such as the twin climate and food crises, building businesses for environmental protection, the role of artificial intelligence (AI), rebuilding trust, and more.
Citibeats Head of Communications Matteo Mezzanotte provides an account of Citibeats’ venture to Davos 2022 with Citibeats Founder and CEO Ivan Caballero:
SATURDAY, MAY 21
Arrival in Switzerland
Beginning the Journey to Davos 2022
‘How can you be sure that you are doing the right thing? Well, that we are doing the right thing?’
‘And, more importantly, how can we make people—the right people, those who are responsible for decisions that affect us all—understand that we are doing something necessary, something for them, something for people?’
These were just some of the questions running through my mind while driving on an empty highway toward the Barcelona airport, in the early (and I mean really early) hours of this mild May morning.
I was supposed to fly to Zurich Airport from Barcelona where I’d meet Ivan, directly coming from his monthly U.S. trip to meet investors and potential partners with Citibeats Chief Technology Officer and ethical AI prophet Abby Seneor.
I was impressed when I saw the airport completely packed with people, especially at that time of the day. For a moment, the two years of the pandemic seemed like a long-forgotten black-and-white picture left in an empty drawer of your grandma’s garret.
(Matteo’s note: yes, we already discussed internally how to compensate for the CO2 impact generated by our trips to Davos, worry not.)
Ivan Caballero at Zurich Airport, en route to Davos 2022.
Once in Zurich, we hired a car and headed towards Davos in our version of “Easy Rider” for social good, full of excitement and expectations for this brand new adventure and hopeful to do our own part in changing the world for the better.
The Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper of AI.
The Swiss natural landscape offered us a refreshing welcome, especially pleasant after the many weeks of high temperatures in Spain: green lawns embellished with flowers, cows pasturing, streams of water, and gorgeous mountains embracing us into the valley of Davos.
The Swiss landscape.
We enjoyed a quick but very tasty dinner in the heart of Davos and then were off to bed in Filisur.
SUNDAY, MAY 22
The Summit Begins
A ‘Home Office’ in Filisur
Although our hotel in the Swiss village of Filisur was not around the corner, it offered fantastic views, and the manager welcomed us to enjoy the sun on his terrace after helping us restore our strengths with a Lucullan breakfast.
A house in typical Engadine style (You were expecting a picture of the breakfast, weren’t you?)
A scene worthy of Twin Peaks.
Not bad as a home-office spot…
The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022
The first day was almost completely dedicated to the official opening of the World Economic Forum, with the Technology Pioneers and Global Innovators Welcome. Once again, a huge thank you to Saemoon Yoon and his team for making all of this possible.
We also had the opportunity to connect with U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Roger Wicker about how policymakers can facilitate a thriving and innovative start-up ecosystem. This meeting was particularly interesting given Citibeats’ consistent involvement with empowering decision-makers to enact more informed, faster, and humanity-centered policies. We strongly believe collaboration with policymakers is necessary to bring humanity back into the decision-making process at any level.
The second half of the day, we networked with the other 2022 Technology Pioneers and had the opportunity to explore how technology can play a fundamental role in the future of humanitarian aid—especially during times of crisis—in an event organized by the Financial Times and Circle, with speakers Andrea Donkor from PayPal, Carla H. from UNICEF, Candace Kelly from Stellar Development Foundation, Jeremy Allaire from Circle, and Rana Foroohar from the Financial Times.
The Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère, venue of The Future of Humanitarian Aid event.
MONDAY, MAY 23
Building Trust & Resilience Amid Crises
Collaborating on Difficult Tasks Ahead
The leitmotiv of the second day’s events was the necessity to rebuild trust in society—in fact, it was also the slogan of Davos 2022.
As indicated in the various sessions, the task at hand is not an easy one.
The last two years of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic compiled with the war in Ukraine significantly undermines stability, cohesion, and hope.
Speakers echoed Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, denouncing the Russian invasion of Ukraine and highlighting the international impact the war will have globally: disrupting the supply chain, for one, with terrible consequences, as too often happens in poorer countries.
The once ‘Russian House’ in Davos now transformed into the Russian War Crimes House.
Other interesting sessions centered around the importance of utilizing data in a responsible way to create a truly inclusive society—one of the core values of Citibeats’ technology—and the role of governments in implementing policies promoting a social economy.
Attending these sessions was a reassuring confirmation that policy- and decision-makers are truly aware of the importance of people’s voices and finding a way to actively collaborate with their citizens. Citibeats can help collect those opinions faster, reduce the noise, and give voice to usually underrepresented citizens, as witnessed in some of our projects with IDB Lab in the Amazon Region, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Including the opinions of citizens in the decision-making process is not only a democratic decision to build a more representative society, but doing so also creates the conditions to grow a new economy with people and human welfare—not just profit—at the heart.
The “Unlocking the Social Economy” session.
Building Resilience Amid Modern Conflicts: Do You Care What Citizens Are Saying?
Understanding citizens’ opinions and needs also empowers decision-makers to build resilience and respond to urgent questions regarding climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and a hazy, struggling economy.
These and other challenges about how to rebuild an already fragile social and economic system were discussed in the panel, “Financing Resilient Economies and Societies session,” with inspiring panelists such as The Wall Street Journal Editor-At-Large Gerard Baker, Manulife President and Chief Executive Officer Roy Gori, World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and McKinsey & Company Global Managing Partner Bob Sternfels. Watch the video of the session here.
“Financing Resilient Economies and Societies” session.
Twin Crises: Climate & Food
We are facing, both, a climate crisis and a food crisis, as explained in the “Conflict, Climate and Food Security: Managing these Complex Risks” panel in the Arctic Basecamp in front of the majestic Berghotel Schatzalp.
“While we are addressing the short-term need, we need to work on the long-term or medium-term issues,” said Arne Cartridge, Special Advisor at Yara International ASA. “At the moment, it's mainly a cost issue in the food crisis. It will become an availability issue… [In] so many areas of the world, you will see impacts of climate change on the capacity to produce, [fewer] inputs and other reasons coming into the market because of logistics, etc. So we are at risk of not producing enough food for the world, and I don't think we really understand the potential consequences of this [...] We have now just a few months ahead of us to solve it. If (we don’t), 2023 will be a bad year for many.”
The Role of Ethical AI
Citibeats also joined the Delivering AI Ethics event co-organized by SwissCognitive, World-Leading AI Network and Imperial College Business School. The session turned out to be the most interactive event of the day becoming a true workshop to define which values should be included in #ethicalAI, how to foster ethical #AI, and how to educate people, governments, and institutions about the necessity of ethics in technology.
Our hope is that next year some of these principles will already be adopted and considered a “must-have” by policy-makers.
Thank you to Imperial College London Honorary Clinical Lecturer Cristina Koppel, SwissCognitive Co-Founder Andy Fitze, and SwissCognitive Co-Founder Dalith Steiger-Gablinger for contributing to the debate around ethics in technology and, in particular, in AI.
“Fostering Ethical AI” workshop.
Purpose & ESG Are Not Interchangeable
ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) has become one of the must-have items on the agenda of private and public companies and organizations—and that is a good sign.
What should be examined is whether that is because of goodwill, or if decision-makers are merely complying with ESG policies because they must. It is likely that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. What is certain is that consumers, employees, investors, and other stakeholders are increasingly demanding and expecting companies and organizations to adopt a sound and provable ESG strategy.
In our conversations with potential clients, we often ask, “How do you measure the ‘S’ in your ESG strategy?” While the answer is rarely simple, Citibeats constantly advocates for the voice of the people to be included in the decision-making processes of companies, institutions, or organizations.
I came across this article that argues purpose and ESG are not interchangeable. Would you add “social revenue” as a driver of your purpose? It’s something to consider.
Nick Studer and Kate Brennan address the audience at the Marsh McLennan dinner.
TUESDAY, MAY 24
Environmental Protection in Business
Building Climate-Minded Entreprises (Beam Me Up, Scotty!)
Day three at Davos was dedicated to some quality time at the SDG tent. First, we joined the session, “When There’s a Will There’s a Way: A Conversation on Building Entreprises for Social & Environmental Outcomes.”
Panelists such as Clarmondial AG Founder and Director Tanja Havemann, Gemini Corporation N.V. CEO Kunaal Patawari, and WWF CEO Thomas Vellacott—as a moderator—discussed the opportunities for hybrid and innovative funding structures and the role of entrepreneurship and innovation in the transition to sustainable societies.
Once again, it was interesting to notice how it is possible to drive business with a purpose other than the obvious commercial interests. Companies need to urgently change their mindsets and embrace the idea that they can do business in a profitable way while supporting social and environmental development.
It is high time—actually, late—to accept that we live in a closed system with limited resources and need a new approach to doing business by learning how our actions could impact small communities, or how we can help local economies grow while preserving their cultural and historical heritage. For instance, Citibeats’ Amazon Report highlights this in reflecting the importance of the apparently anonymous river Napo in the life of the citizens of the Orellana Province in Ecuador.
The SDG Tent: “a place for business with purpose.”
We live in a world of data. However, few truly understand the magnitude and impact of this data on our lives, the world, and—from an environmental standpoint—the huge quantity of energy necessary to process the information.
The panel, “Mitigating Risks and Creating Business Solutions with Environmental Intelligence,” presented a great opportunity to explore how to leverage data technology for the benefit of the planet.
While sitting in the SDG Tent and listening to Gail Whiteman, Gavin Shaddick, Nigel Topping, Peter Bakker, and Julienne Stroeve, I thought: ‘How long? How long will I need to listen to experts, professors, and scientists pointing out the obvious? How long before those who are in charge listen to these experts and do something for real? How long before the interests of a few will be postponed in favor of the well-being of all? Do we really understand that we are destroying our planet?’
The team from Arctic Basecamp shared a visually fantastic and informative update (though, depressing, I must say) about the status of the Arctic. It was a reminder that what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic; it affects us all. From 1986 to 2015, Greenland experienced a rate of ice loss of 4,490,624 liters per second. At the end of the panel, they gave us a small bottle of water: water from Greenland.
Definitely the most precious ‘souvenir’ ever.
Nigel Topping explained that there is a use case for adaptation.
We wrapped up the day at the “Embracing the Stakeholder Paradigm in Latin America” dinner, with World Economic Forum Member of the Executive Committee and Head of Latin America Marisol Argueta, Mastercard Chief Executive Officer Michael Miebach, World Economic Forum Managing Director Olivier M. Schwab, Nubank Founder and Chief Executive Officer David Vélez, Conference of the Parties (COP) Champion for Chile of COP25 High-Level Climate Champions Gonzalo Muñoz Abogabir, United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Executive Secretary (2008-2022) Alicia Bárcena, and others.
The dinner brought together the region's multi-stakeholder leaders to address ESG’s potential to pave the way for Latin America’s long-term development.
Citibeats has always been very active in Latin America and the Caribbean, powering initiatives promoted by IDB Lab such as CivicLytics, a public observatory to understand complex civic issues by listening to the perceptions and concerns of millions of citizens in real time.
The “Embracing the Stakeholder Paradigm in Latin America” dinner.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 25
The Climate System & Ethical AI for All
The Interconnected Climate Problem
Climate change was, needless to say, one of the most discussed topics at Davos 2022.
Probably the most encouraging aspect is that we are now treating climate change as a complex issue alongside the food crisis, migration, war, social and economic development, and gender equality, among other issues. It is a complex system where every piece is connected to another: Solving one issue will certainly help solve others, and not doing anything to solve one problem will likely exacerbate another—for instance, the strong connection between migration and climate change.
At Citibeats, we recently launched our Sustainability Monitor to help policy- and decision-makers understand sustainability and climate change-related trends. As part of our sustainability initiatives, we joined Innovate4Climate, the World Bank Group's flagship climate action event. Directly from Davos, Ivan Caballero joined Citibeats Social Data Analyst Darío García de Viedma, InState Partners President Alex Johnson, and ecosystems builder Rosa Castizo for the workshop, “Social Big Data Analysis and Ethical AI to Boost Governmental Trust and Better Deliver Climate Policies.”
We had the opportunity to exchange ideas about how to put into practice the Leave No One Behind goal and explain the strict correlation between data, sustainability, and climate change.
The video of the workshop is available here with registration.
Innovate4Climate, the World Bank Group's flagship climate action event.
AI for All
Citibeats’ ethical approach to technology is determined by various factors, namely to respect and protect privacy, reduce—especially gender—biases for more representative and inclusive models, and the application for use cases with positive social impact. This last aspect is what embodies the concept of social understanding compared to social listening.
It is always prudent to learn from competitors—especially if these competitors paved the way for social listening and are substantial tech companies such as Palantir. The session, “A Conversation with Alex Karp, CEO of Palantir Technologies," offered insights into Palantir and Karp’s leadership.
The video of the session is available here.
Alex Karp, CEO of Palantir.
Citibeats also joined the “Responsible AI for Societal Gains” session, with speakers such as Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications of Office of the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates Omar Al Olama, University of California Berkeley Professor of Computer Science Stuart Russell, BenevolentAI Chief Executive Officer Joanna Shields, and The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation President and Trustee Vilas Dhar.
At Citibeats, we love technology—but beyond this, we love ethical technology. AI is a tool, not inherently bad nor good. It is the way it is used that can make it good or bad.
The challenge is to create an ethical framework to use technology—and AI in particular—in a responsible way, for social good and to support the evolution of humankind. At Citibeats, we are working toward that goal.
Watch the session here.
Artificial intelligence is a means to an end.
Finally, we would like to thank the Karnataka delegation for receiving us. The meeting with the delegation was particularly pleasant and relaxed, and we had the opportunity to describe how we are using data for social good and how our Social Risk Monitor is helping governments tackle key areas such as sustainable development, natural disaster response, social policy, food security, and more.
Meeting with the Karnataka delegation.
THURSDAY, MAY 26
The Return Home & The ‘Right’ Thing
And That’s a Wrap!
It was time to pack our things, say goodbye to the manager, leave the hotel, and stop in Davos for a few last rounds of meetings.
There was still time for attending another panel, “Global Risks in an Era of Turbulence,” with speakers such as ESM (European Stability Mechanism) Managing Director Klaus Regling, Emeritus Professor of War Studies Society KCL Lawrence Freedman, SINAI Technologies Chief Executive Officer Maria Carolina Fujihara, Minister of Finance of Ministry of Finance Malaysia Tengku Zafrul Aziz, and World Health Organization (WHO) Board Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health Helen E. Clark.
One of the reasons why we always stress the importance of including citizens’ voices in the decision-making process is because, given the velocity of how things change today, decision-makers face two serious risks: First, they cannot afford to ignore what people are saying and the huge amount of data created daily. (Given that is a really huge amount, it is humanly impossible to process all that information, rendering AI technology necessary.) Secondly, they need to act as fast as possible to avoid any problems to scale.
Citibeats’ ethical AI is a great example of how governments and organizations can respond earlier to citizens’ biggest concerns and be prepared for global risks before they have a severe impact on societies, economies, and businesses.
The video of the session is available here.
Last panel at Davos 2022. See you next year!
Goodbye, Our Friends, but not Farewell
Sadly, we could not join the other Technology Pioneers for the farewell lunch, but there will other occasions. In fact, we are also traveling to San Francisco for the Global Technology Governance Retreat, represented by Citibeats CTO Abby Seneor.
We returned from Davos with our heads full of ideas and hearts pumping with enthusiasm and willingness to share what we learned, to continue the conversations had during these days, and to prove that it is true that we can really change the world for the better.
It’s not the typical naivete of the rookie, but rather the feeling that now it is the moment. We have the knowledge, we have the technology, and there is a will to improve our society.
Driving back home late at night, tired but vigil, I realized that the trip to Davos helped us be sure that we are doing the right thing. The eyes met and hands shaken confirmed that we are doing something necessary, something for them, something for people. Good night and good luck.
‘Country roads, take me home.
Ivan’s new home office in the Swiss Alps.