Inclusive growth can help address tech disruption, say leaders

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann participating in a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum's summer meeting in Dalian, on June 27, 2017.
Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann participating in a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum's summer meeting in Dalian, on June 27, 2017.ST PHOTO: LIM YAN LIANG

DALIAN • Even as countries are bracing themselves for the coming wave of disruption wrought by new technology, the world's elite said yesterday that they are optimistic it can be a force for good.

Leaders and industry heads are gathered in Dalian this week for the World Economic Forum's (WEF) June meeting, with this year's theme of "achieving inclusive growth in the fourth industrial revolution".

The fourth industrial revolution refers to the way that advances such as artificial intelligence and robots are upending the way humans live and work, said WEF executive chairman Klaus Schwab, who coined the term. "In the future, it will no longer be the large fish which eats the small fish; it will be the fast fish that eats the slow ones," Professor Schwab said yesterday at the opening of the forum.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann echoed this point at a panel discussion, where she said advanced manufacturing technologies are helping Singapore overcome its land and resource constraints.

Dow Chemical, for instance, said that by partnering Singapore, it developed reverse osmosis membranes that use 30 per cent less energy than older membranes.

But Ms Sim also said the Singapore Government has been investing in schemes to help Singaporeans upskill, reskill and change industries as it recognises how disruptive new technologies can be.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also said yesterday that Beijing will pursue inclusive growth. "My hope is that the slower fish will be helped to speed up and catch up with the fast fish, while the fast fish can look back and help the slow fish," he said.

Lim Yan Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'Inclusive growth can help address tech disruption, say leaders'. Print Edition | Subscribe