10 Break-Out Sessions

  • Time: 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

A Demographic Revolution: Young India Takes Charge (with All India Management Association)
Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, OYO Rooms
Pranjal Sharma (Topic Leader), Economic Analyst, Advisor and Author, India

India is undergoing its economic, technological and demographic transition simultaneously. An old country is becoming youthful and adventurous with the passage of time. Young Indians like OYO founder Ritesh Agarwal are quietly taking charge of Indian ethos by becoming icons of audacious aspirations and tangible proofs of its potential, spawning startups that are becoming most valuable and famous than many legacy companies. How can young revolutionaries find ways to carry the older generation of investors, regulators, workers and consumers with them and what can other economies and founders learn from India’s momentous transition?

Collaborative Advantage Across Generations: Reflecting on the SGS Experience (ISC Alumni)
Former Members of the International Students' Comittee
Christoph Loos (Topic Leader), Chief ­Executive ­Offi­cer, Hilti AG
Vivian Bernet (Topic Leader), Head of the Organising Committe, International Students' Comittee
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For over 50 years teams of student have volunteered to organise the St. Gallen Symposium. They have written countless invitations, met thousands of partners, and welcomed some of the most important personalities of their time on stage. Together with former members of the ISC we will reflect on the St. Gallen Symposium experience of cross-generational dialogue and collaboration, the lessons they have learned for their lives and on how the symposium has evolved. This session is organised together with ISC Alumni.

Collective Genius? Cultivating Creativity in the Arts and Beyond
Susan Goldsworthy, Affiliate Professor of Leadership, Communications and Organizational Change, IMD Business School
Gerry Hofstetter, Light Artist & Film Producer Hofstetter Marketing
Javiera Estrada, Artist
Tatjana Rupp (Topic Leader), Member of the International Students' Committee

As the need for innovation is growing, the routinisation of well-structured creative processes within organizations is key for concurrent value creation. Prof. Susan Goldsworthy of IMD, this year's St. Gallen Symposium artist Javiera Estrada and Light Artist Gerry Hofstetter will discuss the role of collaboration in the creative process. Together, and in conversation with the audience, they’ll explore the way collaboration can drive creativity in various organisational contexts, and, on the other hand, the role of introversion and lone contemplation in creating something new.

Connecting Business with Purpose: The Potential of Skills-Based Volunteering
Curdin Duschletta, Head Community Impact Switzerland & Foundations, UBS
Christopher Jarvis, Executive Director, RWInstitute
Prof. Amanda Shantz (Topic Leader), MBA Director and Professor of Management, University of St.Gallen

Many employee volunteering and giving programs are presented as an employee perk, similar to casual Fridays or a team-building event. But treating workplace giving and volunteering this way fails to fully capitalise on the great potential of such programs: to foster employee personal growth, and address key societal challenges. The panel will particularly explore the potential of skills-based volunteering, its benefits, and the unique challenges that arise when moving from merely transactional volunteering to something far more transformative.

Financing the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs
Patrick Zhong, Founding Managing Partner, M31 Capital
Makram Azar, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Full Circle Capital
Prof. Julia Binder (Topic Leader), Professor of Sustainable Innovation and Business Transformation, IMD Business School

The investment landscape over the next twenty years will be radically different from previous generations. While there appears to be greater access to capital, there also appears to be much more volatility and debt with no clear dominant financing mechanism. Entrepreneurs, VC, Private Equity, and banks will have to find new ways to work together to create growth and stimulate innovation. How can investors and entrepreneurs better collaborate and find mutually beneficial agreements that balance risk and return?

Hacking the Fashion & Luxury Watchmaking Industry towards more Sustainability (with Condé Nast College)
Martina Bonnier, Editor-In-Chief, Vogue Scandinavia
Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO, Omega S.A
Carmen Jenny, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, CLOTHESfriends AG
Johannes Reponen (Topic Leader), Director of Post-Graduate Programmes; Academic Affairs; Research & Knowledge Exchange, Condé Nast College

The fashion industry accounts for 10% of humanity’s annual carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. For long, the fashion and luxury watchmaking industry drove, together with the fashion media industry, unsustainable dynamics in the sector: generating more and more demand through an artificial cycle of new collections and seasonal trends. Businesses’ marketing, media as well as influencers thereby create a constant longing and demand for their products. How can designers, fashion houses and publishers exit this vicious cycle and, collaboratively, drive the transition towards more sustainable and ethical fashion and luxury watchmaking?

M100 Sanssouci Colloquium@St. Gallen: Media’s New Power: More Impact Through Collaborative Journalism
Mathias Müller von Blumencron, Journalist, Member of the Board, Tagesanzeiger and Advisory Board Member M100 Sanssouci Colloquium
Joanna Krawczyk, Chairwoman, Leading European Newspaper Alliance
Paul Radu, Investigative Journalist, Co-Founder OCCRP
Astrid Frohloff (Topic Leader), TV Presenter and Journalist, Advisory Board Member M100 Sanssouci Colloquium

Media diversity, freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Europe are currently under threat. Journalists and independent media companies are increasingly joining forces across borders to respond to such challenges as well as to be able to continue to offer independent quality journalism in the future. This session will identify learnings from new media partnerships such as the Leading European Newspaper Alliance (LENA) and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) to identify how media can most effectively work together.

Democratizing Access to the next Generation of Technology and Innovation: Communities and Radical Transformation
Gina Loften, Member of the Board of Trustees, TIAA
Luzius Meisser, Chairman, Bitcoin Suisse
Tycho Onnasch, General Manager, Trust Machines
Shuo Chen (Topic Leader), General Partner, IOVC

Technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship are key drivers of the modern economy and social mobility. Given their importance, we should strive to improve accessibility to tech, education and entrepreneurship across all backgrounds. Creating open and inclusive communities, especially with tech is important to accomplishing this goal, but it is easier said that done. Simultaneously, a third iteration of the internet – Web3 – has the potential to radically transform the internet of things and reduce barriers to access. How can these forces be effectively harnessed and directed for the benefit of all people and move the world forward?

Varieties of Tech Capitalism: Europe's Approach to Innovation and Regulation in a Global Context
Julian Teicke, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, wefox
Lisa-Marie Fassl, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Female Founders
Christoph Keese (Topic Leader), Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer, hy

Over the past decades, the tech sector, especially the internet of things, has become a central component of modern economies. Trying to catch up with the exponential pace of technological development, the US, China, and Europe are crafting rules of the game on digital markets. What are the emerging characteristic differences between regulatory regimes of digital markets, in the US, Europe and beyond, and how do they balance innovation and regulation? In light of strategic competition over tech dominance between the US and China, what are the opportunities and challenges for Europe in particular?

Changed for Good? Engaging with the New World of Work
Petra von Strombeck, Chief Executive Officer, New Work SE
Jean-Christophe Deslarzes, Chair of the Board, Adecco Group
Nat Ware, Founder & CEO Forte
Prof. Heike Bruch (Topic Leader), Director, Institute for Leadership and Human Resources Management, University of St. Gallen
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The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world of work forever. The fast and widespread adoption of remote work and an ever-increasing concern of employees with purpose and meaning on their job have intensified the war for talents. Reaching out to and concurrently engaging employees is key for businesses across sectors and regions. What learnings can be drawn from the pandemic as regards our approach to work? Has the world of work changed for the better? And what role does leadership culture and a new approach to hiring play going forward?

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Healthy Skepticism Instead of Blind Trust

The young leaders surveyed for this year’s Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow Report call on their own generation to do more to enable the ethical and inclusive use of new technologies.

From gene modification to nanotechnology and geoengineering, increasingly high hopes as well as dangers are associated with new technologies. This ambivalence is exemplified by two recently published books. On the one hand, in “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” (2021), Bill Gates pragmatically lays out the most promising technological fixes for the climate crisis. Interestingly and maybe unintentionally, the metaphor of “Spaceship Earth,” often employed by climate activists to highlight planetary boundaries, may also stimulate the quest for technocentric solutions.

On the other hand, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Kolbert takes a critical stand in “Under a White Sky” (2021), whose title refers to the potential alteration of the spectrum of light by injecting sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere to offset global warming. In her “book about people trying to solve problems created by people trying to solve problems,” she provides many examples of how technological interventions to counter human-made damages to nature have caused new problems, necessitating new fixes. Overreliance on technological fixes may only buy us little time and lead to a constant need for new fixes.

That also young, tech-savvy people are skeptical of techno-optimism can be seen in responses to Elon Musk’s recent announcement of a $100 million prize for the best carbon capture technology on Twitter (Clifford, 2021). Many came up with the same simple solution and posted a picture: A tree.

Although this distrust of technology as a problem solver for all human challenges is meaningful and important, the discussion about the use of its capabilities is as well. Solely relying on new technologies to fix things instead of leaving our comfort zone and changing our mindset and behavior may prove an illusion, but ignoring technological potential is not an alternative. How do the Leaders of Tomorrow surveyed for this year’s Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow Report – a collaboration of the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions (NIM) and the St. Gallen Symposium – judge the role of technology?

A majority of 62% of the Leaders of Tomorrow believe that new technologies have the potential to solve at least some of humanity’s pressing problems. However, most are not completely convinced, but only cautiously optimistic. A total of 45% “tend to agree,” while only 17% “completely agree” with the statement “New technologies will soon be able to solve many of humanity’s pressing problems.”

While for some Leaders of Tomorrow, hope clearly prevails, others also express serious concerns. “As we‘ve seen in the pandemic, the only limit to innovation is dedication”, says Kiera O’Brien, a policy entrepreneur from the United States. “Similar advances in medicine hold a lot of promise, as do clean and green technologies for decarbonizing our economy”, she adds. For Seiya Kato, an M&A advisor from Japan, the question of technology’s contribution to solving humanity’s most pressing problems is more ambiguous: “It is interesting to see new technologies solve a social issue. However, at the same time, they tend to create new challenges. For example, the internet solved many problems and increased the efficiency of how people communicate, but created new problems like cybersecurity. Then, new technologies come into play and try to solve cybersecurity issues. The consequence would be that there will be always a problem, and this sequence never ends.”

Criticism of Their Own Generation

The Leaders of Tomorrow are critical of their own generation when it comes to new technologies. As with social media before, the Leaders of Tomorrow condemn shortcomings in their own generation’s approach toward new technologies. Once again, their peers reap the most criticism for their handling of fake news. A total of 75% either fully or partially agree with the statement “My generation does not do enough to combat the effects of fake facts amplified by new technologies.” A total of 66% confirm a lack of commitment to ethical standards in new technologies (“My generation does not put enough emphasis on ethical standards in new technologies”) and 59% criticize a too naive and trusting attitude toward artificial intelligence (“My generation is not critical enough of new technologies such as artificial intelligence”).

Measures to Enhance Digital Trust

The potential and actual impact of technologies on society depends not only on its capabilities but also on the level of acceptance. So how can “digital trust” be built and expanded? It is a matter of two dimensions: On the one hand, trust in the effectiveness and functioning of the technology itself, and on the other hand, trust in the norms and rules under which the technologies are used. To put it more concretely: Even if all machine processes work well, people might suspect that they are subject to the mercy of some uncontrolled power and unpredictable masterminds and will not trust applications.

To get the Leaders of Tomorrow’s perspective on how to enhance confidence in technology, we provided them with a list of initiatives and (potential) legislation that might (or might not) encourage trust in new technologies. We wanted to know how urgent and effective each of these would be seen in boosting trust in tech.

Transparency is once again the most important criterion when it comes to trust building. In the context of technology, this means providing easy access to information about how one’s data is used. A total of 49% of the Leaders of Tomorrow find this to be extremely urgent, and a further 33% see it as necessary. The second pillar, rated almost as highly, is education – in the sense of providing a better understanding of the underlying processes of new technologies. The measure ”Enhancing education on emerging technologies to make people aware of their benefits and risks” is considered very urgent by 48% and necessary by 34%. In contrast, least important, both in urgency and necessity, are the dismantling of powerful big tech companies and a mandatory commitment of programmers to act only for the common good. The other four proposed measures were ranked somewhere in between. These measures involve, in descending order of their rated urgency, independent supervisory authorities for regulating Big Tech (rated urgent by 35% and necessary by 34%), global agreements on rules (28% and 34%), involving marginalized groups in AI design to prevent biases (27% and 32%), and the extension of systems to identify potential social biases of AI (22% and 34%). To put it in a nutshell: To  strengthen trust in technology, the Leaders of Tomorrow put most emphasis on empowering individual responsibility, transparency and supervision.

Perceived Trustworthiness of AI

We already talked about two basic components of trust: competence and goodwill. Both components are relevant in private relationships as well as for trust in institutions and organizations – in other words, in all relationships in which people are involved on both sides. But trust in technology is different from trust in people. Technology has no consciousness and no emotions – neither good nor bad. Ideally, it is just reliable and objective. Theoretically, this lack of feelings could be trust-promoting, as machines do not possess an inherent inclination for moral evaluation, rivalry, vanity, or revenge.

In practice, however, matters are more complicated. Examples abound of discriminating algorithms – against minorities, against ethnic groups, against women. For example, Apple’s algorithms associated with their newly launched credit cards in 2019 sparked an inquiry (Vigdor, 2019). The system had offered men much higher credit limits than women, even if they were married, sharing all their bank accounts. And in 2020, Twitter had to apologize for racial bias in its image-cropping algorithm that is supposed to select the most interesting part of an image. Users had found out that the algorithm systematically preferred white over black faces (Hern, 2020). Obviously, algorithms can learn prejudices from humans.

With all these arguments and examples in mind, it is clear that dealing with AI is a very complex and emotionally charged issue. However, AI has already replaced some of the work and tasks of human beings, including decision-making in many economic sectors, and could replace human beings in many more. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is developing rapidly and is capable of more and more tasks. In which domains do the Leaders of Tomorrow trust AI’s capabilities, and in which do they want to keep relying on humans?

61% – thus the majority of Leaders of Tomorrow – would, as passengers, rather rely on AI than on a human driver. However, this is the only majority in favor of AI in the competition ”human versus machine” in this survey. Parity exists, at least, on the topic of law enforcement. Automatic monitoring and punishment of violations (e.g., in traffic) would be handed over to AI by at least half of the Leaders of Tomorrow. For all other listed tasks and responsibilities, humans are preferred, albeit with varying degrees of preference.

These results are also supported by recent experimental evidence. In a series of experiments, Berkeley Dietvorst and his colleagues (Dietvorst, Simmons & Massey, 2015) observed that people tend to trust human judgment over algorithms, leading them to coin the term algorithm aversion. In particular, people lose confidence in algorithms when they observe them making a mistake. Even when an algorithm still consistently beats human judgment, people then tend to prefer to go with their gut. It seems that when it comes to AI, perfection is expected, and errors are not forgiven.

The Leaders of Tomorrow express the lowest level of trust in AI in the area of psychotherapy. Humans are also trusted much more when it comes to jurisdiction. Recruitment is the third topic with little approval and should preferably not be handed over to AI according to the Leaders of Tomorrow. What do the domains for which AI skepticism is largest have in common? All are traditionally characterized by direct, personal interaction and a high need for empathy, which sometimes (for better or worse) requires an intuitive expertise that goes beyond the objective data points provided. Obviously, many doubt that AI has the capabilities required for these tasks.

And indeed, the so-called algorithm aversion seems to be task-dependent (Castelo, Bos & Lehmann, 2019). People seem especially reluctant to trust algorithms for tasks that require intuition and empathy (e.g., in one experiment people trusted algorithms more for financial guidance than for dating advice). This finding suggests that in people’s perception, AI may still lack the social and emotional intelligence relevant in domains where the need for such qualities is high and where there are therefore no straightforward criteria for evaluation. The Leaders of Tomorrow seem to share this view, as some comments show.

However, confidence in AI may well increase in the near future. Once AI manages to bridge the uncanny valley – imperfect resemblance to humans leading to eerie feelings and rejection – our relationship with this technology may change. Research has shown that anthropomorphism, the attribution of human characteristics to a non-human agent, can predict responsibility and trust placed on the agent as well as increase social influence by the agent (Waytz, Cacioppo & Epley, 2010). Thus, human appearance and behavior, such as responsive movements and natural voice, of AI interfaces may increase our trust and help overcome barriers to adoption, broadening the domains for which applications are embraced.

From a practical point of view, different levels of acceptance of AI will require different measures to increase trust. While driverless cars and automated law enforcement appear to be ready for testing prototypes with exemplary character, AI-based medical diagnoses and chatbots in service management may need more research to improve user experience. For AI-based recruitment, jurisdiction, and psychotherapy, on the other hand, much deeper research will certainly be needed to understand the reasons for barriers and ways to overcome them.

But whatever is possible in the future, AI will not be able to fully replace face-to-face personal interaction for psychological well-being, social calibration and human trust – and it is questionable

whether this is something to strive for in the first place. So instead of just optimizing the human-likeness of machines for interaction, we must not neglect fostering humanity and community between people.

Read the full Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow Report here for all findings and detailed analysis.

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