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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Weapons of automated destruction

In April 2018, the Robotic Complex Breach Concept demonstration was conducted by troops from the United States and the United Kingdom at a base in southern Germany. Autonomous weapons were deployed to perform a variety of tasks, including a remote-controlled breaching of a mock-up enemy position. “U.S. military replaces soldiers with robots in first-ofits-kind training exercise,” read an April 2018 Newsweek headline.

The episode made clear that artificial intelligence and robotics are already widespread in the warfare industry, and that their applications will continue to grow. Dileep George, co-founder of Vicarious, and Marek Rosa, CEO and CTO of Good AI, both manage companies that aim to develop human-level AI. In the midst of an increasing technological arms race, the two entrepreneurs give their perspective on what the future of war will look like, and whether the unavoidable transformations in the job of soldiers will be for better or for worse.

Machines making decisions?

Any technology has both positive and negative effects. As a society, “we figure out the best ways to apply it,” George says. However, the Indian researcher has his doubts when it comes to lethal autonomous weapons: “I do not think it is an idea that we should rush into without a lot of thinking,” he says.

He is not alone. In 2017, 116 leaders in tech companies from 26 different countries signed an open letter pressing the United Nations to ban the use of “killer robots” in warfare. Marek Rosa was among them. Nonetheless, he knows it is a trend that cannot be stopped because of the socalled security dilemma: States are scared that if they do not build such technology fast, somebody else will. Still, the Slovak entrepreneur insists, good uses of AI can “save soldiers’ lives by not putting them in physical danger in the first place.”

Soldiers of the future

George and Rosa agree that the work of soldiers as we know it is about to come to an end. Military technology is already enhancing human capacities, and shortly warfighters will be able to make split-second decisions with the help of artificial intelligence and augmented reality toolkits. “The individual will still make the decisions, but will be provided with researched information that will help them be more accurate,” George explains.

A widespread argument against automated weapons goes like this: By saving lives on one side of the conflict, you are probably killing more people behind enemy lines. George believes this reasoning is counterintuitive. “War has always been about the advantage of one side over the other,” he responds. In fact, AI can reduce the number of casualties by coldly analysing the battlefield, without worrying about self-preservation “If the emotional decision factor on the field is removed, maybe things become safer,” argues George.

And while Rosa agrees that weaponised robots with the capacity to determine when to shoot are not a good idea, “even people are not that good at deciding who to kill.” For him, it is important to distinguish between using artificial intelligence to attack, killing as many people as possible, and using it to limit casualties both on the civilian and enemy sides. “AI can also help soldiers do the latter, and then it would actually be good for everyone,” he says. Most of these technologies already exist. However, their developers still cannot guarantee predictability and zero-failure functionality, and there is still a way to go before they can extensively be used in the battlefield.

The good guys’ responsibility

Could AI still be used the wrong way in warfare? Undoubtedly, as the technology becomes cheaper and more accessible, it can end up in the wrong hands. AI can also be hacked and reprogrammed. Terrorism or other threats might even grow. “Once we let it out, it may be hard to control,” says George.

As AI experts and entrepreneurs, George and Rosa feel a certain responsibility to reduce the risk that technology might bring. Good AI even started a challenge for its workers  offering prizes for those who submit proposals on how to avoid a race. And, of course, they both work to raise awareness, by participating in the St. Gallen Symposium and other events. One burning question is how open researchers in the field should be about their discoveries. According to Rosa, cooperation is always more beneficial than  competition, and that is a way to reduce conflict and risks.

On the other hand, a report titled “The Malicious Side of Artificial Intelligence” was released in February 2018 by multiple respected researchers from the US and the UK. With the aim of prevention and mitigation, the document suggested, among many other things, not spreading research broadly until the associated risks have been assessed. It’s an approach that gives George pause: “Not putting ideas out there is going to kill innovation rather than control the bad guys.”

Far from now

As weapons become faster and more effective, Rosa imagines a future without human soldiers. War itself will be reimagined, he says: Instead of machines killing people or other machines, confrontations will be more about information, because it is a much more efficient way to fight.

That’s the optimistic view. For a pessimist, the full mechanisation of war is a grim prospect. For example, without soldiers there might be fewer worries about military action. “When a person is included in the loop, the empathy that they will have for other human beings becomes part of the equation of controlling any conflict,” George says. “Removing that empathy from the conflict is a disastrous decision.”

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