⛷️ Notes from a ski resort, 2024 edition
Ubiquitous AI, sanguine Sam and GPT-5
My average step length is about 70cm according to Apple Health. In three days, I took 64,480 steps — 45.1km — trudging around Davos in heavy snow boots. My calves are sore, my ankles stiff, and achilles’ tender.
I certainly put the miles in at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting this January.
Of course, Davos1 isn’t just about walking. It’s about talking.
I spent time with bosses at Microsoft, Alphabet, and Meta, and between 30 - 40 senior executives (by which I mean the CEO or their reports) of firms in pharma, professional services, industrials, banking, and other sectors. To this, there were many conversations with people building AI systems, some remarkably brilliant founders across industry, a smattering of chats with politicians and members of civil society. There was the odd bit of celebrity stardom, too. (Below is Will.I.Am with a well-known author 😉.)
AI was ubiquitous. While the official event, the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, highlighted discussions on climate change, inequality, and geopolitics, AI felt like a key topic. AI was in focus in various fringe events, as well, attracting as many as 80,000 additional people.
I caught up with over a dozen EV members, including Vlad Lukic with whom I shared why I think we’re moving towards the society of AI, a syncretic collective intelligence rather than a single, ever-powerful AI.
This year, blockchain presence was minimal. Instead, numerous AI firms, from large to small, sought to engage with customers and media. Notably, there was a strong presence from Middle Eastern and Indian governments.
For members who want to dig deeper into my Davos insights…
Keep reading this post,
And, join my live briefing for members on Monday, February 5. The sign-up link is in the end note.
The misinformation of existential risk
The conversation around existential risk seemed subdued. There were no significant protests, and the dialogue focused on understanding AI and mitigating risks, mainly misinformation and its potential impact on elections. The tone of discussion around AI felt more adult than elsewhere. The siren song of existential risk rather abated.