11th May 2017
We at Primal Group see profound value in driving a revolutionary transformation in business, one that is geared towards the adoption of innovative and exponential solutions to solve some of the world’s most significant challenges. Attending the 20th Annual Milken Institute Conference over the last week alongside an impressive 4,000 industry leaders across finance, government, agriculture and healthcare, we had the great opportunity to explore the major social and economic challenges facing humanity.
The conference line up of 750 speakers included former President of the U.S. George W. Bush, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, President of the World Bank Taro Aso and Chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase Jamie Dimon. The extensive list of sectors and issues covered throughout the conference ranged from the untapped potential across emerging markets, the deflationary force of technology, the threat and potential of automation, bioscience’s ability to proactively shape human evolution, a global banking system at risk and the global education gap to the incredible benefits of a circular economy. While seemingly exhaustive, this merely scratches the surface.
Despite the incredible variety of topics, three major themes emerged throughout the conference:
Technological Innovation Will Transform Society
Automation, artificial intelligence, digital technology and connectivity are fundamentally changing society, from the way we do business to the way we shop, date and manage healthcare. The societal trends that will shape our lives over the next decade stem from our unprecedented access to information and our increasing ability to utilize computational systems to interpret data and strengthen sectors ranging from financial services, transportation, energy, education and healthcare. In agriculture, innovative organizations such as Netafim, Agriviv and CropX are investing in data analytics and infrastructure to make farm management and irrigation more efficient. Small sensors and drones collect topographic data on their customers’ farms, and then algorithms determine which parts of the land need inputs such as water, pesticides and fertilizers. These technologies have been found to optimize water use and increase crop yields by up to 25%.
The Road to a More Equitable Future
This rapid rate of technological innovation is completely reshaping our economy. Our increased capacity, access and ability around the world has brought entire nations and economies together in trade, and yet the rising inequality between individuals is driving sections of our society further apart. Millions of jobs have been displaced throughout history as a result of technological development. Think back to the last Industrial Revolution, or even last year when Foxconn, the world’s iPhone manufacturer, began replacing 60,000 workers with robots, and has an objective to automize 30% of their workforce by 2020. China purchased 160,000 industrial robots in 2016, a 180% increase from the 57,000 in 2014. Rideshare apps like Uber have even been developing and testing driverless cars in order to integrate them into their service, raising further questions about just how far automation innovation can go. The World Economic Forum has projected that as many as five million manufacturing and service jobs could be displaced by as early as 2020.
Technological innovation fuels the optimism we feel about the future potential of the global economy while at the same time provoking the rise of populism and protectionism. We must therefore begin to drive innovation in a way that benefits everyone. For example, innovations in clean energy are creating jobs within the solar and wind sectors 12x faster than any other. Additionally, new technologies in agriculture, such as precision practices, are empowering farms all around the world. For innovation, the answer is a circular economy that replaces the ‘take, make and dispose’ industrial model and turns it into one that regenerates both natural and capital resources by design.
Making a Positive and Profitable Impact in Business:
Sustainable development in business means investing in safe, reliable infrastructures and innovations that sustain people and drives economic growth in ways that preserve our environment and ensure mutual prosperity. Last year, 193 nations adopted the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end extreme poverty, protect the environment and ensure prosperity for all. Total global financial assets reached $300 trillion in 2016. Only $3.1 trillion (1% of the total) is needed ever year for the next 15 years to meet these SDGs.
The Milken Global Conference convened the most influential people in the world, combining capital, power and influence to catalyze innovation, development and growth. By fixing structural issues in our economy, preempting the challenges of our Fourth Industrial Revolution and solving global food security, we can help ensure a prosperous future for mankind. Primal Group is determined to increase global prosperity by advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs and improve health by driving safe, smart and regenerative agriculture.