Susheel Koul: Reasons for optimism at Davos

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Susheel-KoulThere were plenty of discussions about Britain and Brexit at Davos, especially with the appearance of Prime Minister Theresa May. Britain’s former Prime Minister David Cameron was also present, making a speech at a PwC dinner that struck a positive note.

What I’ve observed over the past few days is that there remains a cautious sense of optimism for 2017. Clients and investors are looking to grow at the same pace as they did in 2016, even while acknowledging the challenges posed by a hard Brexit and a Trump administration.

From macro to machines

There was much anticipation about the potential of robots, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR). I was fascinated by the demonstration of SARA (Socially Aware Robot Assistant) created by Carnegie Mellon University. It’s a robot that interacts with humans using socially aware artificial intelligence. ‘She’ is able to undertake social reasoning such as carrying out a conversation with a user to seek information. I can imagine the many opportunities to use SARA within the real estate industry.


Another field to be optimistic about is education. I heard how technology can aid the training of teachers and level the playing field in learning so children of both genders will get more equal opportunities to access knowledge. In Kenya, Kio Kit tablets, designed to be used in rural areas, have changed the way children learn. It’s really exciting to think about how these applications of technology could help to narrow the opportunity and pay gaps between men and women in the future.

What is unknown is always daunting, whether it is Brexit or the impacts of technology, but therein lie the opportunities for reinventing what we had previously known. Just ask SARA.