Grasping the opportunities and managing the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution require a thriving civil society deeply engaged with the development, use, and governance of emerging technologies. However, how have organizations in civil society been responding to the opportunities and challenges of digital and emerging technologies in society? What is the role of civil society in using these new powerful tools or responding to Fourth Industrial Revolution challenges to accountability, transparency, and fairness?
Following interviews, workshops, and consultations with civil society leaders from humanitarian, development, advocacy and labor organizations, the white paper addresses:
-- How civil society has begun using digital and emerging technologies
-- How civil society has demonstrated and advocated for responsible use of technology
-- How civil society can participate and lead in a time of technological change
-- How industry, philanthropy, the public sector and civil society can join together and invest in addressing new societal challenges in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The described use cases and responses to digital and emerging technologies point to three cross‑cutting considerations for civil society readiness in an emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution:
1. Civil society organizations face pressure to play a diversity of roles in the technological and institutional context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
2. Civil society organizations must resolve a range of tensions to responsibly play these roles and respond to the governance and use of emerging technologies
3. Civil society organizations need to make critical investments to lead by example and model key elements of a human-centered Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The White Paper is part of the Preparing Civil Society for the Fourth Industrial Revolution initiative led by the World Economic Forum in partnership with social sector organizations.