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World Economic Forum Launches San Francisco Tech Policy Center

October 10, 2016

The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CaliforniaThe Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
The J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference is underway in San FranciscoPhotograph by DEA / W. BUSS De Agostini/Getty Images

The World Economic Forum, the Swiss-based group that sponsors that annual Davos gathering of world leaders, is opening a San Francisco office to explore policy and regulatory questions surrounding new technologies such as artificial intelligence, automated vehicles and blockchain.

The office, called the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, will have 50-60 people working on about 10 different projects by the end of the next year, Murat Sonmez, a one-time Silicon Valley entrepreneur who will lead the effort, said in an interview.

The goal is to develop policy approaches to address the novel issues raised by new technologies, said the member of the forum’s managing board. Many “policies and regulations were written before the Internet was invented. Policy-makers don’t know what to do,” he said.

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About half of the new center’s staff will be full-timers and the rest will include fellows and others from industry, academia and government, Sonmez said.

“Given the accelerating change brought on by innovation, continuous public-private cooperation on a global level is needed more than ever,” Klaus Schwab, founder and chief executive of the forum, said in a statement.

The Word Economic Forum holds regional events around the world and publishes research on the global economy.