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The first three sessions at BoF VOICES 2022 tackled issues inside the fashion industry and far beyond. Speakers explored the climate crisis and accusations of corporate greenwashing; the potential of artificial intelligence and the associated ethical implications; the war in Ukraine and growing economic uncertainty and inequality across the globe and Gen-Z’s rising anger over these issues and how to start to fix them.
“At this event, fashion is often quite marginal,” said BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks during the live recording of “The Best of VOICES With Tim Blanks.” “It’s in our minds, but what we’re talking about are the world’s big, definitive issues.”
Blanks was joined by VOICES speaker Ziad Ahmed, chief executive of JUV Consulting and Stephanie Simon, the former head of community at Clubhouse, to reflect on the highlights from the first two days of talks and panel discussions.
- The climate crisis is the cloud that hangs over everything, from technology to the economy. But rather than waiting on private companies to create change, “it seems much more straightforward to mandate the targets that we’re going to need in order to ensure progress from a climate change perspective,” said Simon.
- The potential of artificial intelligence is limitless, but humans can help control how the world of AI unfolds. “We teach AI by example,” said Blanks. “By being ethical, kind human beings, AI learns to be ethical and kind.”
- While the younger generation is interested in new technologies, there’s also a trepidation about the companies and people creating these innovations and a desire to upend past practices. “There’s often an assumption that Gen-Z is leading the charge towards innovation,” said Ahmed. “Broadly speaking, that’s not really the case. A lot of young people are really sceptical and critical about our own relationships to technology.”
- To see change, today’s stakeholders need to bring the next generation into the decision-making process — and begin to relinquish control. “The solutions to the problems that we are facing exist,” said Ahmed. “The question is if the people who currently have the reins will give them up.”
- BoF VOICES 2022: Finding Optimism in an Unsteady World: From the Ukraine War to the climate crisis to the legacy of the pandemic, speakers including CNN’s Clarissa Ward, Mercy Corps’ Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, Goldman Sachs’ Tim Ingrassia and Google X’s former chief business officer Mo Gawdat discussed the uncertainty gripping the world — and why there’s cause for hope.