"Empathize with different cultures and different realities, and absorb as much information as you can to generate the change you desire in your communities." Iván Chayer and Martina Souto, co-directors of the 2023 edition, opened the first day of the South American Business Forum with these words.
The Buenos Aires Institute of Technology (ITBA) also welcomed all participants: Juan Vidaguren, Dean of the School of Management and Technology, highlighted the value of shaping leaders who can change the world, just as ITBA does. Finally, Mauro Guevara welcomed participants and speakers on behalf of the City Government, extending a warm welcome to Buenos Aires.
By creating an international community, it is your task to build bridges of understanding.
The SABF Blog's journalistic team was at the event, gathering testimonials and highlighting moments of the day. And eating pastries, needless to say.
A Matter of Trust
The opening whistle of SABF 2023 was given by the plenary session of Dalia Mogahed, a specialist in Middle Eastern affairs selected by American President Barack Obama as an advisor to his government.
Dalia provided us with keys to survive what she called the age of wisdom, in which we are hyperconnected but deeply fragmented. Among them, she highlighted the blind hope to face challenges, negotiating on the basis of the core values that make up each of our societies, and cooperation between cultures.
Diverse ecosystems are the ones that thrive in nature.
José Luis Roces closed the session with a presentation on leadership and trust. Often, the effectiveness of implementing policies, both at the macro and micro level, depends on the trust we have in them. In his many years of experience, José Luis pointed out that one of the problems with leadership is believing that accessing a position of authority automatically makes you a recipient of trust.
In an aspirational model, which society needs to make the necessary changes, trust and aspiration are required. Because with a model based solely on authority, it is impossible to achieve it.
The Price of Privacy
Under this theme, Daniel Leslie—already a lifelong member of the South American Business Forum—spoke about the right to privacy. He began with reflections on identity and how it is increasingly defined by the digital realm. When discussing privacy, he also presented a dichotomy between anonymity, which respects the right to privacy (particularly important in authoritarian regimes) and accountability, which fosters more trust among us.
Societies that value privacy the most are often those that have been deprived of it at some point. Others may trade privacy for security.
Pablo Segura talked about privacy as an opportunity to create value: organizations should not see it as an obligation to comply with regulation but rather as a tool for benefiting both customers and the organization itself.
Joaquín Sánchez Mariño spoke about borders and trust. He sees borders and lack of trust as interconnected. While borders may represent divisions, they can also be containers of trust within societies.
Even though borders may not physically exist and can be seen as slopes of infinite halves, border conflicts still claim lives.
María Eugenia Di Paola emphasized the importance of collectively facing global crises. Regarding climate change, she highlighted the need to consider not only economic factors but also generate a positive impact on the environment.
It is crucial to involve the community in these efforts, bridging the gap between local and global concerns, such as the climate crisis, pollution, and social inequality.
Claudia Scherer-Effosse, the French Ambassador to Argentina, began by questioning the need for diplomats in a world where information can be transmitted instantly. She believes that in diplomacy, it is essential to decipher local specificities to seek synergy and enable co-participation.
Human Singularity: an Enigma
The speakers presentations concluded with a session discussing the qualities that make humans unique.
Tomás Balmaceda reflected on what it means to be intelligent. According to him, we use mentalist terms to describe what technology does. Technology attempts to mimic subjectivity.
Kamila Ciok discussed how the sense of aboriginal community enhances leadership. Aboriginal people see the environment as an integral part of themselves.
In their perspective, there is no such thing as linear thinking, but that's because there is no such thing as linear thinking.
Finally, Esther Rizo stated that talking about singularity is talking about stories. Where do the stories that shape our present come from? If there are multiple human singularities, the world is diverse and interconnected.
It doesn't make sense to predict how AI will change the economy 10 years ahead, when ChatGPT gained 100 million users in just 2 months, a feat that took Spotify 10 years to achieve. Such transformations can happen suddenly and unpredictably.
The SABF Blog's journalistic team conducted an exit poll to gather the participants' sentiments about Day 1 of the event. Here are some of the testimonies:
The entire day left me with a feeling of responsibility for the future. How do we want it to look? How do we create it?
I was deeply impacted by the realization that topics like privacy and artificial intelligence are intertwined with profound geopolitical and economic issues. They go beyond mere regulations and technologies for businesses.
I loved being able to engage with the speakers during the coffee break and continue the discussions outside the auditorium. Other conferences I've attended didn't allow for such opportunities.
The day concluded with Diego Luzuriaga's conclusions. He expressed that it is impossible to summarize today in just a few words, and the Blog team wholeheartedly agrees.
Diego highlighted the systemic nature of the themes: there is a clear cause-and-effect relationship among their components, and they cannot be isolated.
The systemic nature implies that what one does today has an impact somewhere. Anything you do, whether it contributes or makes harm, affects the world we live in. One is necessarily part of the problem, but also part of the solution.
Please, when you say 'I want to do something different,' actually do it. Don't be afraid to make a real difference. Singularity lies not in the obvious or the common.
The SABF Blog team will recharge their news transmission batteries for tomorrow. We will meet again in the day 2 summary.