In early December, vaccinated and rapid tested, I had the opportunity to catch up in person with Klaus Schwab, chairman of the World Economic Forum, our partner in this special issue. It was his first visit to New York since the pandemic began, and though we covered a wide range of topics, from inflation to climate policy, the theme we kept coming back to is one that has been pervasive for all of us across the past two years: the power and importance of physical connection.
Schwab, of course, is one of the world’s pre-eminent conveners, having been gathering leaders in Davos, Switzerland, and elsewhere for over 50 years. I asked what he made of the endless physical-virtual conundrum we find ourselves in. “To really establish trust in human relationships,” he said, “you need personal contact. You need to have some moments on the side of the video screen.”
With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant limiting those moments, ongoing barriers to being together are taking a deep toll, not only in global relations—including the now postponed 2022 Davos annual meeting—but in our schools, workplaces and families. As Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai has put it, we’re living on “borrowed time, in terms of working on memories of the relationships you have and the connections you have.” And yet collaboration is more crucial than ever to tackling our many collective problems…READ ON