By Eleonora Moro
Following a flurry of breakfast clubs, conferences, events and breakout sessions, during which 700 or so scholarship holders rubbed shoulders with the highest level of politicians, entrepreneurs and philosophers (in typical Alpbach style – what else can you do in a town of 2561 inhabitants?), the days of the Economic Symposium here at the European Forum Alpbach have come to an end.
The topics covered included the successes and failures of the market economy, hashed out in a fascinating debate between Yanis Varoufakis and Clemens Fuest, the opportunities and challenges of migration, case studies of development in Georgia, Israel and South Korea, the future of Europe, the rise of digital entrepreneurship and numerous breakout sessions. All kinds of debates have been had, questions asked and issues raised: What is the role of human labour in a world of Artificial Intelligence? How can we address the increasingly urgent issue of climate change? How can the Euro be improved to ensure that the common currency serves the diverse countries of the Eurozone?
The importance of developing alternative tools in Economics in order to address the key concerns of the 21st century was one issue that kept coming up. This is where the ‘New Enlightenment’ (the topic of the forum) comes in; the same economic and social mindset that created the issues that we are facing today evidently cannot solve them.
As Phillipp Blom put it in his panel speech, it is time for the new generation to step up and take on the challenges – climate change, inequality, migration, to name a few – that we have inherited from the previous generation from a wholly new different perspective.