In an unassuming conference room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Singapore, about 400 participants from around the world attended the Milken Institute's Asia Summit 2016 to learn, network and grow. In the face of major socio-political events worldwide, CEOs of both Pepsi and GSK joined financial titans like Leon Black of Apollo and David Bonderman of TPG to discuss challenges and prospects for the Asian market.
The Milken Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank founded and chaired by Michael Milken, one of the world's most preeminent philanthropists. Now in its 3rd year, the Asia Summit brought together an awesome and diverse pool of talent from various industries-- from startups like Cole Sirucek, founder of online medical tourism platform DocDoc, to Loren Mack, PR Director of sports media ONE Championship and everything else in between.
Among the hot topics tackled during the summit is the issue of cybersecurity. Ever since the massive email leak from Sony and the hacking incident on Bank of Bangladesh's Federal Reserve which resulted in the loss of over $80 million, governments and companies are looking for safe and viable options to secure their systems and counteract the increasing frequency of cybercrime. Systems are resilient and constantly improving, so panelists were optimistic that cybersecurity would be able to control manage cyberattacks down the line. Hackers, they said, comprise a small part of the issue on cybersecurity.
"The biggest malfunctions that we're gonna see, I think, are not gonna be about hackers, they're gonna be about human error," said Nadav Zafrir, CEO of Team8 Cyber-Security. "The first thing that we need to do with our critical infrastructure is get visibility like we have in the IT systems so we can see anomalies."
Jacqueline Poh, Managing Director of Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, added that the next big challenge in cybersecurity is the emergence of AI. "As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, we have to start thinking about their nexus with other things like artificial intelligence," Poh stressed. "The day will come when the security challenge of an organisation will be the challenge of two sets of AI facing off against each other. Who will win? What will happen in that scenario? I still do not know, but it's a brave new world."
Geopolitical risks in the region were also tackled alongside global economic uncertainty in the beautifully lit auditorium. Despite the challenges, the overall outlook during the summit was upbeat. The key is continuous learning in this fast-paced digital age, said Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon. Menon noted that, "The critical component of success is going to be lifelong learning. That's one of the big challenges Singapore is grappling with, because almost everything we learn in schools is going to be outdated in a few years of our working life."
Notwithstanding the growing nationalist populism sentiments worldwide, events like the Asia Summit highlight the increasing importance of meaningful discussions geared towards collaborative solutions for both governments and private businesses to thrive in an interconnected platform. More importantly, startups get to tackle issues within their industry alongside established corporations to map out a forward-looking framework for their business.
Steve Feiner is the CEO of A Better Florist