Innovation Growth in Asia: Spearheading R&D in the Modern Age
An explosion of R&D in Asia has propelled Asian companies to become more efficient, competitive, and innovative. In fact, Asia accounts for nearly 30% of global R&D spending, totalling $782 billion. Behind this movement are major tech leaders such as Alibaba, which spent nearly $4 billion on R&D, as well as governmental support for developing cutting-edge technology. This new focus on tech driven—by AI and digitization—will have wider implications on whether Asia can maintain its competitive edge with the Western world and even spearhead innovation of the future.
While Asia’s investment in R&D is growing faster than western countries, this investment—especially Chinese investment—still lags significantly behind Western investment in terms of value, according to PwC. At the heart of R&D is the ability to adapt to changing times, and it remains important for business leaders and policymakers to create an environment conducive to innovation. In this seminar, delegates will explore best practices for companies to maintain competitiveness and analyze government policies to allow Asia to take the lead in global R&D.
Shaping Spaces, Changing Culture
A cultural space can be defined as a communal environment for people to negotiate questions of belonging, societal identity, and community. Whether the cultural space in question be a museum, library, restaurant, or performance space, architects, urban designers, and leaders of cultural institutions constantly have to balance considerations of aesthetics, functionality, and accessibility when designing any kind of physical environment. In this seminar, delegates will explore these considerations and the dynamic relationship between space, the people within the space, and culture — how space can contain culture, influence culture, and even be culture itself. Indeed, Winston Churchill once said, “We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.”
Erasing Ecological Footprints Through the Digital World
With the trend of growing global populations and corresponding needs, the energy and environmental sustainability sectors have never faced such magnitudes of issues in the degradation of our planet. Fortunately, the rise in technology and the digital world has created a mechanism that could ultimately save the life of our planet. As social media applications and organizations grow more popular, they have begun connecting people from all over the world in various sectors and fields of work. Moreover, the strong digital presence has led to an easy tool for spreading awareness and promoting change in villages around the world, regardless of socioeconomic status or cultural differences. Thus, there is a greater need to utilize digitalization to curb the negative effects of unsustainable human habits. In this seminar, the possibility of using digital methods in environmental efforts will be explored, especially pertaining to what factors to consider and adopt when using specific methods to reach different populations across the world.
Team Trivia Competition—Delegates vs Speakers
In celebration of the progress of scientific discovery throughout history, this seminar aims to allow the delegates to interact with one another in a mutual trivia competition! Delegates will be paired in teams of 6 each among members of the track, and will compete against one another and a team of keynote speakers from the track in a trivia asking questions about science ranging from fundamental discoveries in Chemistry to the laws of Physics—encompassing everything from naming notable scientists to predicting biological phenomenon. The format of the competition will take the form of an online Kahoot game moderated by the HPAIR staff, where teams will join using their phones and answer questions projected on a megascreen—awarding points for the quickest and correct answer. In the spirit of fun, delegates will bond with one another and engage in friendly competition to celebrate all the great achievements in scientific history!
Unleashing Breakthrough Innovation in Government (in partnership with Astana Civil Service Hub)
In the last decade, the Asia-Pacific region has witnessed unprecedented developments in technology thanks to social penetration, consumers’ openness to new technologies and the mobile Internet, and willingness by companies to innovate. However, can the same be said for governments in the Asia-Pacific region? When we overlook government’s role in innovation, policymakers are less likely to take risks in the future, oftentimes stifling much needed progress. When speaking of innovation, oftentimes we tend to first think of digital innovations in the private sector, although data and technology can fundamentally change the way government operates. For example, consider India’s national digital ID and Estonia’s data embassy to Singapore’s robotic police force. With trust in government at an all-time low in many countries, it’s more important than ever to replace archaic systems and services with better ones.This seminar will discuss how governments may improve themselves by adopting innovative practices and streamline its public services. Through delving deeper into political, social, and economic issues of our society, delegates will gain a more well-rounded understanding of the public sector as well as its shortcomings. Delegates will have the opportunity to brainstorm and create innovative policy solutions to the 21st-century challenges of governing.
The Art of Advocacy through Storytelling
Whether it be film, fiction writing, fashion, food, fine or performing arts, the salience of the arts has long been in its power to tell stories that speak to human experiences, bridge cultural divides, uplift underrepresented and marginalized voices, and promote empathy among disparate social and cultural groups. The need for diverse stories contributes to the growing need for diverse voices and perspectives to tell those stories. How can art be employed as a tool to advocate for pertinent social change? How does one create art that can both teach and touch people? What are the challenges to using art as such a tool — for example, censorship or lack of representation in certain artforms — and how can they be overcome? From storytelling through art, awareness can be raised, unity can be achieved, and action can be inspired.
Humanity’s Next Threat: Loss of Biodiversity
Scientists and researchers have long touted the drastic effects of climate change, with a dire sense of emergency to fix or alleviate the problem. However, a lesser publicized environmental sustainability problem has potentially the same effects, if not worse, than those of climate change: biodiversity loss. According to a UN Environment Report, 8 out of 10 of the world’s most plastic polluted rivers in the world are in Asia, threatening the existence of nearly 25 percent of the region’s endemic species. Worse yet, in a Nature paper, the researchers found that high levels of biodiversity loss was on the same rank of other major drivers of environmental change: climate warming, ozone pollution, acid deposition on forests, and nutrient pollution. Despite the magnitude of the effects of biodiversity loss, little publication or attention has been given to it in the greater world context. Thus, this panel will attempt to answer the question of why biodiversity loss is a greater issue to focus on in the world, with focus given on what has been done to combat the issue, what are newer developments in the field, and what cultural intersections must be made to motivate the world to save biodiversity in a unified effort.
The Future of Warfare: The New Cold War in 5G, AI, and Data Supremacy
Emerging technologies are changing the nature of warfare and rapid advances in unmanned systems, robotics, artificial intelligence, cyber, quantum, networking, and big data systems are already shaping the way wars will be fought in the coming decade. China is testing its surveillance technology in its “Uyghur 5G Warfare Lab” while their government has proclaimed data to be its “fundamental strategic resource” moving forward. Russian President Putin says the nation that leads in AI ‘will be the ruler of the world,’ a bold statement that is spurring a new arms race for dominant artificial intelligence. But the race to build autonomous weapons systems raises important questions about how and when humans might cede authority to machines that can act and react far faster than we can—increasing the potential risks to a catastrophic level. Factor in that artificial intelligence is being developed primarily by private enterprise, the way war is waged will fundamentally change as new stakeholders will wield enormously more power than governments and nation states historically have in the past. Cyber mercenaries, killer robots, and AI spies—it’s not science fiction anymore.
Breaking the Taboo: Mental Health in the Asia-Pacific
Perspectives towards mental illnesses vary greatly across the Asia-Pacific. At one extreme, countries like Australia and New Zealand have invested considerable resources to build frameworks for mental healthcare. On the other end of the spectrum, countries like India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Pakistan face many challenges such as the lack of available medical treatment, dilapidated facilities, and critically low numbers of mental health professionals. In between, although countries like China and Thailand have made significant progress in tackling mental health in the last decade, many problems still remain. In China, with 20,000 psychiatrists for a population of 1.4 billion, around 92% of an estimated 173 million people in China suffering from mental disorders go without care. Studies by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development identified depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal behavior and substance-abuse disorder to be the five leading mental health problems in the region.
The widespread tendency to stigmatize and discriminate against people with a mental illness leaves talking about mental health taboo. In recent years, there have been concerted efforts in Asia-Pacific countries to raise awareness and to establish legal and policy frameworks around mental health issues. In contrast with more Westernized models of mental health, which prioritize the individual, the more family-oriented cultures in Asia-Pacific countries demand a different approach.
In this panel, we will discuss the issue of mental healthcare and its associated stigma in the Asia-Pacific as well as analyze the progress that has been made, in recent years, by the combined efforts in Asia-Pacific countries to raise awareness and to establish legal and policy frameworks around these health issues.
Technological Influences on Visions of Humanity
Globally, there exists a stark dichotomy between countries that have chosen to embrace technology in a globalized system and nations that have been slower to adopt it—which has built a division that has proliferated today with the rise of superpower nations and the developing world. Technology has been at the forefront of creating this divide—and more specifically, certain types of technologies have resulted in greater growth and impact than others. In Asian markets, the adoption of new technologies has been a relatively new phenomenon in the grand history of Asian nations, especially in the age of the semiconductor and computational software. However, the change that integration with technology has caused in Asian systems has often outpaced the West, with Chinese corporations centralizing data and utilizing QR codes to India’s rise of FlipKart and Jio. Technology empowers people—and when it is mixed with commerce, it gives birth to new ways of living that revolutionizes the lives of individuals within nations.
This panel will focus on the past, present, and future of technology in amplifying human ability to solve problems, with an emphasis on new technologies at the forefront of adoption and how they could be integrated into the lives of people. A discussion of genetic engineering, the moral sides of robotic intelligence, and the future of energy are among a few of the many topics that will be discussed in this analysis of technology, leaving delegates with a greater degree of appreciation for its potential and future.
The Hidden Risks of International Capital Flows
In 2013 at Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev University, Chinese president Xi Jinping outlined the start of the Belt and Road Initiative, one of the most ambitious infrastructure and investment initiatives in history. As the world has become more interconnected, international capital flows have become an integral economic link between Asian nations. While the Belt and Road Initiative represents the most prominent of these initiatives, it is only part of the wider picture of Asia-Pacific intra-regional capital flows.
Although foreign investments and loans have spurred productivity growth and fostered vital connections between Asian countries, there remain many risks that are associated with deepening economic connections among countries. For instance, 23 out of the 68 countries with projects linked to the Belt and Road Initiative are at risk of debt distress, while high external debt levels of Southeast Asian countries are leading to fears of a debt crisis. Questions this panel will address include what are the economic, cultural, and technological barriers to increased foreign investment? How do ongoing political and trade tensions shape the landscape of investments? How should governments address the major challenges associated with capital flows?
Arts in Education
The role of arts in education tend to be undervalued in the Asia-Pacific region and the world, even though it enriches learning in settings for people of all ages, within and beyond the classroom. In this seminar, delegates will discuss the value of arts integration in school curricula, learn about applying creative skills in both artistic and seemingly non-artistic fields, and examine the intersection of arts with a diverse fields — for example, medicine, politics, and psychology. The intellectual value of investing and engaging in the arts is no less important than the intellectual value of science, math, or engineering fields, contrary to popular belief. Studies show that art instruction can aid the development of motor skills, language skills, and creativity in addition to having cognitive and emotional benefits. Art not only helps us to make sense of the world around us, but also to understand ourselves, to heal, and to find our voice.
Air Pollution: The Silent Killer to be Caught
One in eight premature deaths in the world is caused by air pollution, and over 90% of the Asian population is exposed to the significantly harmful levels of air pollution. The harmful effects of this “silent killer”—air pollution—are not only limited to human health, but also has wide ranging effects on the atmosphere, precipitation, global meteorology, materials, and natural life. With the rise in human population and corresponding demands, air is no longer found clean in nature, due to natural and man-made pollution. Even tiny, solid particles in the air can lead to air pollution through winds, storms, or various industrial activities. In addition, monitoring air pollutants has been a costly global affair with no direct beneficial returns. Knowing such problems exist, how can we bring air quality to the required standards? What are the measures to control and prevent air pollution in an effective way? What are the intersections between varying cultures? During such a cleaning process, how can we capitalize on digitalization and cultural trends to achieve our goal?
Regional Cooperation in Central Asia: Challenges and New Opportunities in the Face of Escalating World Conflicts
Since its birth after dissolution of the Soviet Union, the idea of an integrated Central Asia is now close to realization than never. What everyone aspired to but what proved unfeasible for two decades because of economic, political and social reasons, along with subjective opinions of state leaders have potential to be brought to life thanks to favorable climate changes occurring recently. The change of Uzbekistan’s government to liberal minded president who visited almost all Central Asian countries with diplomatic mindset is one of the foundational changes for an increase in regional collaboration. Attitudes for economic, political, and social aspects of Central Asian states are converging more and more, opening a window of opportunity that is replacing the pane of disappointment.
Regional cooperation of Central Asia will not only realize the economic potential of the whole region, but also attract foreign investors thanks to enlarged market. More than that, the political cooperation of the region will secure diplomatic positions of the region for the entire world. The social cooperation will allow for an exchange and mutual growth of already similar yet unique cultures and human capital.
Taking these into account, it is necessary to discuss the pros and cons, threats and opportunities for the realization of Central Asian Union. The states of this region have potential to provide powerful impulse to international relations, and its extent is yet to be estimated.
Leadership in the Age of Digitization: Shaping Leaders of the Next Generation
The world is increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and fast-paced. What does that mean for future leaders? What are ways to lead and maximize the effectiveness of leaders in a changing business environment? Effective leadership is the bedrock of successful business performance. The 21-century organizations require leaders that will develop new mind-set and capabilities to transform themselves, their teams, and their organization.
However, the role of leadership is not only confined internally. In response to the emerging challenges of the past decade, dominant ideas about what defines effective business leadership has changed. While previously addressing societal challenges has been solely in the realm of political and civic leaders, today, more and more executives increasingly recognize the role of business leaders in leading change beyond traditional business boundaries. The leadership role today requires understanding and addressing the major forces shaping society and contribute to public debate with an informed point of view.
Scars of Traditions: Convention vs. Modernity
Ancient traditions represent cultural values and image of different ethnic and religious communities. From the childhood, members of those communities are taught to respect and preserve traditional values, obey and follow certain rules. Hence, it creates social and cultural expectations which automatically assign certain roles to individuals based on their gender and origin of families. As history has shown, it tends to result in numerous social issues like discrimination, limited access to education, health issues, violation of human rights and the list can go on.
Traditionalist conservatism has long been prevailing in Central Asia which resulted in higher level of gender discrimination and inequality. This issue is mostly common in rural areas of the region as the older generation wants the local youth to preserve the old traditions that often might not be humane. Taking the case of Kyrgyzstan, there is a tradition called “kyz ala kachu” which means marrying a woman by abducting her with or without her consent. Despite having ancient roots, this tradition is still practiced in many parts of the country. Contrary to the state officials statistics that only 5% of female population are the victims, the reports of Human Rights Watch of UNDP states that every third woman in Kyrgyzstan is married due to “kyz ala kachu” tradition. This kind of forced marriages boosted the level women suicides in past 10 years. The government has not handled the problem, and the punishments for the parties involved in the crimes of abduction, forced marriage or rape are not severe. Reason behind such indifference is that social stigmatization often forces the females to obey the traditions which restrict their personal and economical freedom. The families of the victims are also pressured by the local community to put up with the idea of forced marriage in fear of getting cursed in superstitious society.
Although it seems that we have surpassed the era of conservatism and entered the era of digitization, we still lack the data information on the real number of people suffering from negative consequences of old traditions. Therefore, in this seminar session with the focus on Central Asia, the delegates will get to know about the socioeconomic problems of the region, make a comparative analysis, and collaborate to come up with solutions that would minimize the risks.
A Debate on the Intersection of Science & Ethics – Genetic Engineering
Headlines were made worldwide in March after the successful modification of the genes of a fetus in a Chinese laboratory, leading to the embryo having a reduced risk of developing HIV in its lifetime. Yet, the scientific community was enraged to see that seemingly “universal ethical boundaries” were crossed; however, only a few weeks later, scientists at Harvard and MIT in the USA announced a joint collaboration to engineer the genes of a baby to optimize for certain traits to combat disease, leading the way for another scientific revolution. Ultimately, this begs a moral question on the nature of science in contrast to the fabric of society, and the place ethical considerations play in this rapid growth rate of science. Thus, this seminar will invite four powerful speakers at the forefront of the genetic engineering discussion to debate against one another in British Parliamentary style, creating a two-on-two back and forth with one side supporting genetic engineering and the acceleration of scientific discovery while the other will oppose exponential rates and advocate for increased regulatory oversight on the nature of experiments being conducted. All in all, delegates will draw insight on the role ethics ought to play in the face of scientific discovery, and how not all experiments yield a net good for the future of humanity.
Creating in the Digital Age
With the rise of new, innovative technologies and digital media, barriers to creating are breaking down everyday. Indeed, creatives today — from social media influencers to YouTube personalities — have dramatically increased the reach of their content and its impact with all the necessary tools at their fingertips. Companies such as Netflix, Amazon, and Apple have also increasingly played a role in disseminating art and creative media to wider audiences through new channels. With these new possibilities also comes the challenge of learning and understanding how to best harness the power of these channels to efficiently and successfully create content and maximize impact. At the same time, these technologies also have great potential to shape and change long-established relationships between creators, content, and audiences. How has digital innovation had an effect on more traditional creative media and their audiences — radio, published works, film, music? Is it a democratizing force or a threat?
The Best Mix: An Energy Cultural Transformation
By 2050, the world’s population is projected to be centralized in megacities, defined as cities with over 10 million people. With this increase in population, higher energy amounts will be needed to power the daily activities of people. The most innovative way to generate power is having a conscientious effort in maintaining a fine balance of energy security, economic efficiency, and environmental sustainability. However, as renewable energy cannot keep up with current demands, fossil fuel usage will see an increasing trend. In fact, despite Central Asia’s significant renewable potential in wind, solar, hydro, and biomass energy sources, Central Asia is still predicted to be dependent on fossil fuels in the near future, as it is an area also rich in natural resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Thus, in this panel, delegates will discuss the implications of a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, the reasons that propagate a cultural transformation based on regional demand and supply, the necessity of innovations with net-zero emissions, and finally the true prospect of an optimal energy mix.
Rising Regionalism: Regional Blocs as Main Actors in Contemporary International Relations
XXI century’s international relations have mostly been characterized with optimistic notions such as “globalization”, “interdependence” and “multilateralism”. The international organizations were considered as a practical symbol of peace-building and progressiveness around the world. Nevertheless, a significant increase in regional agreements and consequent bloc divisions are being observed instead of a single interconnected world. Both West and East are expressing signs of regional preference and protectionism within and between themselves.This is often interpreted as a demonstration that globalization, liberal values, and unrestricted mobility may not be in everyone’s interest. It is beyond doubt that globalization is affecting the world order in different ways, but the question of whether changes are positive or negative remains unanswered. The US's role as a facilitator of global cooperation is declining, while regional alliances diverting effects of globalization such as ASEAN, NAFTA, Mercosur or EU are exerting more influence than before. This trend can spark legitimate thinking that regional blocs are becoming key actors in contemporary international relations.
Modern Slavery in Asia
Huge income gap inequality still persists in the Asia-Pacific, despite the fact that in recent years the economy of the region has been flourishing. Being one of the most overpopulated regions, Southeast Asia created an environment with the highest demand for cheap labor. There is a supply of human resources, however, an overwhelming majority of the population fall victims of of modern slavery. According to ILO statistics, over 40 million people in the world are suffering from human trafficking, two third of which constitute from East Asian and the Pacific region population.
There are many factors that contribute to the escalation of the issue. Natural disasters as well as the state conflicts make the victims automatically fall under the category of vulnerable people in the eyes of human traffickers. Refugees and survivors of the catastrophes get trapped in the nets of slavery while seeking for shelter and financial support. Recent armed conflicts in the Philippines and Myanmar spurred the refugee crisis problem, which also led to the increased crime level, thus of forced labor, sex exploitation and coerced marriage.
In this panel session, the delegates will discuss various topics and recent events related to modern slavery in the Asia-Pacific region, analyze the causes of this issue and get acknowledged with social policies implemented to minimize negative consequences.
Scientific Revolutions & The Future of Intelligence Driven Discoveries
As the world embraces the technological revolution that has come to define the turn of the 21st century, startups as a whole are more rationally positioned to become enablers of change and influence. Asian markets, in particular, are at the epicenter of disruption; however, with the exponentially growing economies of China and India developing into hubs blooming with startups, more and more entrepreneurs are emerging with the need to stand out in a highly competitive Asian marketplace. By developing high impact technologies to address preeminent issues—both niche and broad–the focus of companies has evolved into providing pragmatic solutions that are affordable, easy to use, minimally invasive, and highly effective for problems consumers face on a daily basis.
For countries in Asia, where manual labour and factories prevail, investments in developing artificial intelligence systems to enhance efficiency of manufacturing or processing systems have increased drastically—presenting a cascade of ethical issues. With many corporations serving as proponents of the thesis that machine learning is the future—the applications of artificial intelligence range across all aspects of industry and life, and will empower humanity to explore science’s unknowns at an unprecedented rate, while leading to trade-offs in other industries. This panel aims to explore the applications of artificial intelligence in scientific discovery and companies—allowing delegates to explore further the possibilities of AI to impact humanity.
Remaking of Global Finance – Building Safer, More Inclusive and Ethically Sound Global Financial Order in Asia and Beyond
After a long period of post-global financial crisis stagnation, the world is undergoing a new golden age in global financial interconnectedness. The revolution in global finance has been powered by technological and digital innovations. The growing fintech industry is providing specialized financial services at an affordable cost using a range of digital innovations, including services that supply credit and micro loans to households, enable cross-border payment and remittances, and provide accessible bookkeeping and accounting. Digital money and crypto assets facilitate financial inclusion by providing lost-cost payment methods to those who lack bank accounts, and in the process empower millions of individuals and small and medium businesses, especially in poor Asian economies.
At the same time that fintech and decentralized organizations offer efficiency and inclusion advantages, these agents can also be sources of increased risks. The IMF warns that new technologies may disrupt the business models of established financial institutions, challenge the conduct of monetary policies, and lead to a migration of activities outside the regulated sector. Cryptoassets may pose risks related to money laundering, tax evasion, circumvention of capital controls, and other forms of illicit activity.
This panel will examine the benefits and risks posed by the digital revolution in the global financial system. Delegates will also explore the possible solutions to build a well-functioning and universally inclusive system that will make access to financial services for all adults in developing countries a reality.