To better understand what the Fourth Industrial Revolution entails, we must look at the preceding revolutions.
- The First Industrial Revolution – water and steam power to mechanize production
- The Second Industrial Revolution – electric power to create mass production
- The Third Industrial Revolution – electronics and information technology to automate production.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a blurred fusion of physical, digital, and biological spheres with the Third Revolution technologies. Some might say that this is just an extension of the Third Revolution, but there are 3 distinct separations:
- Systems impact
This Revolution is not following the conventional linear pace, but rather an exponential growth. This is rapidly changing the way humans create, exchange and distribute value.
Let’s look at some of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s technologies:
- Artificial intelligence
- Genome editing
- Augmented reality
- 3-D printing
- Internet of Things
- Energy storage
- Quantum computing
As noticed in the previous revolutions, there remains a common denominator that will profoundly transform institutions, industries, and individuals. What makes this revolution so crucial, is that the choices people make today, will affect the character of the world in 50 to 100 years from now. The effect of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is global. These changes will impact the transformation of entire systems of production, management and governance.
Challenges And Opportunities
Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, has been at the center of global affairs for over four decades.
Schwab calls for leaders and citizens to “together shape a future that works for all by putting people first, empowering them and constantly reminding ourselves that all of these new technologies are first and foremost tools made by people for people.”
But, the Fourth Industrial Revolution also presents societal concerns, the largest being the rising gap in wealth between those dependent on capital versus labor where the innovators, shareholders and investors stand to gain.
Yet, the Fourth Industrial Revolution presents the possibilities of billions of people connecting mobile devices with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity and almost unlimited access to knowledge. In the end, we need to shape a future that works for all of us by putting the characteristics of human nature first – creativity, empathy and stewardship.