This article is inspired by Klaus Schwab, Founder of the World Economic Forum.
We are on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, influence, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything we have experienced before.
The fourth industrial revolution (AKA Industry 4.0 or 4IR) is the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using smart tech such as machine-to-machine communication (M2M) and the internet of things (IoT). The time period will result in advances in AI, IoTs, robotics, 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other technologies.
We already take for granted some technologies that have come as a result of Industry 4.0. These include GPS systems that suggest the quickest route, voice-activated virtual assistants such as Siri, personalized Netflix recommendations or YouTube/TikTok videos, and Facebook’s ability to recognize your face and tag you in a friend’s photo.
The first industrial revolution (1760-1830) was the transition to new manufacturing processes that went from hand production to water and steam-powered machines. The second advanced steel production, and introduced us to assembly lines, electrical grid systems, and other machinery. The third is the digital revolution which has been occurring since the mid-last century.
Although the third and fourth industrial revolutions may seem identical, trends say otherwise. The speed of modern breakthroughs has no historical precedent and is evolving exponentially rather than linear.
Industry 4.0 will be the fusion of the digital, biological, and physical worlds, as well as the growing utilization of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, and advanced wireless technologies, among others.
The possibilities of humanity connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging tech breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the IOTs, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, biotechnology, nanotechnology materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.
Like the revolutions before it, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations globally through empowerment. It has the potential to make inequalities visible, and less acceptable which will hopefully attract political support to make changes.
To date, those who have gained the most from Industry 4.0 have been consumers able to afford and access the digital world. Technology has made it possible for new products and services to increase the efficiency and pleasure of our personal lives. Ordering a taxi, booking a flight, making a payment, buying a product, listening to music, watching a movie, or playing a video game can now be done remotely and with minimal friction.
As mentioned in What Comes After The Smartphone?, tech such as AI, wearables, VR, AR, and BCI’s will completely transform the world we live in, making everything more efficient, interconnected and seamless, and even equitable. The tech will allow us to achieve breakthroughs in all industries from agriculture to healthcare and expand our knowledge beyond our planet and eventually achieve a multi-planetary status.
If you’re as interested in the fourth revolution as I am, check out this article to go more in-depth and to see how it will impact everything from business, government, opportunity, people, and the future as a whole.
And for a comprehensive hype video on the fourth industrial revolution check out this video: