The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing. Artificially-intelligent robots. Self-driving cars. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing. The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed. 

Previous industrial revolutions liberated humankind from animal power, made mass production possible and brought digital capabilities to billions of people. This Fourth Industrial Revolution is, however, fundamentally different. It is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.

I am always very wary of expressions of ideologically enhanced triumphalism. For every glowing sound bite here expressed, there are also serious, disturbing and socially devastating issues which must be also addressed. Of course, such triumphalism has specific interests underpinning it, and those interests are not outlined here. Such a gap between this triumphalism and the lives most of us lead and must live within the institutions which really exist!

By BMW Werk Leipzig ( [CC BY-SA 2.0 de (deed)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR, is the fourth major industrial era since the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century.  The Fourth Industrial Revolution can be described as a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, and impacting all disciplines, economies and industries. Klaus Schwab has associated it with the "second machine age"  in terms of the effects of digitization and AI on the economy, but added a broader role for advances in biological technologies.

Schwab sees as part of this revolution "emerging technology breakthroughs" in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, quantum computing and nanotechnology.

Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution builds on the Digital Revolution, representing new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies and even the human body.  The Fourth Industrial Revolution is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, The Internet of Things, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles.

In his book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, describes how this fourth revolution is fundamentally different from the previous three, which were characterized mainly by advances in technology. These technologies have great potential to continue to connect billions more people to the web, drastically improve the efficiency of business and organizations and help regenerate the natural environment through better asset management

The Fourth Industrial Revolution holds unique opportunities to improve human communication and conflict resolution.

Thanks to Wikipedia: Fourth Industrial Revolution

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