The 4th Industrial Revolution presents some of the most transforming opportunities in human history. Why?
Because disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way we live and work.
In fact, while previous industrial revolutions were based on one major change, we face ten happening together – robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, the Internet of Things, the Industrial Internet of Things, wireless technologies (5G), additive manufacturing/3D printing and fully autonomous vehicles.
The First Industrial Revolution took place from the 18th to 19th centuries in Europe and America. It was a period when mostly agrarian, rural societies became industrial and urban. The iron and textile industries, along with the development of the steam engine played central roles in the Industrial Revolution.
The Second Industrial Revolution took place between 1870 and 1914. It was a period of growth for pre-existing industries and expansion of new ones, such as steel, oil and electricity, and used electric power to create mass production. Major technological advances during this period included the electric light, telephone phonograph and internal combustion engine.
The Third Industrial Revolution, often called the Digital Revolution, refers to the advancement of technology from analog electronic and mechanical devices to the digital technology available today. The era started during the 1980s and is ongoing. Advancements during the Third Industrial Revolution include the personal computer, internet and ICT.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution describes the exponential changes to the way we live, work and relate to one another due to the adoption of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Systems.
How will it work? One example – as we implement smart technologies in our factories and workplaces, connected machines will interact, visualize the entire production chain and make decisions autonomously. This revolution is expected to impact all disciplines, industries, and economies.
In his book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, describes the enormous potential for the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution as well as the possible risks. He said, “The changes are so profound that, from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril.”
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.”
Will we put people first?