Updated: Sep 2
What exactly is the Fourth Industrial Revolution — and why should you care?
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a way of describing the blurring of boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. It’s a fusion of advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), , quantum computing, and other technologies. It’s the collective force behind many products and services that are fast becoming indispensable to modern life. Think GPS systems that suggest the fastest route to a destination, voice-activated virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri, personalised Netflix recommendations, and Facebook’s ability to recognise your face and tag you in a friend’s photo. (McGinnis, 2018)
The Fourth Industrial Revolution describes the changes we can expect to the way we work, live, and interact with one another due to the growth of internet-powered technology, the Internet of Things, and other systems. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will mark significant changes in both the physical and digital worlds; which will create untold promise for the future of society, as well as potential problems for the workforce. This industrial revolution is not just about work, but also finding ways to positively impact the lives of others through leveraging new technologies. ( Gallaghe ,2017)
What are the technologies driving change?
The easiest way to understand the Fourth Industrial Revolution is to focus on the technologies driving it. These include the following:
Artificial intelligence (AI) describes computers that can “think” like humans — recognizing complex patterns, processing information, drawing conclusions, and making recommendations. AI is used in many ways, from spotting patterns in huge piles of unstructured data to powering the autocorrect on your phone.
Blockchain is a secure, decentralized, and transparent way of recording and sharing data, with no need to rely on third-party intermediaries. The digital currency, Bitcoin is the best known blockchain application.
New computational technologies are making computers smarter. They enable computers to process vast amounts of data faster than ever before, while the advent of the cloud has allowed businesses to safely store and access their information from anywhere with internet access, at any time. Quantum computing technologies now in development will eventually make computers millions of times more powerful. These computers will have the potential to supercharge AI, create highly complex data models in seconds, and speed up the discovery of new materials. ( Johnson, 2020)
Robotics refers to the design, manufacture, and use of robots for personal and commercial use. While we’re yet to see robot assistants in every home, technological advances have made robots increasingly complex and sophisticated. They are used in fields as wide-ranging as manufacturing, health and safety, and human assistance.( Johnson, 2020)
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is therefore not a prediction of the future but a call to action. It is a vision for developing, diffusing, and governing technologies in ways that foster a more empowering, collaborative, and sustainable foundation for social and economic development, built around shared values of the common good and human dignity.
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