The Fourth Industrial Revolution is underway, just as everyone started getting accustomed to the third one.
We could blame the speed of technological invention, but the truth is, there is historical precedence for this. Consider how fast the world moved from the first to the Second Industrial Revolution a century ago. Innovation, high tech and otherwise, leads quickly to change.
For those who may not be familiar, here is a breakdown of the previous industrial revolutions.
The First Three Revolutions
First Industrial Revolution- Late 18th and early 19th century, the invention of steam power and mechanical production fuel a move away from an agrarian society.
Second Industrial Revolution– Roughly between the end of the Civil War and World War I, scientists harnessed electrical power that led to an explosion in the steel and oil industries, as well as migration into cities to work in mass production factories. Transportation was also affected as railroads took off, and society said goodbye to the horse and buggy, hello to the automobile.
Third Industrial Revolution– Starting in the 1960s, the invention and later commercialization of computers for personal use paved the way for laptops, smartphones, tablets, social media and other technological advances.
The internet also changed communication worldwide. Now you can discuss the underlying themes in “The Dark Knight” from your den in Peoria with a person sitting in his apartment in Tokyo. Or post a picture from your ski vacation on Facebook that is instantly available to everyone you know around the globe.
[/fusion_text][fusion_lightbox type=”” full_image=”https://dailydatanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/4thIR3.jpg” video_url=”” thumbnail_image=”https://dailydatanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Capture-300×298.png” alt_text=”” description=”Timeline of the 4 Industrial Revolutions” class=”” id=””]It also radically changed how companies conduct business. Consumers have moved online and away from traditional “brick and mortar” stores.
When it comes to the media, people get information online as much as they do through any other medium. In just a decade, newspapers have gone the way of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, without need for an asteroid impact in the Yucatan.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
The fourth industrial revolution, most experts agree, will involve blurring the line between the “real” world and technology. The term cyber-physical systems is now used to describe this new wave of innovation.
The internet of things (IoT), in which sensors placed on real-world objects connect them to a vast network of other such objects, is perhaps the best-known example. There are others, all of which are in various stages of development:
- Virtual reality
- Machine learning
- 3D printing
- Artificial intelligence
It’s a long list that keeps growing as the ability to collect and analyze data, as well as write more sophisticated software programs, advances rapidly.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will have big impact across all areas of life all around the world. The following represent a few examples.
So far, the biggest news about technological innovation and the job market is that high tech is a “disruptor.” For many critics of this revolution, that’s just a fancy way of saying job killer. Machines do jobs in factories that humans used to do. Print media is all but dead. Traditional stores are bleeding customers as people shop online.
However, it has also created careers in data analytics, software engineering, social media management, machine learning, data tagging, medical coding, business intelligence to name a few areas where job growth is occurring. It’s hard to know where all of it will go. But certainly the possibilities seem limitless when you consider the idea of billions of people connecting around the planet with devices that have increasingly high storage and processing capacities.
One thing seems certain. The demand for highly skilled workers will increase, while those with less education and skills will decrease.
The move to distance learning and online education is a hallmark of the Third Industrial Revolution. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the focus is not so much on how students are learning, but what they are being taught.
Education programs must first embrace technology. Second, they must allow for a degree of flexibility in their curriculum to accommodate the rapid changes in the economy that technology is causing. Lifelong, continuous learning also will become a hallmark of education, with more emphasis placed on outcome-based training and certification programs.
It’s difficult to quantify how more technology advancements will affect business, which already has changed so much in the past two decades. Certainly, machine learning and IoT are already having a big impact on areas ranging from supply chain management to processing invoices and records.
Big Data, and the analysis of consumer behavior, is altering marketing and sales strategy, particularly in the retail industry.
What’s even harder to foresee is consumer demand. Consumer engagement (often through social media) and the move to browsing and buying via mobile devices has already led to changes in marketing and how products are delivered.
Governments around the world face enormous challenges with what the Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring. The use of technology will empower citizens to have faster, better access to information. Governments will need increasing transparency in how they operate.
They also must face questions on how to regulate technology. Currently, the issue of net neutrality is being debated – which goes to the core of how people access information on the internet. Issues such as crypto-currency (such as Bitcoin) and transactional programs for crpto-currency (known as blockchains) may have an enormous impact on funding for governments.
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders famously collected about 60% of his total campaign donations through small contributions received on the internet. That’s just one example of how technology has altered campaigns.
President Donald Trump also apparently took a data-driven approach to his 2016 presidential election victory. He focused resources and time on areas where data showed winning over a small number of voters could tilt a state in his favor (Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan, for example).
As with government workers, politicians who wish to succeed in the future will need to accel in the following areas (or have people on staff who do):
- High-level tech skills
- Access to large amounts of data and the skills to analyze it
- Collaboration with citizens in developing regulations and laws
- Collaboration across global networks with fellow politicians, the public and business to share best practices and information on successful initiatives
The time to prepare for this new age is now. As history has shown, once the changes start, they will happen fast.