Technological Advancement or the Fourth Industrial Revolution

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Photo by Dexter Fernandes on Unsplash

The “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is a common phrase in today’s Global Economics. But what exactly does it mean? It was in the swiss mountains of Davos, Switzerland, the world was first introduced to the phrase “The Fourth Industrial Revolution.” The term “Fourth Industrial Revolution” was founded by Klaus Schwar, founder of the World Economic Forum and a former professor. He had written a book on reference to an Era-The Fourth Industrial Revolution Era.[1] Almost everything revolves around technology in today’s world. Social media has turned into the digital version of communication as the introduction of Computers, and the Internet had rolled out in the historical 3rd Industrial revolution, also known as the Digital Revolution. The historical era when citizens and scholars would go to salons and coffee shops to communicate and discuss ideologies on social factors of Universalism and Equality, now can be done from the bedroom with just a click via the Internet and Social media.[2] Social media has given us the power of voicing our words in a faster and convenient manner. Like the Industrial revolution of the 17th century and its rise of factories, social media assisted the rise of online-based entrepreneurs who can now have mass consumer reach, efficient product feedbacks through reviews, and less capital investment of resources needed for a startup business with just the help of the internet. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is the bridge of Digital, Physical, and Biological systems of innovation. William McDonough of Stanford University mentioned at the World Economic Forum–The Fourth Revolution is about adding quality to the number of lives. The ultimate goal is a diverse, safe, healthy, just world with clean air, clean water, clean soil, and clean energy.[3] Even though the first revolution of the civilization of humanity had started with fossil fuels, but the fourth revolution may not. With the knowledge of Solar, Wind, and Biomass, these essential energies can be distributed to any part of the world on basis of supply and demand, mentioned by Oreska Naomi, Harvard University.[4] It reveals to us that in the future, we can look forward to something as renewable energy international trading between nations like Solar energy as when it is night in the United States, it is morning in other parts of the world where the energy can be harnessed. However, in a recent news program reporting CNBC mentioned, even though the Fourth Revolution of today’s world is a door to further enlightenment phase, it can have negative impacts on our lives. It can cause Inequality-the same issue human beings have been facing for generations. As mentioned in CNBC explains, “One study found billionaires have driven 80% of the 40 main breakthrough innovation over the last 40 years. It is a problem when the richest 1% of households already own 47% of the world’s wealth and may lead to further segregation of humanity in terms of monetary wealth and livelihood. It may lead to high skilled workers awarded higher pay, and the rest of the workers will be left out. AI (Artificial Intelligence) as such will eliminate some jobs and create demand for new skills that many workers do not have. The Fourth Revolution had converted most of today’s companies into a tech company. Industries from food, retail to banking has shifted to digital.”[5] The WEF (World Economic Forum) states that the majority of world leaders are not ready for changes associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Kalus Shawab, the founder of the World Economic Forum stated, “One of the features of the Fourth Revolution is it does not change what we are doing as humans, it changes us.”[6]

The concept of the Fourth Industrial Revolution upholds the ultimate combination of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd industrial revolutions. The driver of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the existing technological enhancement in humanity and the rate of its evolution. For example, it took 75 years for the telephone to reach its 100 million users, Instagram signed up 100 million users in two years,[7] while Pokémon Go did that in 1 month.[8] Industrial revolutions are revolutions in the systems that surround us, transforms in a combination of humans and technology, that results in our new ways of recognizing, acting, and living.

The First Industrial Revolution was the starter, which gave rise to the ultimate present Fourth Industrial Revolution. Its introduction of steam-powered engines gave rise to booming new manufacturing textile factories, which provided an opportunity for women of society to work and earn their livings. But yet on the other hand, women’s position in society and in the workplace were treated as second-class citizens, as seen in the “Harriet Robinson: Lowell Mill Girls” document.[9] On the contrary, in the present era, women of the society now are just much involved as the man in the technological advancement industries and equally contributing to the rise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Second Industrial Revolution led to the Fourth Industrial Revolution with the belief that science and technology are the paths forward to a better life and progression of humanity.[10] Applied science and engineering in the era gave rise to the evolution of its existing industries resulting in mass production and a rise in new manufacturing industries. The steam engine had evolved to the internal combustion gasoline engine, and new industries like steel, oil, and electricity were put forward. The light bulb and the telephone were the major inventions of this era, leading its journey of evolution to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.[11]

Similarities between the Third Industrial Revolution and the Fourth Industrial Revolution are at its core. The Third Industrial Revolution, is also known as the Digital Revolution, had introduced its branches to Computers, the Internet, and Nuclear Power. It had shaped the post-war world of humanity into a realm of a new structure in the natural world and its political order.[12] It had also reformed human societies to its core of values, knowledge, and culture. Governments and Businesses recognized its integration of computers for performing complex calculations and eventually the daily task.[13]Rapid computational growth had led to an interconnected and complex world within ourselves and to the rise of the glimpse of the Fourth Industrial revolution.

Just like the previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings magnificent opportunities for individuals, industries, and the ultimate growth of the nation. Computers have led its path rise of Artificial Intelligence where computers would not require any external command or input given for a preferred output or result, and pre-programmed data would command its internal computers to function and perform in a specific way in terms of situations. The potential of quantum computing can lead to life-changing realities of humanity, such as resolving global hunger, predict and prevent further pandemics, and also reverse climate changes. Financial technology uses such as blockchain consists of digital personal information such as cryptocurrency in the form of digital transactions, digital identification of a person, and a platform to fraud management can be looked upon by Government use for its greater transparency.[14] In the fields of Biology, gene editing, and synthetic biology, where we are learning how to hack biology by programming DNA. In other words, genetic diseases and hereditary disorders can be edited out like flaws in a photo using photoshop. It can also lead to some extreme possibilities like changing of individual hereditary physical attributes, such as person born with a black eye color passed down by his/her parents or previous generations that held the gene can now have any eye color of choice just by gene editing. Neurotechnology advancement in human lives is advancing so rapidly that we can soon view human cognitive and physical capabilities in ways that two decades ago was considered fantasy is now soon to be a reality.[15]

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Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The rapid technological evolution can be little concerning because of our limited knowledge of its result. Without the responsible use of this technologically advanced era, this innovational industrial growth can be a one-way roller-coaster ride to a catastrophic consequence. The most important understanding of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is not about defining it further from its current state, but rather understanding and shaping its further impact. It leads to the four principles stated by Thomas Philbeck and Nicholas Davis in their journal, “THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: SHAPING A NEW ERA.” The first principle states focusing on systems, rather than technologies. Secondly to focus on ensuring that emerging technologies truly empower, rather than direct citizens. Thirdly is to act collectively by design, not by default-which means the Fourth Industrial Revolution is at its initial state and we have limited knowledge on it. Sharing and working on the shared knowledge collectively will yield a better industrial revolution outcome. And lastly, is to think of values and ethics as an important feature, not as a nuisance of technological systems.[16] It means along with technological advancement one should not forget our core of human ethics. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution builds on top of the third, keeping heed of these principles when approaching the Fourth Industrial Revolution will produce a better and controlled technological advancement and growth to humanity’s evolution.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has exposed humanity to a new ground of innovation. In the field of Biology, it has assisted with the knowledge of Genome editing. Even though Gene editing is not as common in human beings, with the right approach it can advance the human species of many genetic diseases or attributes, but with the wrong step can also cause harm. The initial Industrial revolution of humanity had started with the advancement of a generation; if we are not careful, the Fourth Industrial revolution can lead to hurting a lot of people in this revolution by losing jobs, human rights, or even their lives. Even though the Fourth Industrial revolution possesses enormous innovative capabilities, but irresponsible use can lead to catastrophic consequences. As we know, there is no reset button for the existence of humanity.

[1]. “What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution? CNBC Explains,” Last modified (n.d.), Accessed on November 18, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9rZOa3CUC8.

[2]. “Modern History Sourcebook: Salon Life,” Last modified (n.d.), Accessed on November 18, 2020, https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/MOD/18SALONS.ASP

[3]. “What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?,” Last modified (n.d.), Accessed on November 18, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpW9JcWxKq0.

[4]. “What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?,” Last modified (n.d.), Accessed on November 18, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpW9JcWxKq0.

[5]. “What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution? CNBC Explains,” Last modified (n.d.), Accessed on November 18, 2020, https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/robinson-lowell.asp

[6]. “What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?,” Last modified (n.d.), Accessed on November 18, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpW9JcWxKq0.

[7]. By Ralf Dreischmeier, Karalee Close, and Philippe Trichet, “The Digital Imperative,” Last modified (n.d.), Accessed on November 18, 2020, https://image-src.bcg.com/Images/The_Digital_Imperative_Mar_2015_tcm9-80124.pdf

[8]. “In an industry first, Pokemon Go hits 500M in 60 days,” Last modified (n.d.), Accessed on November 18, 2020, https://www.appannie.com/en/insights/mobile-gaming/industry-first-pokemon-go-hits-500m/

[9]. “Modern History Sourcebook: Harriet Robinson: Lowell Mill Girls,” Last modified (n.d.), Accessed on November 18, 2020, https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/robinson-lowell.asp

[10]. Philbeck, Thomas, and Nicholas Davis. “THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: SHAPING A NEW ERA.” Journal of International Affairs 72, no. 1 (2018): 17–22. Accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.jstor.org/stable/26588339.

[11]. Philbeck, Thomas, and Nicholas Davis. “THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: SHAPING A NEW ERA.” Journal of International Affairs 72, no. 1 (2018): 17–22. Accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.jstor.org/stable/26588339.

[12]. Philbeck, Thomas, and Nicholas Davis. “THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: SHAPING A NEW ERA.” Journal of International Affairs 72, no. 1 (2018): 17–22. Accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.jstor.org/stable/26588339.

[13]. Philbeck, Thomas, and Nicholas Davis. “THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: SHAPING A NEW ERA.” Journal of International Affairs 72, no. 1 (2018): 17–22. Accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.jstor.org/stable/26588339.

[14]. Philbeck, Thomas, and Nicholas Davis. “THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: SHAPING A NEW ERA.” Journal of International Affairs 72, no. 1 (2018): 17–22. Accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.jstor.org/stable/26588339.

[15]. Philbeck, Thomas, and Nicholas Davis. “THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: SHAPING A NEW ERA.” Journal of International Affairs 72, no. 1 (2018): 17–22. Accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.jstor.org/stable/26588339.

[16]. Philbeck, Thomas, and Nicholas Davis. “THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: SHAPING A NEW ERA.” Journal of International Affairs 72, no. 1 (2018): 17–22. Accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.jstor.org/stable/26588339.

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