The term "The Fourth Industrial Revolution" was first coined by Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the Geneva-based W.E.F (World Economic Forum), in 2016. Since then the term has become a major point of discussion among the global key thinkers, businessmen, shareholders and the government. There is a wide discussion among the global experts about the repurcussion of this major Industrial Revolution in the way it will affect our lives. Schwab asks 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." Before we begin to see the impacts that the 4th Industrial Revolution will create in the world, lets look back and see the 3 Industrial Revolutions that have happened so far.
The first Industrial Revolution
The first Industrial Revolution happened in Europe and the US around 1760 and continued till 1820 to 1840. The revolution made the world see the increasing use of Steam engine and brought mechanical innovations from the old conventional hand production methods. Development of machine tools, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes were the key bringings of this revolution.
The Second Industrial Revolution
The world saw the the Second Industrial Revolution in the period between 1870 and 1914 (around). It is also known as the Technological Revolution and introduced mass production through the usage of assembly lines and electrification.
The Third Industrial Revolution
The introduction of the mainframe computers, personal computers and Internet marked the beginning of the third Industrial Revolution and saw a tremendous growth in the Information Technology sector.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Rapid innovations in technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of things (IoT), and Blockchain which are not only affecting the way businesses works but also affecting the way we live and behave in the world is marking the onset of the fourth Industrial Revolution.
The fourth Industrial Revolution is different from the third in the way that this revolution is breaking the lines between the physical and the digital world.
The advancements in technology- making humans interact with machines, as in case of virtual assistants; making smart physical devices gaining the real time data of humans, as in case with smart watches (using smart sensors to keep track of the blood pressure and heartbeat rate); digital twin being used in the manufacturing sector to optimize the processes is breaking the boundaries between the digital and the physical world.
It will be unfair here to put the advancements in technology limited to these 3 examples when the innovations are happening daily and have much wide scope than ever.
We are living in a world which is continuously changing and demands for change in ourselves too.
Impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
There is a wide list of arguments concerning with this revolution. Some believe that this revolution will see the major uplifttment of the human era where human will reach the zenith of creating the most advanced technological machines which will not only work flawlessly but will also have the potential to substitute the humans. This obviously takes many of us in fear to be replaced by machines in future. Key Leaders like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawkings have already reacted to these technological innovations by pointing out the dangerous future we all are heading towards.
Obviously, we are going to see much innovations and advancements in science and technology which will not only prove a boon to businesses but will also create transparency for the common people. Businesses will expand their businesses by knowing their customers from the smart Machine Learning algorithms and will majorly shift towards online trade, while common people will have more access to the information over the different government policies and strategies which will improve transparency in the democratic system.
But there are tensions too of losing an individual privacy in the 4th Industrial revolution when companies will have more data of their customers than ever before. The latest Facebook news on the privacy issues of millions of users and the Ransomware attack still worries the common man for his privacy in the fast changing digital world.
Unemployment is yet another issue which make this Industrial revolution a fearful one for many people, when there is a fear spread among the masses of losing their jobs by a more skilled robot. The chances of losing jobs to Robots is the far off issue but the chances of losing jobs over more skilled people is what I feel will be more prevalent in the future. Many key thinkers believe that there will be a time in future when inequality will spread in the society in terms of the jobs available to the people. This inequality will spread due to the skill gap. A highly skilled person will be the most required in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution while a low skilled person will suffer from the sufficient wages then. Companies will need employees who can gear them with this fast changing world while the low skilled employee will be somewhere left. This is the major thing where we all should be working on.
It is the time we understand this major shift in our lives that we are going to face in future in terms of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It is the time we should be more upgraded and shift our focus to the latest technical skills.
The discussions on the Fourth Industrial Revolution cannot be limited to the present scope of the article only, when there are lot of other factors also involved in it. I have put some useful videos on this article which will take you a bit more closer to the major industrial revolution of this century-the Fourth Industrial Revolution.