How to Make Sense of The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Original article written for The W.H.Y Community, available here

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Keeping up with The Pace of Change

We live in a world in which the pace of change is unprecedented, thanks to exponential shifts triggered by contemporary automation, data exchange and manufacturing technologies. What is the fourth industrial revolution and why is it crucial for us to understand its implications on our lives?

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We truly live in a spectacular era. Yes, we are constantly reminded of the perils of our world – terrorism, threats of economic crisis, unprecedented immigration patterns and tense superpower relations. Whichever way you lean politically, the chances are that these are issues that will feature prominently in your life over the next few years. Yet, there are equally favourable chances that companies such as Bitcoin, Boom Financial, CommonBond, DriveNow, Prosper, Airbnb, Tesla, Oculus Rift,DriveNow, Google and Uber may also shake things up in your life in the not too distant future if they are not doing so already. True to the age old adage, there is no opportunity without a gamble.

Whilst action is indeed needed when it comes to addressing the aforementioned challenges, we, as a human race today, stand on the cusp of changes in our history that are so profound that ”there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril.” Klaus Schwab, Founder and Chairman of The World Economic Forum.

 What is The Fourth Industrial Revolution?

You may be wondering where such an assertion, as spectacular as the very changes it describes, takes its point of departure. Well, let’s start with the device that you’re using to read this article. Within the next 20 years, this device, be it a computer, tablet or Smartphone, is going to be at the heart and soul of the shift in the manner in which we interact with the world around us. As concepts such as the Internet of things, robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology, quantum computing, energy storage and others flare up from being prospects in their infancy to being the driving forces of our world, we can well and truly talk of what has come to be dubbed, the fourth industrial revolution.

Yet this is not a revolution of steam and industry – of years of experimentation and incremental change. It is not a revolution of grease, tar and concrete – this is an explosion, a stylish matrix of happenings that can and will change the status quo, if it is managed properly.

Like its predecessors, the fourth industrial revolution looks set to bring a wave on unprecedented changes in its wake. However it differs in its scope and scale in that when the technologies described previously work together, the results that they will produce are exponential as opposed to linear, creating effects that will alter what, how and who we are. Moreover, this fusion of technologies will, for the first time in history, blur the lines between physical, digital and biological spheres. But what does all this mean for you?

 Making Sense of The Fourth Industrial Revolution

As spectacular as the promises and the potential that the fourth industrial revolution are, we are, as it stands, at a point in history where we have yet to comprehend what exactly the revolution is and what it means for us. Our rudimental knowledge of how to respond to the technological forces driving the world forward is therein a limitation to the impact that these very forces can have on our governments, companies, and life, as we know it.

The sheer scope, scale and pace of change orchestrated by the technological changes inherent to the fourth industrial revolution are vast and difficult to grasp. Therefore, the key to implementing them successfully lies in LEADING THE CHANGE in a strategic and holistic manner. Those with the drive and the means to push for change need to:

  • Understand the scope of the technology driving the fourth industrial revolution
  • Grasp the pace of change that this revolution promises and scale it down to context-specific understandings
  • Generate a dialogue around this revolution that allows for knowledge sharing, game-changing conversation and immersive experiences that create and nurture an understanding of how to move forward

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The W.H.Y. aims to gather the talents and forces that can execute this paradigm shift and give them a framework within which they can craft their potential, channel their creativity, interact with like-minded people than can and ultimately, change the world. Our ability to do so ultimately depends on how well we keep up with the blistering pace of change. It is this ability to manage and respond to change that must lead the case for exponential change, which needs to be holistic and digested into context-specific scenarios if we hope to address the perennial alienation of the underprivileged.

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