The Industrial Revolution is not in the past. Most people would think something along the lines of the transition from manual labor to means of machinery manufacturing. The First Industrial Revolution mechanized production with the discovery of the use of water and steam. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third is the automation of production using electronics and information technologies. And now the Fourth Industrial Revolution is here.
Building off of our developments from the Third, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will represent incredible changes within our societies. Occupations will change, disappear, new positions will be created and a new world will be defined. With the lines beginning to blur between physical, digital and biological spheres, almost unimaginable things are beginning to take shape.
Many people worry that this Industry 4.0 will hurt emerging markets as processes are changed; while robots and artificial intelligence become the default option, places that provide cheap labour suddenly has lost competitive edge. During the Second industrial revolution, automation allowed us to reduce error and increase the consistency of quality. The Third brought us the PC which resulted in a call for a greater labour force. Automation should not be something to be afraid of, it's been around for literally centuries. The adaptation of robots and ai into the manufacturing industry is just the next step.
We already use robotic technology in many areas, retail being one of the big ones. Warehouses run by Gap, Staples and other companies have been using autonomous robots for years to collect products from the shelves to put together online orders. One of the biggest benefits that technology has brought us is the ability to not only increase, but enable higher productivity.
“If you look at the agricultural sector, IT solutions are evolving to give farmers more efficient ways of farming to boost production and reduce costs. Microsoft used the perfect example where predictive analytics was used in a cloud solution to inform a farmer when the optimal time was to inseminate dairy cows to boost milk production. It was found that the cow does a little dance during estrus and by attaching an RFID sensor to the cow’s leg a message is sent to the farmer’s mobile device through the cloud. ”
The Fourth Industrial Revolution can bring new advantages and improvements to places like India, where majority of its large population live in rural areas where they lack even basic amenities. Where water shortage is a common occurrence, Anil Rajvanshi from the IndiaTimes explains how the use of container-based high-tech precision farming could provide these people with an increased, more consistent income.
Ghana’s CocoaLink provides farming, social and marketing information to cocoa farmers but also gives core messaging on issues like child labour. Countries that are embracing this technological revolution aren't only benefitting in the business and industry, but it has provided the opportunity to take a look at the things that need to be addressed.
The benefits are not only applicable to the business world, but if you were looking for a more personal understanding, here it is: simply put, it gives people a chance. The impact on our societies will include a more effective work force, more integrated communities, and better standards of living driven by a higher degree of personal freedom.
Birgit tells her story about trying on an exoskeleton for the first time, and in her article she said this: "Often, small changes can mean the world". The developments that have been coming with the Fourth Industrial Revolution is incredible. It has given many people second chances and new opportunities to live life as themselves.
The coming of this revolution might be frightening and unavoidable, but is adaptable and is allowing us to connect with the world; proceeding to bring with it great prospects that technology and innovation can offer.