• The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres’ - Schwab, 2015

    The Fourth Industrial Revolution is on its way, but what does it mean and how does it relate to our individual well-being and the well-being of society as a whole?

    Ever think how much the world has evolved in just a couple of centuries? Industrial Revolutions have prompted unfathomable change in human life and society. Let’s briefly look at the story so far:

    1st Industrial Revolution - 18th - 19th centuries, initiated by the invention of the steam engine, resulting in a change of societies from rural to urban as a result of industrial mechanized production. 

    2nd Industrial Revolution - 1870 – 1914 - spearheaded by the generation of electrical power, resulting in mass production.                      

    3rd Industrial Revolution – 1980s – present - the Digital Revolution rests on the automation of manual processes brought about by the progress in electronics, Information Technology, and the internet, resulting in automate production. 

    Mechanization, massification, automation have been the steps leading up to where we stand today.

  • 4th Industrial Revolution - describes the integration of real, physical world with the technological world. Consider the popular buzzwords of artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, cyber-physical systems, the internet of things (IoT), biotechnology, and so on. The core of our human being is becoming deeply transformed by the gradual change in our perception and our valuation process. What we value and how we value it may no longer be the same. 

    The 4th Industrial Revolution has started as an extension of the Third, but three distinct features set it apart:

    1. Scope: The vast variety of fields that are included in the extent of this revolution.
    2. Impact: The severity of the impact on each and every field within its scope.
    3. Speed: The rapid progress shows that the impact is not linear but comes across at an exponential rate. 

    The impact is already reaching further, extending into our relationships and personal identity as the physical and newly formed virtual realms become blurred. In some cases, technology has already been planted in human bodies (Davies et al., 2016).

    In the workplace, smart technology in our production facilities, in our offices - connected machines capable of learning, interacting, analysing and deciding will lead to independent autonomous, self-regulating systems that will shape our industries, production, our work environment, and health on a scale and manner never previously considered possible (Marr et al., 2016).

  • Professor Klaus Schwab, German engineer, economist and founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, wrote: “The changes are so profound that, from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril. My concern, however, is that decision-makers are too often caught in traditional, linear (and non-disruptive) thinking or too absorbed by immediate concerns to think strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation shaping our future."

    As far as the Fourth Industrial Revolution is concerned, the vastness of its scope, the magnitude of its potential impact and its pure complexity implies an enormous degree of uncertainty regarding exactly how it will unfold. 

    For my money this will create an unparalleled opportunity for us to elevate our human race to take more care of our well-being and happiness, individually, among our communities and globally. But I daresay there’s going to be huge upheaval and disruption before we get there! 

    Revolutions are never easy, but are necessary for progress. Face change, adapt, evolve.


    Have a revolutionary day!