Historically, starting with the agrarian revolution 10,000 years ago, the world has gone through three revolutions thus far; the invention of the steam engine (1760 – 1840), mass production and the advent of electricity (19th century into the 20th) and finally the digital revolution (1960s – 1990s).

Today, we are on the verge of a fourth industrial revolution that is impacting the way we live, work and relate to one another. A revolution that is moving at a speed faster than ever before and at a breadth that is transforming industries in ways that are yet to unfold. What makes this revolution different than the others is the interaction occurring between technological breakthrough and the physical, digital and biological domains.

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To better reap the benefits of this revolution and overcome its challenges, it is the responsibility of all stakeholders – governments, business, academia, and civil society – to work together to better understand the emerging trends and their impacts.

Upcoming Transformative Technologies

The new developments and technologies that are shaping the fourth industrial revolution have one main thing in common – they are all made possible through digital and computing power. Following is a list of the key technologies obtained from Klaus Schwab’s book: The Fourth Industrial Revolution

PHYSICAL

Autonomous Vehicles

3D Printing

Advanced Robotics

New Material

DIGITAL

The Internet of Things (IoT)

Bitcoin and the Blockchain

Technology enabled platforms

BIOLOGICAL

Genetic Sequencing

Synthetic Biology

Bio Printing

Impact

The speed and breadth of the fourth industrial revolution will have tremendous impacts on our economy, our society and our culture. There are many impacts than can be anticipated and others that will take shape as the revolution materializes.

The following figure summarizes the main areas of impact that Schwab outlines in his book:

The Way Forward

Finding ourselves at the beginning of the fourth Industrial Revolution, it is up to us to leverage the technological disruption and overcome the challenges it creates and transform them into opportunities.

This can be done with the cooperation of all stakeholders (leaders from business, government, civil society, faith, academia and the young generation) through mobilizing their collective wisdom of minds, hearts and souls. As Klaus Schwab outlines in his book; leaders must apply four types of intelligence to shape the future of the revolution:

According to Schwab, the following three steps outline the way forward for embracing the fourth industrial revolution:

  1. Continue to raise awareness and drive understanding across all sectors of society and stop thinking in compartmentalized ways when making decisions.
  2. Develop positive, common and comprehensive narratives about how we can shape the fourth industrial revolution for current and future generations.
  3. Embark on restructuring our economic, social and political systems to take full advantage of the opportunities presented.

Companies and organizations must Walk the Talk and increase the cooperation and dialogues at the local, national and supra-national levels to be able to get the conditions right and to enable us to adapt to the coming revolution and achieve substantial progress on all levels.

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