I’ve posed this question before, but have you paused to consider that you’re living through an industrial revolution?
Does this inspire or intimidate you? Or, perhaps, it’s simply a fact of life. We’re in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as IR4.0. While the pace of change has escalated of late, our ancestors also lived through significant transitions. Consider three earlier industrial revolutions:
- 1784 – Introduction of mechanical production, powered by water and steam
- 1870 – Division of labour with the introduction of electrically powered mass production: Assembly lines were among the early examples in the 1870s. Typewriters were mass produced not long after, and Henry Ford’s automotive assembly lines followed in 1913.
- 1969 – Electronics, IT systems and further automation of production: The 1960s were a time of great music, cultural change and PLCs. Huh? PLCs? Engineer Dick Morley created the first programmable logic controller (PLC), in response to needs in the automotive industry. These industrial digital computers simplified on and offswitches (and more), which until that point were controlled by a series of hard-wired relays. They were implemented in a broad range of products, including robotic devices.
For some of us, it’s our second industrial revolution
Think about it. Readers who were around in the 60s and 70s have been through this before – although it’s likely that we took all the changes adults were absorbing in that era for granted. It was part of our landscape, just as readers at the other end of the generational spectrum have not known life without computers.
About the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0)
According to Klaus Schwab, a professor who founded The World Economic Forum (WEF) in 1971, is already upon us. Dr. Schwab’s credentials include doctorates in Engineering and Economics, and a Master of Public Administration.
Schwab and others note that Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) are all around us. They take the form of genome editing, artificially intelligent robotics systems (AI), smart grids, autonomous (self-driving) car systems and more.
As explained by the World Economic Forum, they involve “… the Fourth Industrial Revolution represents entirely new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies and even our human bodies. Examples include genome editing, new forms of machine intelligence, breakthrough materials and approaches to governance that rely on cryptographic methods such as the blockchain.”
All this, of course, leads to the focus of my latest Weekend Poll:
How do you feel about IR4.0 and automation?
Please take a couple of minutes to complete the poll below. As always, I look forward to hearing what you have to say and will publish results next week.