What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution all about?

Blog post by Marica Micallef

According to a May 15, 2020 World Economic Forum (WEF) article, COVID-19 offers an opportunity to “reset and reshape” the world. So, we are being made to make a transition to the Fourth Revolution which I have already referred to slightly in another blog. But what is it truly about? Should we be worried or should we “trust” that all is being taken care of? When Klaus Schwab was asked questions about this in the World Economic Forum, his answers raised a lot of concern. First, he was questioned what impact of Covid19 and how should countries and companies respond to it. In his answer, he explained what the Fourth Revolution is all about:

“We are seeing today in terms of Artificial Intelligence, the internet of things, cloud computing, advanced robotics and many others, together constitute a new phase in human development on power or even exceeding previous industrial revolutions in scale and impact. Covid19, if anything has accelerated this ongoing industrial revolution. If covid19 had even happened 10 years ago, we could not have imagined moving entire companies, schools, and government offices so fast online. Today such is reality. So, the 4th industrial revolution has become a reality not just for the pioneers but for a broad range of people and workers. We are also seeing macroeconomic consequences changes. Big Tech companies such as Apple, Samsung, Alphabet, Amazon or Facebook but the last months, have further cemented their leading positions in the market while others have started to lag further behind.  That will prove to be not only the case now but will be a PERMANENT CONSEQUENCE OF COVID19. But since past few months have also shown that the 4th Industrial Revolution WILL NOT BE BENEFICIAL TO ALL unless we make conscious choices that this is the case.  Disadvantaged school students, unskilled workers and non-digitized companies and governments will feel the impact much more than others. MOREOVER, BOTH CORPORATE AND INCOMING QUALITY HAVE WORSENED during the last months.  So, when we build the postcode world, when WE DO THE GREAT RESET, one of the most important places to start will be to ensure that the fruits of the 4th industrial revolution are really shared by all. It starts with equitable investments particularly in education and reskilling and it also implies we come up with a new framework to regulate DATA OWNERSHIP, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY and competition in the 4th Industrial Revolution. This requires PUBLIC PRIVATE COOPERATION.

Then he was questioned about what type of leadership is required for international corporations to overcome global challenges such as Covid19, the U.S.-China conflicts etc?” His answer was:

“In the short term, we are likely to see an acceleration of economic deglobalisation, a trend which is apparent. LESS GOODS WILL BE PRODUCED AND TRADED GLOBALLY.  Covid19 has caused a disruption as we all know in global supply chains.  Companies will try and source more products from neighbouring or nearby countries to ensure a greater supply chain resilience IN CASE OF FUTURE DISRUPTIONS and indirectly we are also seeing a negative impact of Covid19 on global political and economic relations.  Covid19 has not been good for U.S.-China relations leading to a worsening of what we call THE NEW COLD WAR.  This will have LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES on global economic cooperation since companies will very often now emphasise RESILIENCE OVER COSTS with China having become in the past the workshop of the world since reassuring will happen over the next years, WILL LEAD TO MAJOR DISRUPTIONS particularly affecting Korea.  For a career, the combination of the short-term and long-term trend means it will be more important than before to invest in relations, to invest in facilities, in all parts of the world, including other parts of the emerging Asia, Europe and The Americas.  NO COMPANY OR COUNTRY CAN RELY ON PRODUCTION only in one part of the world.  We must avoid also that this NEW COLD WAR ESCALATES. We have too many shared interests to allow the global system to disintegrate.[1]

So, it seems that this global pandemic is fostering yet a third wave, which in the long run can be much more impactful in our lives than the first two which were related to health. This third wave consists in accelerating the implantation process of the fourth industrial revolution. [2] I guess we are heading towards darker times.


[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZyzI7ojsho

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2093791119304056

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