Change is Not Constant, it’s Exponential!
⇒ It’s getting harder and harder for any of us to be ready for the future when more and more it seems the future is now!
In my previous post; New Economy, New Rules; I described the exponential rate of change that’s affecting economies and the lives of people all over the world. For millennia, folks could count on living a very similar life of there parents, and even their grandparents. Important advances, such as the invention of writing, the printing press, and the steam engine (among many others over the years), have contributed to the acceleration of change. Today, technological advances are coming so fast, and so furious, most people barely have time to keep up.
What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
Klaus Schwab, is the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum and Author of The Fourth Industrial Revolution
He sums it up like this:
“The First Industrial Revolution used steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres”
The Technologies That Will Change the World
The world was altered dramatically during and after each of the previous industrial revolutions. What sort of changes can we expect over the coming decades? We can find clues to our future by looking at the state of the most important technologies of the 21st century, and how they are converging.
- The Internet of Things → Our machines are talking to each other. This has been going on for years behind the scenes in industry. Today we’re seeing it in the form of so called “Smart Home” devices. We can now have our fridges order groceries for us; we can adjust our lights and our thermostats and even see what’s going on in our homes from the other side of the world. We can control all of this from our phone. And now we can integrate all of these different applications using a smart assistant, like those provided by products like Amazon Echo and Google Home.
- Artificial Intelligence → Our machines are thinking for themselves. From Deep Blue, to Watson and now AlphaGo. Thinking computers are getting so smart, they can drive cars!
- Robotics → Our machines can interact in the real world. Paired with AI…what could go wrong? Seriously though, robots are no longer science fiction; they haven’t been for some time. For years they have been used in factories and for very specialized uses, such as search and rescue. These days we have robot vacuums in our houses, and engineers and students are routinely competing to improve the state of the art.
- Autonomous Vehicles → Our machines will safely move us from place to place.
- 3D printing → We now have machines that can make three dimensional objects, providing an relatively low cost alternative to mass production.
- Nanotechnology → We can now manipulate materials on an extremely small scale. Nanotechnology is allowing scientists to create new devices and materials to be used in a variety of areas, such as consumer products, energy production, medicine and electronics.
- Biotech → Biotechnology is being used in many different ways. In health care scientists are using biotech to find and test new diagnostic methods and treatments. Using advances in gene sequencing over the past two decades (made possible by ever increasing computing speed speed and power), scientists are making advances in non-medical areas as well. Biotech is contributing to major advances in agriculture and other industries and may have major impacts on our planet’s environment (for better or for worse).
- Blockchain → Technically, not a new technology; it’s really just an ingenious software program that can record and track various transactions over a network of computers. Blockchain is the basis for dozens of new decentralized digital currencies; the best known example is bitcoin.
- The Global Internet Economy → The internet does not seem new to us anymore. But it continues to change and grow faster and faster each year. What the internet was 10 years ago, is much different from the internet of today. Think about it. Where was Facebook and Twitter ten years ago? How much did you buy online ten years ago vs. today. And the growth of this online economy continues to grow. A recent Pew Research Study shows that about two thirds of the world’s population has at least occasional access to the internet. That’s a market of about 5 billion potential customers! With increased connectivity in the developing this number will continue to rise.
Where do you think the best opportunities will arise in the fourth industrial revolution? Will you be one of the winners or will you be left behind?