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Sunday, October 20, 2019

What exactly IS "the fourth industrial revolution?"

A Slate article got my attention.
If ["the Fourth Industrial Revolution"] strikes you as the sort of futurist buzzspeak you’d expect to hear at a rich guy conference or printed on a consultant’s slide deck, well, that’s because it is. The Fourth Industrial Revolution was the title of a 2016 book by Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, and was a theme this year at the group’s annual summit in Davos, Switzerland, which brings together the world’s jet set each winter to hob knob and listen drowsily to panel discussions before hitting very expensive private parties.

Many economists would tell you that we have lived through three industrial revolutions. The first started with the steam engine, the second was brought about by advances like electricity, and the third saw the rise of computing. Schwab says we’re at the start of a fourth, which he describes as “a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” Think artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, self-driving cars, 3D printing, biotech, cybernetics, and such. At Davos, Schwab wanted attendees to contemplate not just how these new innovations could usher in brilliant new advances for business and humanity, but also the danger that they would lead to greater inequality…
"Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing. Artificially-intelligent robots. Self-driving cars. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing. The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed. Previous industrial revolutions liberated humankind from animal power, made mass production possible and brought digital capabilities to billions of people. This Fourth Industrial Revolution is, however, fundamentally different. It is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human."
BTW, in the foregoing video, Dr. Naomi Oreskes at 05:08 - 05:44.

Naomi is awesome, but sometimes I wish some of these other Serious Futurist Thinkers would get their nomenclatures straight.

In the nineteenth century, steam-powered printing and the telegraph, abundant coal, and locomotives on national rail systems meshed in a common general-purpose technology platform to manage, power, and move society, giving rise to the First Industrial Revolution. In the twentieth century, centralized electricity, the telephone, radio and television, cheap oil, and internal combustion vehicles on national road systems converged to create an infrastructure for the Second Industrial Revolution.

Now, we are in the midst of a Third Industrial Revolution. The digitalized Communication Internet is converging with a digitized Renewable Energy Internet, powered by solar and wind electricity, and a digitized Mobility and Logistics Internet of autonomous electric and fuel-cell vehicles, powered by green energy, atop an Internet of Things (IoT) platform, embedded in the commercial, residential, and industrial building stock, that will transform society and the economy in the twenty-first century. Sensors are being attached to every device, appliance, machine, and contrivance, connecting every “thing” with every human being in a digital neural network that extends across the entire global economy. Already, billions of sensors are attached to resource flows, warehouses, road systems, factory production lines, the electricity transmission grid, offices, homes, stores, and vehicles, continually monitoring their status and performance and feeding Big Data back to the emerging Communication Internet, Renewable Energy Internet, and Mobility and Logistics Internet. By 2030, there could be trillions of sensors connecting the human and natural environment in a global distributed intelligent network.

Connecting everything and everyone via the Internet of Things offers enormous economic benefits. In this expanded digital economy, individuals, families, and enterprises will be able to connect in their homes and workplaces to the IoT and access Big Data flowing across the World Wide Web that affects their supply chains, production and services, and every aspect of their social lives. They can then mine that Big Data with their own analytics and create their own algorithms and apps to increase their aggregate efficiency and productivity, reduce their carbon footprint, and lower the marginal cost of producing, distributing, and consuming goods and services and recycling waste, making their businesses and homes greener and more efficient in an emerging postcarbon global economy. (Marginal cost is the cost of producing an additional unit of a good or service after fixed costs have been absorbed.)…

Rifkin, Jeremy (2019-09-09T23:58:59). The Green New Deal. St. Martin's Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
"Third?" Fourth?" Whatever.

Yeah, and that thought always takes me back to Frase's "Quadrant IV."
The Trump "Administration" and their entrenched extractive economy status quo incumbent sectors have made absolutely no secret of their belligerent ad hominem opposition to anything they characterize as "socialism." Just in case you've not been paying attention.


They're doing great work.

BTW, see one of my prior AI posts:

"Assuming / Despite / If / Then / Therefore / Else..." Could AI do "argument analysis?"


More to come...

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