CAPE TOWN – The fourth industrial revolution. What was the third? What was the second? Bet you couldn’t tell me without asking google.
So according to Google - it went steam power and mechanisation; then mass production; then information technology and I guess the latest is a culmination of all of those things. Robots and Artificial intelligence.
There is a little bit of trepidation when it comes to 4IR. The fear goes as follows: not only are robots going to be able to do anything a human can do as the hardware becomes more resilient , they will be able to do it faster, smarter and most probably cheaper. They will learn and process in ways humans cannot and eventually rule the world. Some stop at frictional unemployment (a mismatch of employees for jobs), others at unemployment (just not enough jobs altogether) but however they put it, it’s tough not to think about the end of the world.
As a founder of a technology business that deals primarily with work (vocational and trades) it’s a pretty pertinent topic and one that we are paying a lot of attention to. With a little bit of reading and talking to some wiser heads, we can probably rest a bit easy. Here’s why.
The name, industrial revolution, is purposefully daunting - and perhaps a tad dramatic. I’d prefer something like the fourth industrial reshuffling. The world has endured a fair few of these reshuffles; every so often technological improvements necessitate the reshuffling of the shape of an economy. Some jobs become obsolete and others are created. It’s certainly never world ending. For example: the word “Luddite” (one opposed to industrialisation, futurisation etc.) comes from the secret organisation, who in the 19th century, drove a rebellion destroying textile machinery that automated looms for fear of losing their livelihood. The economic term “Luddite fallacy” also was inspired by the Luddites and the irrationality of the fear of technology.