Anshu Padayachee, chief executive of SATN, said of concern in the country and globally was the loss of jobs and social and economic inequalities.
“We are the people that create these intellectuals, these scientists, these innovators and therefore we had to start looking quickly (at these issues) before we were too late for any insurance against this,” she said.
Padayachee said the world’s future populations and citizens would not be prepared for the rapidly changing society, if higher education failed them by not addressing these challenges.
“This is where academics and institutions like ourselves will look for solutions to these burning questions that plague us.”
Nomusa Dube-Ncube, MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional affairs (Cogta), said that for the provincial government the Fourth Industrial Revolution was no longer an abstract or academic subject but a reality of our modern times.
“Technology and trends are changing the way we live and the way we work. The transition towards knowledge-based society and inno- vation-based economy is anchored on the heels of advances in technology as well as research and development,” she said.
Dube-Ncube said the government was committed to maximising the opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution to achieve the national development goals.
Dube-Ncube added that the Fourth Industrial Revolution was the means through which to improve service delivery.
“Working with municipalities we have been looking at various ways of improving service delivery using technology, and that’s why this topic is so close to my heart,” said Dube-Ncube.
Theoretical physicist and head of innovation at SAP Africa Dr Adriana Marais said if we did not think carefully about how we contributed to the present we would very quickly arrive at a future that we had not planned for.
“We need each and everyone of our heartfelt and creative contributions to create a future of which we can all be proud of on this planet - and perhaps others,” she said.
Marais, who is one of the 100 Mars One Project astronaut candidates in the running to move to the red planet in 2026, spoke about her research in quantum biology and the origins of life, the technology required to sustain terrestrial life on Mars and the various projects aiming to send crewed missions there.
She described how the establishment and potential discovery of evidence of life on Mars, would be one of the most profound possible contributions of science to humanity.