The 4th Industrial Revolution – How does this affect our working lives?
The 4th Industrial Revolution – How does this affect our working lives?
Post written by Paragon Interiors   July 30, 2018

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With every technological advancement comes greater complexity and fresh challenges.

Looking back, we learn that Britain pioneered the 1st Industrial Revolution in the late 1700’s with the introduction of special-purpose machinery, factories and mass production. It revolutionised the times and paved the way for a more dynamic approach to the creation of wealth through greater employment opportunities, higher production yields and improved manufacturing efficiencies – particularly in the iron and textile industries that prevailed at the time. Also, the invention of the steam engine train provided more sophisticated transportation that enabled industries to access new markets faster and move manufactured goods in bulk.

Europe and the USA were quick to cotton on to this more progressive and profitable business methodology. All aboard the band wagon! The sweeping socio-economic changes back then redefined the way we do business and inevitably, pulled the people into its maelstrom, never to be the same again.

The pace at which change is happening today, especially in the field of technology, is exponential and loosely packaged as the “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”. We say “loosely” because no sooner is it packaged than it bursts out of its packaging brandishing something newer, faster, more efficient and infinitely more complicated.

A book titled “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” written by Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, is a great frame of reference on this subject. Technology, dubbed a double-edged sword of “great promise and great peril”, has a rather ominous ring. One is either caught up in the tsunami of change it has created or left to drown with the dinosaurs.

Its impact can be seen and felt all around us as we’re sucked deeper into its evolution and consumed by an unstoppable force that gains momentum by the nanosecond. Schwab speaks of mobile supercomputing, robotics, self-driving vehicles, neuro-technological brain enhancements and genetic editing. Not to mention blockchains, quantum computing and nanotechnology. It’s changing the way we work, live and relate to one another. Apparently, it’s even challenging what it means to be human.

Quantum computing and nanotechnology are linked in that nanotechnology is assisting the development of quantum computing.

Nanotechnology incorporates science, medicine, engineering, computing and robotics. It offers the potential for new and faster kinds of computers, more efficient power sources and life-saving medical treatments. However, the risks include economic disruption and possible threats to security, privacy, health and the environment. One thing is for sure, nanotechnology is here to stay and will make a significant contribution to shaping our future.

If one employs one’s imagination, nanotechnology is also Animal Farm scary except that nanobots replace the pigs in the story. American engineer, Eric Drexler, came up with the term “grey goo” – a hypothetical scenario whereby molecular nanotechnology produces out-of-control robots (nanobugs) that consume all bio mass on earth as they rapidly replicate themselves, take control and bring an end to human existence. What fun!

With respect to quantum computing, the computer transistors in use today are as small as we can make them. So, computer scientists are busy pursuing possible solutions at atomic and subatomic levels (using nanotechnology). It seems that the scientists have their work cut out for them because atoms do not conform to the traditional rules of physics! The data processing capacity of quantum computing is mind-blowing. It’s believed to compute 100 million times faster than the current technology of a present-day computer. Its key function will be to solve optimisation problems. The good news is that its complexity will make a positive difference to, amongst other things, data security. We all live in hope that hackers will be forced to retire one day – the sooner, the better. Not yet available but it’s just a matter of time.

Schwab goes on to say that the current Industrial Revolution is very different from the previous three in that it embodies a range of new technologies that are merging physical, digital and biological spheres, and affecting all disciplines, economies and industries. Schwab quite rightly points out that it may be connecting many more people to digital networks and improving efficiencies of organisations but how will it be adapted, applied and regulated by governments, businesses, civil society and individuals? He contends it will all be within our control providing we’re able to collaborate globally and overcome the issues of geography, sectors and disciplines. Whilst grasping the infinite opportunities technology has to offer, he advises that we take collective responsibility for them, ever mindful that it should benefit all, equip and empower people first and constantly reinforce that all of the new technologies are primarily tools made by people, for people.

At Paragon Interiors, we remain intrigued by the evolution and application of technology and how we can put it to the best possible use. The changing shape of office interiors, clients’ needs and how to deliver the end product as quickly and seamlessly as we can, remains a challenge. We love what we do, we do it well and we’re keen to integrate technology more fully into our business. We invite you to journey with us and help us ‘bring it on’!

References

Schwab, K. (2016). The Fourth Industrial Revolution. World Economic Forum. Cologny, Switzerland.