On 12th December 2015, Foreign Affairs published an article on The Fourth Industrial Revolution, What It Means and How to Respond.

Penned by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, the article argued:

“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.”

Past and present, Professor Schwab identified:

  • The First Industrial Revolution: Fuelled by water and steam power to mechanize production.

  • The Second: Driven by electric power to affect mass production.

  • The Third: Leveraging electronics and information technology to automate production.

  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Building on the Third, driven by a fusion of technologies blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological.

The article continued:

“The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.

“…And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.

“Impressive progress has been made in AI in recent years, driven by exponential increases in computing power and by the availability of vast amounts of data, from software used to discover new drugs to algorithms used to predict our cultural interests.”

There are potential downsides.

The economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee predicted Revolution 4.0 could yield greater inequality, most notably with the potential to disrupt labor markets:

  • Cheap labor and owners of capital are being squeezed by automation.

  • Revolution 4.0 will favor people with ideas - those who can innovate and create new products, services and business models.

  • People with ideas will be the scarcest resource.

  • Talent, more than capital, will therefore be the critical factor of production.

Maybe, maybe not.

At 22i, artificial intelligence is what we do. We deliver real-time AI for a smarter, safer world - our contribution to Revolution 4.0.

At the same time, we haven’t lost sight of what it means to be human. Our values aren’t secret - our core value is this:

“Ultimately, AI must work for people and planet - offering answers to the perennial problems.”

However Revolution 4.0 unfolds, people will always be central to what we do. For us, it's about the triple bottom line. Our mission is AI to empower the workforce, not replace it. It’s what makes us human.

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