Fourth Forum. Generally, 4IR is the concept of blurring

Fourth
Industrial Revolution (4IR) is a topic that has been discussed over the past
few years but even gained more attention after it became a focal view of
conversation at the World Economic Forum. Generally, 4IR is the concept of
blurring the real world with the technological world, which represents fundamental
change in the way we live, work and relate to each other. In simpler term, new
chapter in human development. It could be the virtual reality (VR) that allow
us to travel to virtual world to consume or communicate in ways, artificial
intelligence or software working by the sides of humans, IBM’s Watson to
identify and diagnose symptoms of cancer and this is just a starting point. It
has been a norm that technology has spread and seeped into each and every edge
of our lives. It is still a big question mark that how would 4IR leave impacts
on our lives, whether is it beneficial or might it be disastrous as well?

4IR
is mainly about empowering humans, not the rising of machines. Google DeepMind
Challenge Match that went between AlphaGo, the AI and Lee Sedol the 18-time
world champion was the first thing that came across my mind. It was shocking
yet there are more to be discovered. The story is more nuanced as humans and
computers are different, in terms of play style and both of them have strengths
and weaknesses. Computers tend to make decision fair and square, unbiased while
humans tend to make decisions considering their emotion, at the same time
evaluating complex patterns to make creative and distinctive strategies. Even
though the AI might have won these matches, however humans are miracles to be
discovered. Software and technology hold the key to unseal the possibility and
potential of any human being to a far greater degree than in the past. In the
other words, humans are able to take advantages of machines to improve
themselves. It is possible too that displacement of labour by machines would
improve in terms of safety and productivity.

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In
order to succeed 4IR, people suppose to embrace the technology that is yet to
come, rather than fearing that their human skills would be devalued as the
changes by 4IR are inevitable. Thus, a mindset shift is important. We should
bear in mind that these innovations and creations would strengthen the
industries and more – to the world in the terms of living quality, safety and
security. By applying the technology, people are able to handle their job
better. It is because the future of work would definitely be looking very
different from the past. It is believed that people with high perseverance,
entrepreneurship and creativity will adapt themselves to the trend rather than
to hold onto the status quo, living in their own comfort zone. On the other
hand, it could create a rise to the need of partially-skilled and fully-skilled
workforce and technologists, which means it could give rise to entirely new
categories of jobs, emerging to replace those given over to dramatic shift in
work. However, we are unable to foresee at this point where the scenarios are
emerging and the history is suggesting that the outcome would be more likely
the combination of both.

The
digital revolution should be used only for good. Technology is neither good or
bad, thus it is what you do with it that makes the difference. In the past, we
have our work done isolated, unaware of the negative effects that rises upon
society and environment as a whole. As elites of the society, economic leaders,
government officials, educators and citizens, we need to create a set of principles
and values that would bring us the future we wanted, maximising the benefits to
fullest and minimising the side effects to the least, to the environment,
safety and most importantly, the existence of mankind. It is because the
boundary-less 4IR would offer unlimited possibilities. Thus, it would be
creating higher degree of complexity for policy-makers and regulators trying to
keep up with the rapid pace of development. As in previous era, new technologies
will carry negative impacts for instance AI and genetic engineering would alter
our future in undesirable ways in the wrong hands.

4IR
leads to continuous reinvention. Old business models could be rebuilt and
presented with strategies that enhance efficiency. For instance, on supply side,
there are development in energy storage, grid technologies, real time
processing of customer and asset performance are transforming its operating
methods. While on demand side, customers expect and value interactions at all
points of their consumer right. Thus, leaders should be able to adapt the challenges
and build up their resilience, making use of the trend instead of falling off
unsustainable. In long terms, efficiency and productivity would rise.
Transportation and communication costs will drop, logistics and supply chains
would be more effective and trade costs would diminish and it would give rise
to more new markets and subsequently drive economic growth.

Despite
the benefits, we shouldn’t neglect the negative impact of 4IR. It might just
cost us good as well. The revolution could yield greater inequality,
particularly in the disruption in labour market. AI and increased automation
already have a huge impact on employment, and could lead to a crisis of workforce
development which by one estimate, it would risk nearly half of jobs worldwide
in the past two decades. As machinery might substitute for labour across the partial
or whole economy, it might just widen the gap between the gain to the capital
and gain to the labour. Consequently, talent would be seen as a more important
factor in production, rather than capital, giving rise to a job market increasingly
divided into “low skilled – low pay” and “high skilled – high pay” segments,
which would lead to an increase in social gap. Besides that, inequality is the
greatest societal concern in 4IR. It is because the largest beneficiaries of
all would tend to be the capital – the innovators, the shareholders and the
investors which might explain the widening gap of wealth on capital versus labour.

4IR
has a huge impact on business. New technologies are introduced in many industries,
which has created more and entirely new ways of serving existing needs and seriously
disrupt the existing industry value chains for example flowing between agile
and innovative competitors, global digital platforms for research and development,
marketing, sales and distribution. They have to improve faster than ever in the
quality, speed, or price at which value is delivered. New technologies make
assets more durable and resilient while data is transforming in the way it is
maintained. In order to survive, they would have to express themselves in a new
form of collaboration which suites the new era, combining customer experiences,
data-based services and asset performances as well. In the end, it includes the
emergence of global platforms and other new business models, which means that
everything would have to be reformed, talents, cultures and organisational
thought for instance.

As
for the governmental superiors, 4IR has its effects too. As the convergence
goes on, technologies would increase platforms which enable citizens to engage
with government, dishing out their opinions or stands and coordinate their efforts.
As a result, there would be more interactions between government and the public
authorities, thus government will gain more control over the populations, by
the pervasive surveillance systems and the power to take over digital infrastructure.
However, they would have to face pressure to change their current approach to
public engagement and the policy-making, as their main roles of conducting new
policy diminishes new competition sources and decentralization and
redistribution of power because of the new technologies introduced. Their
adaptation ability will decide if the government and public authorities could
survive in this new era of industry. They should be able to subject their organisation
to a new level of transparency and efficiency and endure the disruptive change.
If they do not evolve, they would be facing numerous troubles, especially in
the realm of regulation. Current system of public policy and decision evolved
was mainly based on the Second Industrial Revolution where the policy-makers
had the time to do research on specific issues and develop the necessary decisions
or appropriate regulations. The whole decision as designed to be linear and
mechanistic, following a strict “top to down” approach, however such a solution
is no longer applicable. Given that the legislators and regulators are challenged
a whole new level of stress, considering the rapid change and huge impacts of
4IR on politics, economics and socials. Besides, it will cause blurring to the
definition of conflicts. Modern conflicts involving states are increasingly “hybrid”
in nature, combining both traditional battlefield technique and cyber. The distinction
between peace and chaos will become further blurred. The security of the nations
will be on risk and the government will have to improve the security further
ahead since autonomous or biochemical weapons would be easier to use, individuals
or a small group would be enough to put states in chaotic.

For
people, 4IR will not only change what we do but also what we are. It might affect
our identity: definition of privacy, sense of ownership, time we divided to
work and rest, how we improve ourselves, enhance our skill, communicate with
others and nourish a relationship. There is no limit to the things might
change, and they are only bounded by our imagination. One of the issues that
might be risen from 4IR is that the inexorable innovations could possibly diminish
our quintessential human abilities. A raw example is our relationship with
smartphones. Constant usage of smartphones or tablets seem to diminish our time
to pause for a rest, reflect and engage in a meaningful conversation, either
with friends or family. Next big thing is our privacy. The rising of new information
technology will challenge individual right of privacy. We understand what it
means, however on the other hand, it is a must to track and share information
as the trending of new connectivity. At the same time, the revolutions
occurring in biotechnology which are redefining what it means to be human by pushing
back the current thresholds of lifespan, health, cognition and capabilities,
will require us to redefine our ethical and moral limits.

Technology and the disruptions that come together with it is which
humans have no control over. We, all of the mankind is responsible to lead its
evolution, in what we decide on daily issues as residents of Earth, superiors
and consumers. Thus, we should grab every opportunity and power we hold as to shape
the future of 4IR as to achieve the objectives we wanted, strengthening mankind
in better way round. In order to do
this, thus, we must develop objectives and worldwide shared outlooks of how
technology is going to affect our daily basis and reshaping our life in economic,
social, cultural, and human environments. There has never been a time of
greater promise, or one of greater potential peril. Today’s people however, are
too often trapped, in terms of traditional, linear thinking, or too absorbed by
the multiple issues which draw their attention, to think strategically about
the forces of disruption and innovation shaping our future.  When it comes to the end, it will come back
to people and values. A future that works for all of us by putting people first
and empowering them is what we should shape. In its pessimistic most way, we
might be dehumanized. The 4IR may indeed have the potential to “robotize”
humanity and thus to deprive us of our feeling and soul. But as a complement to
the best parts of human nature—creativity, empathy, stewardship, it can also
lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness based on a shared
sense of destiny. It is incumbent on us all to make sure the latter prevails.

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