The proliferation of new technologies is beginning to disrupt almost every industry, sector and institution in the world. Whether you’ve noticed it or not, we’re in the midst of an industrial revolution, a transition into a highly digitized world, powered by an ecosystem of cutting-edge technology.
Reshaping the World, Again.
When or where the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) began exactly it quite hard to pinpoint; but as a frame of reference, the world’s third industrial revolution began around the 1950s when we began creating personal computers, upgraded our fleets of robotics and were able to manufacture even more developed technologies, so much so that we began exploring space.
This era was our first true step toward digitization, or at least for some, where all things begin to converge. According to a 2016 book titled “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” published by Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), he argues that the current technological revolution is one “that is blurring the lines between physical, digital, and biological spheres.”
The roster of 4IR technologies is vast, including the likes of Artificial Intelligence (AI); Blockchain; Quantum Computing; 3D Printing; the Internet of Things (IoT); Robotics; 5G; Nanotechnology; Biotechnology, and so on.
In essence, 4IR technologies are ones that interface with us, as opposed to us interfacing with them. A very small and simple example of this is our phones; for many years we’ve been the one interacting directly with our phones, making manual inputs to get the desired results, but now our phones are able to recognize our faces and voices for various command functions. Taking it a step further, our cars are beginning to drive themselves, and humans are beginning to augment themselves with robotic eyes and artificial limbs.
Here at GDAC, we are examining a number of these technologies, as well as the sectors they’ll be transforming in preparation for when the fourth industrial revolution is in its prime.
Pre-existing and new technologies are typically designed to work together/upgrade one another in a myriad of ways, creating a bustling ecosystem that seems to operate seamlessly without us even realizing it. A machine learning algorithm predicting the next word you will type in a message to a friend, or an error/update received or sent by a robot from IoT sensors that parses that data through an (AI) and solves a problem; technologies are communicating between themselves, and increasingly with us.
Sure, it sounds complicated and full of jargon, but just as it was difficult for many to grasp the concept of sending an email through the internet, we have since managed to get to a time where many facets of our lives take place in the digital world, from banking to medical care, and even accessing our personal computers from remote locations.
So which technologies will be leading the charge? Digitization, mechanization, and automation are becoming commonplace, and are all the more accessible with the thanks to some recent breakthroughs. So, here are the three technologies believed to be the ones that will underpin the disruptors of the 4IR era.
Blockchain, AI and IoT.
Let’s begin with the two technologies that many experts believe will be taking the leading roles amongst an all-star cast of disruptors, blockchain, and AI.
Though initially birthed as a technology upon which to create Bitcoin, the first and most famous cryptocurrency in the world, blockchain has gone on to spout a multi-billion-dollar digital asset trading industry and has paved the way for incredible innovations within traditional finance, as well as logistics and supply chains, affecting almost every industry in the world.
The ‘hype’ surrounding blockchain as a solution for everything is cooling off, but it speaks volumes that tech behemoths like IBM, Microsoft and Amazon are launching initiatives all over the world with blockchain technology.
AI is, of course, one of the most fascinating technologies to even be conceptualized. A digital brain, capable of making its own decisions, learning, adapting and even creating. At its most primitive, we have Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri for example, and at the higher end, you have self-driving cars from Tesla, a modern marvel.
IoT technology has been in existence for quite a while. Almost any object or person in the world can become a part of the IoT ecosystem; it’s a network of physical devices or sensors that are able to communicate with each other and various systems for a vast array of applications. IoT sensors can help maintain sustainable farming/fishing levels by collecting real-time data on certain conditions, or they can exist in a humble drink vending machine, that will automatically let its supplier know when it requires a stock to be replenishment.
Blockchain offers a decentralized network of transparent and immutable ledgers, maintaining data accuracy and security. Whereas contrastingly, AI is the understanding of data, an autonomous machine. But when combined, a blockchain network acts as a secure data transfer gateway for an AI, which will require secure and accurate inter-device communications. Add IoT sensors into the mix, and you have a hyperconnected network of machines, devices, autonomous systems and databases that can impact any of the aforementioned 4IR technologies.
Though there are going to be many growing pains in bringing these worlds together, as is often the case, it is believed that once symbiosis is achieved, a wealth of opportunity awaits. Supply chains, logistics, finance, retail, healthcare, and environmental protection projects are touted to be areas most positively impacted the most by these technologies.
Throughout the growth of 4IR technologies, GDAC will be supporting and promoting their growth in every area they can reach, because they can, they are, and they will.