"The Fourth Industrial Revolution" and "Digital Dividends" / by FPM Team

  • This week, as government leaders meet at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, SwitzerlandKlaus Schwab (it’s founder) will focus on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution …  a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” His additional comments include:
  • “the possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligencerobotics, the Internet of Thingsautonomous vehicles3-D printingnanotechnologybiotechnologymaterials scienceenergy storage, and quantum computing
  • However, …  in the future, talent, more than capital, will represent the critical factor of production. This will give rise to a job market increasingly segregated into “low-skill/low-pay” and “high-skill/high-pay” segments, which in turn will lead to an increase in social tensions....
  • In its most pessimistic, dehumanized form, the Fourth Industrial Revolution may indeed have the potential to “robotize” humanity and thus to deprive us of our heart and soul. But as a complement to the best parts of human naturecreativity, 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 “ (full text here)
  • Separately, the World Bank released the report “Digital Dividends” last week which said “Digital technologies have spread rapidly in much of the world. Digital dividends—the broader development benefits from using these technologies—have lagged behind. In many instances digital technologies have boosted growth, expanded opportunities, and improved service delivery. Yet their aggregate impact has fallen short and is unevenly distributed.”  (full report here)

OUR TAKE

  • Both reports provide thorough assessments of the opportunities and challenges from the accelerating pace of technological innovation.
  • Ensuring positive outcomes will likely require a better understanding of the socio-economic trade-offs and pursing new approaches for managing “progress”.
  • Increased focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) programs at all educational levels will be critical in this process.