What does the fourth industrial revolution mean to you?
I think most people will be surprised at how invisible the technology is, even when it is so pervasive. But the implications of this new revolution on every aspect of life will be profound. Certainly, there will be great benefits including more efficiency and less waste, but it may also lead to some gray areas. For example, in some cases, machines will start to replace human decision-making. We can already see some potential issues today with both simple machines like meters and complex machines like cars and jet engines becoming intelligent and connected.
Let me take a relatable example: vending machines. Today, a person typically goes around from machine to machine to inventory stock and maintain it. Increasingly, connected vending machines can remotely detect and report inventory and maintenance needs to a control centre, and one day, these machines can very well reach out to suppliers and negotiate terms. This certainly results in cost savings and efficiencies, but it can lead to job losses. Similarly, wearables gather the location and biometrics of humans wearing them. This brings up issues around privacy, data ownership, governance and security. All of these issues are just the tip of the iceberg, but it will be interesting to watch how everything plays out.
Am expecting a lot of benefits from this new revolution. Firstly, there will be greater convenience. We are already living through a lot of tech support at our homes, but the ‘industry 4.0’ makes that technology even better. It makes your home appliances more responsive and self-aware. For example, your microwave getting switched off on its own, your favourite music playing as soon as you step into your workstation, your bedroom getting the temperature right for you, etc., are a few examples that make your world intelligent with the help of smart technology. The possibilities and applications of this revolution help humans to outsource their personal chores to the electronic equipment, and eliminate hassles.
Reduced unnecessary expenditure is another benefit we expect from industrial 4.0 revolutions. This revolution really matters when it comes to saving one`s hard-earned money. The machines encoded with IoT can calculate the consumption level and use one`s electricity even more efficiently. Take for example, the air conditioner at your home, which can analyse peak and non-peak hours and work accordingly to save on your utility bill and conserve energy. Apart from recording power usage, it can also turn itself on and off, irrespective of your presence or absence. So, the super-trained machines will operate your way as far as possible in IoT space.
Furthermore, enhancing the quality of living is another benefit expected. Whether it is your home or workplace, Industrial 4.0 enabled devices push the limits in terms of giving us response, quality and efficiency. Electronic devices like a refrigerator, microwave, home theatre system and many more, that understand the temperature settings, energy-efficient mode, vibration, pressure, etc., are popular examples of this existing technology and its valuable usage. Waking up to a self-made coffee, or your file opening at your workstation on its own, are other few facilities that this revolution can offer us.
Businesses can also reap many benefits from this revolution. Industry 4.0 can be useful in many different categories including asset tracking and inventory control, shipping and location, security, individual tracking, and energy conservation. To sum it up, Industrial 4.0 enhances the quality of living for us in endless ways.
The Industrial 4.0 shows every indication of rapidly transforming everything from agriculture to municipal management to energy generation and manufacturing, but it faces potential challenges. Data Sharing is among them. In the industrial 4.0 paradigm, data is gold. However, data provisioning builds off a social contract between large corporations and customers. Corporations provide a free or nominally-priced service in exchange for a consumer’s personal data. This data is either sold to advertisers or used to develop further products or services useful to consumers. Third-party applications, which build off the core service, poach customers (and related customer data) from such applications. For established networks and large corporations, this can be detrimental practice because such applications eventually poach their customers. In such a scenario, large corporations need to balance their approach to open source with commercial considerations.
Another challenge is data Control: From the user perspective, this is one of the more significant barriers to large-scale adoption of the technology. Data control is commonly mistaken for data ownership. It is no longer about who owns the data but It is about control and about deciding who gets access to the data, enabling access to private data is a slippery slope. There are net positives such as Google Flu Trends, which accurately predicted Flu outbreak cases, faster than the Centres for Disease Control. However, as recent developments have shown, sharing personal data can be a two-way street. Security, Lack of Common Standards, Lack of a Shared Infrastructure are also among the top challenges encounter.
As more and more devices get connected to each other in this new revolution; there are numerous benefits available for individuals and organisations. But, in the same scenario of data sharing, comes a downside of safety and security. However, we as users shall realise the advantages the automated processes bring to us. The shortcomings and merits go hand-in-hand with each and every wave of technology. We shall not ignore the paradigm shift that it brings to our professional and personal life.