Essay contest: What does the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean for you?
World Economic Forum

December 31, 2015

The Fourth Industrial Revolution and What It Means to Us

The human condition, swayed by a desire for change, is the fundamental component of any revolution. Likewise, industry is the result of large numbers of like minded people working toward a clear objective. As humans alter methods of industry, industrial revolutions influence human behavior and consequence. There have been three industrial revolutions; we are currently entering the fourth. What might this mean for us individually and collectively?

When we look at the problems facing society, we see a deep imbalance of resources and access to necessities such as clean water, food, shelter, electricity, medical care, and education. Without persistent oversight, there is little hope of overcoming these problems.

The degree to which the needs of society are met depends on any number of factors. That we are constantly looking for improvements in our daily lives through our desire to overcome obstacles suggests that the fourth industrial revolution will, through its innumerable services, become the key factor in determining our success by steering us toward recovery and eventual continuing global prosperity.

Science and technology naturally improves while unimpeded by major calamities. The rate of improvement is happening exponentially. How it will affect us is unknown of course, but we can imagine the possibilities of the fourth industrial revolution based on our understanding of where we require improvement.

Human behavior may always require oversight due to our need to explore our boundaries. Each of us is in a different place emotionally, physically, and circumstantially. As a result, we infringe upon each other while exploring our personal interests. Systems that track our progress while lending support for achieving our goals, no matter the size, will certainly curb misbehavior while allowing for our growth. We will be guided in whatever way will maximize our lessons — tailored lessons stemming from our perceived interests — while minimizing collateral effects. This will be possible through a system that can monitor and assess human activity on a macro level. Privacy will be a concern, but this concern will not be a deterrent, and eventually the idea of privacy will evolve to where it will matter little to all but a few on the fringe of the new establishment.

The benefits of this system will be greater personal advancement in a shorter amount of time, with the very important addition of reducing crime. That countries with differing crime rates exist suggests solutions can be found if the massive amount of data on human activity can be gathered and analyzed, then used in developing these systems. Much greater computational power will be necessary for this, be it A.I., or another version of computing such as quantum computing.

The prowess garnered through the use of a system that guides us toward betterment will naturally lead to an overall refinement of our current establishments such as prisons and psychiatric facilities, but it will also help us modify and enhance our systems of education. What we learn will help us understand what to teach, and perhaps more importantly, how to teach. With increasing examples of human success, we will be encouraged to seek our better selves. This lofty ideal may come about simply because we will have concrete examples of excellence coupled with an actionable plan and subtle motivators.

Poverty is one issue facing humanity today that seems easily remedied, for not the short sighted interests of key players. Institutions inarguably exploiting people for profit will slowly fade due to the development of new industries which promote tools and systems for human achievement. The measurable evidence of this achievement and its steady rise in popularity will ensure that greater resistance to exploitation will end the reign of that which does not serve our collective best interests.

One aspect of human self exploration is vice. Our concern for this seems to be self serving, in that the impairment through vice of those around us can directly affect our well being in a negative way. The sense of comfort that comes with the idea that a system is in place to protect our well being from potentially destructive scenarios empowers those bidding for a position in government, thereby ensuring their rise. Services implemented within the fourth industrial revolution that provide humans with a means of escape through vice will effectively reduce the concern for societal protection as fewer situations arise due to the advanced harm reducing avenues available to achieve similar outcomes of escape. The objective will be to allow humans to go to the edge of whatever they’re craving without permanently falling in. That the betterment of the individual is fundamental, the potential for abuse will certainly be considered and dealt with from the onset.

The forth industrial revolution promises many things, but not all are positive. Entropy, as always, will play a part in our development. Any achievement will include another problem to overcome. New ways of creating energy, advanced materials, avenues of communication, reduction of conflicts, and enduring peace will not mean anything in the long term if we cannot settle the looming problem of climate change. This certainly is the most important thing that any revolution will address. The reason this is important is completely self serving. We want to survive.