How the Fourth Industrial Revolution Will Impact Societal Issues

by Andrew Der

Industrial change has a bad reputation, and with good reason: change is hard to adapt to — for consumers, for workers and for companies. The Third Industrial Revolution exacerbated the effects of pollution, climate change, obesity and loneliness, to name just a few side effects. However, despite the continual impact of technological advancement, there is an opportunity for the thoughtful developments of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to soften the wear of these side effects on humanity and begin to design technology that will have an impact on some of society’s biggest modern challenges.

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, many are building technology that will work toward human wellbeing. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) is being used by hiring teams to decrease bias throughout the recruiting process. AI is also being used to improve the precision of meteorologists’ predictions, allowing more time for preparations for natural disaster. Drones are being used by Doctors Without Borders to deliver TB tests from a remote village to the hospital.

As explained by Hacker Noon writer Joe Roberson in an article, “The phrase ‘Tech for Good’ was first popularised in the UK…It began in the noughties days of hack weekends when web developers who cared came together with third and public sector folk to hack a solution to a social problem during 48 hours of pizza fueled tech creativity.”

Companies are taking to heart the desire to create technology that helps societies function in a more efficient and environmentally-sound way.

Verizon Ventures’ portfolio companies are participating in this trend of using technology for good, promoting safety and using resources in a more environmentally-friendly fashion. For example, Edgybees uses Augmented Real-time Intelligence™, fusing computer vision, multi-sensor data analytics and 3D video generation to create a data layer that provides the visual information for first responders to figure out exactly how best to tackle a problem. Another example is portfolio company, Swiftmile, solar-powered, cloud connected eBike and eScooter charging stations with the goal of reducing traffic and city congestion.

These are just two use cases for what the next generation of cities may hold, and the number of popularly-known humane tech companies is growing. The definition of and priorities for advancement are changing rapidly among populations around the world, and soon, today’s tech companies will need to reevaluate their collective ethos to keep up in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.