The society and all its sectors are being disrupted by exponential growth in technologies. These changes show no signs of slowing down; in fact, they are accelerating rapidly. These challenges and opportunities are bought to us by the dawn of The Fourth Industrial Revolution. We stand on the brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.
The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production, and it gave us automobile and airplanes. The Third Revolution which is based on the information and communication technologies gave us the internet and computing power. Today, we are at the tail end of the Third Revolution and at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
According to the World Economic Forum, the speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent when compared with previous industrial revolutions. At the same time, as many economists have pointed out, the fourth revolution could yield greater inequality, particularly in its potential to disrupt labor markets. On the other hand, it is also possible that the displacement of workers by technology will result in a net increase of safe and rewarding jobs. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated, involving all stakeholders of society. Let’s look at how these revolutions have impacted society.
Industrial Revolutions & Societal Impacts
The First Industrial Revolution gave us physical power which allowed us to produce more with less manual labor. The second revolution gave us time to enjoy life, due to the availability of transportation, such as automobiles, which allowed easier access to suburbs and the outdoors. The third revolution fueled by the internet and information & communication technologies made us more productive and gave us comprehensive knowledge of many topics. And the fourth revolution fueled by the fusion of the physical, digital, and biological worlds will augment our intelligence and reshape society.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution and American Manufacturing
The fourth revolution will transform all societal sectors. Specifically, it will significantly impact the future of American manufacturing, as this sector conducts about 70 % of corporate R&D, holds 55% of US patents and accounts for 60 % of exports. In addition, a thriving advanced manufacturing sector is very important for national security and prosperity.
How can we ensure that the American manufacturing thrives during the Fourth Industrial Revolution? There are several initiatives in the country which addresses such questions. These include recent strategy documents released by the White House, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense.
Recently, as a part of the Manufacturing Day 2018 celebrations, I also discussed this topic at a University of California, Irvine (UCI) Applied Innovation presentation. During this presentation, I recommended a manufacturing innovation model and related strategies which the startups and the American innovation ecosystem stakeholders can employ to incorporate advanced manufacturing and hardware innovations in their projects and ventures by embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The presentation slides are available at this UCI SlideShare link –
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