Often times in any discussion of technology it is easy to put a point of view into one of two categories, either for technology or against it. Either accept any new technology with a gee whiz attitude or you are a technophobe or somehow out of touch with the modern world. Technology is a tool to be used for good or bad and with any tool it is most important who has developed and controls it.
One conjures up images of the Luddite Rebellion when textile workers from England feared the new technology of textile production. They formed together as a group, protested and even burned the factories that contained the looms, stocking frames and spinning frames that were taking their jobs. The military was brought in to suppress them. This is the example put forth by the defenders of technology in any of it’s forms, even calling anyone who asks questions ” a Luddite”. Arguing the point that as technology replaces some jobs, it also creates newer better paying jobs, there are winners and losers you see. Sound familiar?
New technology has created new occupations and there has and will continue to be winners and losers. The difference between then and now is that this technology is being developed to replace humans all together. Corporations and governments that control this will create machines that will replicate themselves. Once robots and artificial intelligence can create machines and software better than any human we will be the middle man. Artificial intelligence will soon logically decide that it does not need us.
If you are a “Luddite” then you are in good company:
The 4th industrial revolution is meant to replace humans in all most every area except for the very rich who think they can contain this Promethean Fire.
Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum has this to say in the forward to his book The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing. Intelligent robots. Self-driving cars. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing. The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed.
Previous industrial revolutions liberated humankind from animal power, made mass production possible and brought digital capabilities to billions of people. This Fourth Industrial Revolution is, however, fundamentally different. It is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.
The resulting shifts and disruptions mean that we live in a time of great promise and great peril. The world has the potential to connect billions more people to digital networks, dramatically improve the efficiency of organizations and even manage assets in ways that can help regenerate the natural environment, potentially undoing the damage of previous industrial revolutions.
However, Schwab also has grave concerns: that organizations might be unable to adapt; governments could fail to employ and regulate new technologies to capture their benefits; shifting power will create important new security concerns; inequality may grow; and societies fragment.
Schwab puts the most recent changes into historical context, outlines the key technologies driving this revolution, discusses the major impacts on governments, businesses, civil society and individuals, and suggests ways to respond. At the heart of his analysis is the conviction that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is within the control of all of us as long as we are able to collaborate across geographies, sectors and disciplines to grasp the opportunities it presents.
In particular, Schwab calls for leaders and citizens to “together shape a future that works for all by putting people first, empowering them and constantly reminding ourselves that all of these new technologies are first and foremost tools made by people for people.”
Learning how humankind can benefit from this revolution while addressing its challenges is also the central aim of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016, which is being held under the theme “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
Nice words to be sure but unless we are all gonna walk around in one piece jump suits all day and write poetry, what will the reality of the situation be?