The opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Fifty years ago, Gordon Moore predicted: “Computing power will double every two years.” it completely changed the electronic and computing industry and started the Third Industrial Revolution which gave us the personal computers, the smartphones, and the Internet. Today there is a new prediction that stated: “Anything that can be connected will be connected” and it integrates physical, digital, and biological things to starts the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And it will change many things, many jobs, many industries, and many countries.

In the past few years, we witnessed the fast growth of the Internet due to more devices have Wi-Fi capabilities, which make access to the Internet easier. With over two billion smartphones being used and millions of smart devices connect to others, we begin to see the implementation of the “Internet of things” (IoT) where these devices can “talk” to others and getting “smarter” without human interference. With the advancing of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, 3D Printing, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, the speed of innovation has been accelerated faster than human can imagine. All of these innovations will create a powerful “Whirlwind” that impact everybody, every home, every city, every company, and every country.

According to the analyst firm Gartner, by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices that can “talk” with others and create a “giant network of connecting things.” The relationship between people and these devices, devices, and devices will completely change the nature of work and society. For example, you go to work on a self-driving car, you tell the car where to go, and it will take you there. However, if there is a traffic accident on the road, all self-driving cars will “talk” to others to avoid that place, so you do not get stuck in traffic. But if the traffic is still congested, your self-driving car checks your schedule then notices your manager that you will be late because of the traffic problem. It also reschedules your meetings on that day, since you will be late. The same thing happens if you are on the way home from work, your car will “talk” to your smart home that you will not come home on time. Your wife and children will receive a text message regarding your situation, so they do not have to worry. The smart home will “talk” to your kitchen to delay cooking foods until you arrive home.

The concept of connecting all devices with artificial intelligence, from smartphones, kitchen appliances, washing machines, lamps, wearable devices and many things will completely change the way people live. The concept also applies to manufacturing, factories, offices, shopping, entertainment, travel, healthcare, etc. When many things are connected, there are high demand for people who can make these devices works smarter, learn faster, and integrate into human’ daily activities. For example, your wearable devices can check your health status, if something unusual happens, it will analyze it to make sure your health is within acceptable range, else it will contact your doctor for further instruction. If needed, it will call the ambulance to take you to the hospital. Your refrigerator can “talk” to your kitchen to ensure that what you want to eat that day is available, and if needed, it will order directly online, and the food can be sent to your home by self-driving car or drones by the time someone is home to receive it.

The Internet of Things (IoT) can create endless opportunities when more devices are connected. Thirty years ago, Steve Jobs have predicted: “With technology innovations, anything that can be created, will be created.” The Fourth Industrial Revolution will open the door of opportunities for people or country who can take advantage of this. Today more people and more countries are jumping into this huge opportunities because no one want to miss this opportunity.

For years, I have attended technology conferences on this subject, I have heard government leaders talked about this revolution could help their country to reduce unemployment, increased efficiency, and grew their economy. I have seen many company owners talked about how smart devices could getting better and smarter. Everybody talk about the opportunities and the promises of the future, but I have NOT heard much about the “HOW” to make this happens without improving their education system. It is easy to talk about having more students to study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). It is easy to issue policies or direction, but how to implement a new education system that could lead to more innovations, new technologies is another issue. Unless they can improve the education system quickly, the opportunity will be gone. At this fast pace of technology change, if you do not act now, it is too late. To take the advantage of the fourth Industrial Revolution; the highest priority should be in improving the current education system to produce more technology skilled students. Without skilled workers to make it happen, it will be another opportunity lost.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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